How to Survive a Shark Attack with Energy Drinks and a Knife
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
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In the annals of heroic human defenses against sharks, Polish kite surfer Jan Lisewski might just take the cake.
Lisewski is the first person to kite surf across the Baltic Sea, a feat he recorded last year. However, a recent attempt to cross the Red Sea didn't go so well. After Lisewski had completed two-thirds of the 124-mile traverse from El Gouna and Duba, the wind died down and Lisewski found himself drifting in the open sea, surrounded by sharks.
After his SOS signals went unanswered by the Saudi Arabian coast guard, Lisewski was left to fend for himself for 40 hours, during which time he was attacked 11 times, he estimates, by Red Sea sharks. Lucky for him, Lisewski had packed mineral water, energy drinks (I'm making the Red Bull part up -- they were probably a Polish brand like Tiger), energy bars, and, most importantly, a knife.
"I was stabbing them in the eyes, the nose and gills," Lisewski told Polish state news agency PAP.
It is commonly believed that the best way to fend off a shark attack is to punch (or stab, if you can) a shark in its nose, which is especially sensitive. The best bet, however, is to go for the eyes and gills, as Lisewski did. Follow this link here for a clickable diagram of the shark anatomy.
Remarkably, Lisewski did not suffer any injuries during his shark encounters. But the question remains, what kind of sharks attacked him? There are 44 different species of sharks in the Red Sea, including the deadly shortfin mako and bull shark. According to Lisewski, the sharks that attacked him were up to 6 meters long. There is probably some level of exaggeration to that claim, but the only sharks in the Red Sea approaching that size are the extremely dangerous Tiger sharks. Incidentally, there is a Polish energy drink called Tiger. I can see an endorsement deal coming for Lisewski!
These are the sharks found in the Red Sea:
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