Aim for the gills, and 6 other tips that could save your life during a shark attack

Cue the "Jaws" theme music.

Inevitably every summer, several news outlets will report on the harrowing encounters between sharks and humans. While the odds of you actually being attacked by a shark are slim — 1 in 3,750,000 — it's hard not to think about it while you're in the ocean.

Dr. Charles Bangley works at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in the Fish Ecology Lab and has a couple tips that will keep you more conscientious of your surroundings and prepared for the worst.

One thing he emphasizes is taking note of where you're swimming. You want to make sure to avoid areas where there are large schools of fish, so keep a lookout for where local fishermen are hanging out and for any birds diving in particular spots.

While it may seem like a no-brainer, making sure that you're swimming in clear water and in groups can also ensure you won't be caught off guard by any unfriendly creature swimming by.

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If you do find yourself in the rare position where you're face to face with a shark, Dr. Bangley says that the common advice to "punch it in the nose" won't be as effective as going straight for the gills or the eyes — the reason being, that a shark's nose is a very hard part of its body, while the eyes and gills are more vulnerable and more likely to hurt.

Again, the odds of facing a shark head on are rare. In 2018, there were only 66 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks on humans, which is the lowest it's been in years. It's even more rare for the attack to be fatal — last year, the U.S. experienced the most shark attacks, and out of the 32 cases, only one was fatal.

For more information and tips about shark attacks, including what the biggest misconception about sharks is, watch the interview above with Dr. Bangley.

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