What Shark Week Can Teach You About Survival

August 12, 2013 by | Be the first to comment »

As a fan of the Discovery Channel and a Floridian who loves the ocean, my television has been on a loop of Shark Week lately. But rather than discouraging me from venturing into our beautiful oceans though, it makes me more interested to jump in and hopefully get a glimpse of these magnificent creatures.

While watching the program, it occurred to me that there are several things we can learn about survival from Shark Week—things that have absolutely nothing to do with being attacked by a shark.

Be aware of your surroundings.

The shark’s prey seem to do a pretty good job of this, mainly because they have to it everyday. People—not so much. I’ve seen video after video of clueless surfer enthralled by bait fish churning the water around them, fishermen wading with their catch tethered to their body, and people swimming in  murky waters where sharks like to hunt.

Whether you’re in the water or wilderness, walking from the office to your car at night, or strolling through the mall, keep your eyes open and be aware of what’s going on around you.

Know that you’re never the top predator.

People like to pretend that we are the top of the food chain—the proverbial “apex predator.” The only time that’s true is when we have complete control of a situation, which is pretty rare. Drop us into the ocean, Alaskan bear country, or Florida swamps and see how quickly we become helpless prey.

Predators; whether human or animal, are always on the look out for prey that is slower and weaker, and even the best and strongest slip up sometimes. Martial arts instructors get their asses kicked by amateurs, seasoned FBI agents get killed by untrained gang-bangers, and kids with AK-47s routinely shoot our military forces. It’s always better to avoid a physical confrontation because you can’t be certain of the outcome until it’s over.

Scary things can be okay.

Despite the over-dramatized editing and terror inducing theme music, sharks really aren’t as scary as producers make them seem. There are only about 65 shark attacks worldwide each year, and only a handful are fatal. In fact, sharks don’t even like to eat people; they would prefer a seal or tuna.

The lesson here is not to let your fear hold you back. Perhaps you’ve put off that trek into the wilderness because you’re afraid of getting lost and starving or freezing to death. These are valid fears, but you could instead use them as motivation to become more proficient in the skills that would prevent them, such as land navigation, trapping, and shelter building. And when you do something scary, it get a little less scary each time.

When the balloon goes up, give it everything you have!

When a shark attacks, it’s nothing subtle. Several tons of muscle and teeth slam into their prey at over 25 miles per hour, thrashing about and tearing it to shreds.

If the time ever comes when you are forced to defend yourself, you should apply the same principle. Give your attacker plenty of incentive to retreat. A flurry of punches, kicks, knees, elbows, stabs, slashes, and even gunshots delivered as quickly and forcefully as possible will either motivate them to get the hell out of there, or eliminate their ability to continue attacking you.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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