“It was beauty that the beast possessed.
Afraid of getting back in the water amid the record-breaking burst of US shark attacks in 2022? Not to worry, a deeply nervous diver has shown a surefire method of defending himself against these man-eaters in a shocking video with 2.6 million views.
“When we’re dealing with apex predators like sharks, we also want to act like a predator,” Kayleigh Grant — better known as @mermaid.kayleigh for her 1.1 million TikTok followers — says in the shark-jumping footage, which shows her seeing friend Andriana confronts a huge live tiger shark. Philadelphia-born Grant, founder of Hawaii’s Kaimana Ocean Safari tours, regularly posts tips on what to do in the event of a shark attack, including fending it off with fins.
Step 1 to scare off a shark attack? Don’t act like prey, according to the video, in which you can see the great white whisperer swimming quickly as the giant predator chases her.
“Andy shows why we don’t want to splash and swim away from sharks,” explains narrator Kayleigh. “Splashing and swimming away imitates what prey do.”
“What you really want to do is don’t splash, turn around, look at the animal and maintain eye contact,” advised the TikToker, the technique analogous to what you would do in the event of a bear attack.
She explained, “With tiger sharks, you can put your hand on the top of their head, push down gently and that will distract them away from you.”
Then Andriana miraculously does just that, turning to face the shark a la “Deep Blue Sea”. The tiger tamer then peacefully pushes on the beast’s head, whereupon Jaws surprisingly turns and runs off, swimming past it like a dolphin trainer.
“They’re not the guy who eats monsters that the media portrays and who usually don’t want anything to do with people,” Grant explains in the caption. “So much so that just pushing their head is enough to deter.”
Needless to say, the diver’s Jaw-jitsu demonstration raised many eyebrows on TikTok with one skeptical writing: “Great advice. Not going into the water is my option.”
“A shark sent me this with a caption ‘bwahahahaha ounds legitimate’,” joked another man-eater matador-ing.
One naysayer wrote: “Mmm, I don’t think that’s possible if they don’t swim at this leisurely pace. I just stay out of the water lol.”
Others feared Grant would end up like the late Steve Irwin, who died via a stingray in 2006, or “Grizzly Man” Timothy Treadwell, who was killed by a hungry brown bear in 2003.
Interestingly, most shark experts agree with Grant that maintaining eye contact and avoiding splashing are the correct moves during an attack. However, they advise fighting back rather than simply pushing his nose.
“The gills are very sensitive – slapping a shark in the gills isn’t a bad idea,” Richard Peirce, the former chairman of the UK-based Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, told CNN. He added: ‘If you are a diver with an underwater camera, use it. If you are a snorkeler, take off your snorkel and use it to poke the shark.”
Practicing proper shark self-defense seems to be becoming increasingly relevant given the recent spate of shark attacks along the east coast.
Last week, two people were bitten in the waters of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — with one of the victims requiring hundreds of stitches from the vicious attack.
Meanwhile, New York’s waters have seen a major spike in the number of sharks biting humans, including six incidents off Long Island in July alone.