Great White Shark
A great white shark pictured in South Africa, Oct. 19, 2009. Getty Images

After a great white shark attacked a kayaker in the city of Santa Cruz, California has declared a four-day ocean ban. In accordance with the Santa Cruz County Shark Incident Action Plan, the city will close access to Main Beach, Cowell Beach, and other beach access points within a one-mile radius of the attack for four days. All water activities at the beach will be prohibited until the morning of 15 July.

While no one was injured in the attack that took placeTuesday, apprehension is still prevalent in the area as many locals avoided beaches fearing another attack. There are about 19 shark attacks in the U.S. on average every year, with only one fatality recorded about every two years. So while shark attacks aren’t an everyday occurrence, they are reportedly on the rise, and they happen often enough.

Read: Great White Shark Attacks Kayaker In California, Leaves 12-Inch Bite Mark In Boat

According to Discovery Channel, sharks do not normally hunt humans. When they attack a human, it is usually a case of mistaken identity. Sharks sometimes mistake humans for their natural prey such as a fish, a marine mammal or a sea turtle and most often release their prey after the first bite. This could happen in the case of an unprovoked attack. On the other hand, provoked attacks occur when people in some way touch, or otherwise disturb sharks.

The wisest thing to do would be to avoid putting yourself in a position in which the sharks might attack you. However, in case such situation arises, there are some ways in which it could be tackled:

  1. According to University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, one must leave the water – swim quickly but smoothly, ideally with someone else so you don’t become a solitary target.
  2. It's also advised to stay still if the shark has not spotted you and leave the water quickly and calmly without provoking the shark.
  3. Simply splashing, slapping the water repeatedly and yelling – both in an out of the water - may scare the shark away or at least keep it at bay.
  4. In an interview, Morne Hardenberg, an underwater cameraman, warned swimmers not to turn their backs on great white sharks, as this is regarded as a trigger and mimics the behavior of their food.
  5. Hitting a shark on the nose usually results in the shark temporarily curtailing its attack so you can get out of the water.
  6. According to Lifehacker, if you’re in a vessel, hit the shark with any objects onboard – but do not use your body. Hitting a shark with an oar should be your last resort, in case it breaks or floats away.
  7. In the event that a shark takes you in its mouth, be as aggressive as possible and don’t play dead.
  8. If a shark actually bites, try clawing at its gills and fins – its two sensitive areas.
  9. Even if you are bitten, there is still hope. Sharks don’t tend to devour people; rather they take exploratory bites to see if their chosen target is a suitable prey, hence most bites are on people’s legs. Leave the water as quickly as you can if you have been bitten. Also, try to stop the bleeding.
  10. Richard Peirce, a shark expert and a former chairman of Shark Trust, said in an interview with CNN that you should always maintain eye contact with the shark as it discourages their natural tendency to want to ambush you. If possible, try to keep your back against something (a coral reef or boat) to prevent the shark from getting behind you.