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How To Stay Safe From Sharks When Paddle Boarding [A Simple Guide]

Movies like Jaws and deep blue sea have fed people’s fascination with sharks for quite some time. 

While water is fascinating and paddle boarding is fun, it’s still can be potentially dangerous if you become a victim of a paddle board shark attack.

Sharks do exist in the waters where you paddle, but the actual risk of an encounter depends on many factors

Therefore this guide will help you understand the risk and equip you with all the knowledge you need before heading out on your next SUP vacation.

Table of Contents

The Actual Risk Of Being Involved In A Paddle Board Shark Attack

While sharks “can” attack you, that doesn’t mean they’ll always attack you. Sharks are known to attack mainly when provoked. 

Shark attacks are deemed very rare, unlike how the movies predict. 

A lot of the time, the reported shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity. By that, we mean the shark thinks you are something other than a human because generally when a shark bites a human, it doesn’t keep eating. 

Shark attacks don’t even make the top ten list of risks you could encounter when paddle boarding

According to the Florida Museum, the average yearly death toll due to shark attacks is 5.

Of course, even 1 is too many. That’s why you need to be fully prepared when stepping in waters where you may encounter sharks.

Now, how do shark attacks happen? 

We need to know the different tactics and situations where sharks attack and avoid them. 

The Types of shark Attacks That May Occur When Out Paddling

Provoked Shark Attack

Provoked attacks are the people’s fault. Sometimes, people forget that wild animals are nothing like Disney characters or pets. If you are trying to pet or stroke a shark, be prepared to deal with everything that comes. Sharks are known to be curious beings. If you try to trigger them, they will react. 

Unprovoked Shark Attack

Unprovoked attacks are unpredictable. These attacks can be anything from a light bump to a good chomp. here are the main three: 

  1. Bump and bites are some of the most seen shark attack tactics. The shark will come and bump you and try to get you off your board. Then comes a bite. 
  2. Sneak attacks are another tactic sharks use. But this is usually seen in deep, deep waters, like oceans. Sharks sneak up on you and attack.
  3. There are also categories of accidental attacks. This usually occurs near the shore. Sharks see boards and think of them as food. They come and bite but leave it at that. 

The Best Time Of Day For Avoiding Sharks When Paddeling

One of the best preventive steps is to avoid times and places where sharks gather around. Sharks have distinct feeding times. Just like big cats, sharks usually feed around dusk or dawn, and that’s the time you should avoid hitting the waters. 

In essence, these magnificent creatures are programmed to hunt under certain conditions. They are less likely to attack outside of their normal routine. 

if you are close to this many sharks you may find yourself in sup shark attack

The best time to hit the waters is when the sun is at the top, around the afternoon. Not only will the water be warm, but the sharks are less likely to be in hunt mode, and hopefully, they’ve had a good feast earlier in the day, which will reduce the chance of them searching for food. 

Where Do Sharks Hang Out 

Sharks attacks usually occur in warm and coastal, shallow waters. The problem here is that sharks live in both deep and shallow waters. There are all types of sharks that live in different areas of water. The main problem will be the bull sharks.

Those are what you need to be careful of. Bull sharks don’t necessarily attack you to feed themselves. They are incredibly territorial. That’s the reason most shark attacks are from bull sharks. 

And yes, you can get attacked by Great White sharks which can be found in warm and cold waters and other types of sharks, but as mentioned above, in the rare occasion that you may find yourself in this terrible situation of an unprovoked attack, it is more likely to be a bull shark.

How To Tell If A Shark Is Nearby

Humans are not usually on a sharks’ menu. That is why there are relatively many more chomp and run cases when it comes to shark attacks. 

Experts have said that there is no need for surfers to panic as shark attacks are not very common. But, for people who might have a phobia and just want to make sure they are fully prepared, the following guidelines will help you.

  1. Look out for birds. If you see a bird dipping into the water and catching fish, it’s usually an indicator that fish are closer to the surface. This could indicate a predator is driving the fish up to the surface with its own hunting tactics.
  2. Do not go close to fishing areas. Any area where they clean the fish out is a no-no zone for you. Those are the waters that are ridden with sharks who are attracted to the smell and easy pickings.
  3. Look for clean and clear waters. Not only will you be able to see better in such waters, but sharks will be able to see, too. This might help them distinguish what’s food and what’s not.  

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Things That Attract Sharks And How To Avoid Them When Paddle Boarding

Sharks have been deemed the top dogs of the ocean. They are at the top of the food chain and are master predators, like humans. But they are not very well equipped visually. 

shark attract each other and when on finds somthing intresting others will come

Sharks have a distorted image which is one of the reasons for the higher rate of bite and run attacks. They are unable to tell what is food and what is not. But, we can use this flaw to our advantage and avoid grabbing their attention. 

  1. Avoid looking like a fish. That’s it. Avoid reflective or flashy jewelry. This may be reminiscent of a fish scale. Use a solid, dark, and single-colored board and clothes. Texture and a mix of colors might seem like a marine body to the shark. Some people have also suggested hiding uneven tans when paddleboarding. 
  2. Don’t go in when bleeding. This comes as no surprise if you’ve seen enough shark attack movies. Blood attracts predatory fishes. As simple as that. Also, avoid going to areas where there are a lot of fish or fish baits for the same reason.
  3. Avoid excessive splashing. Too many sudden movements will attract the shark. 

The Power Of Local Knowledge In Making Your SUP Trip Safer 

Local knowledge is essential, especially if you are going in waters you are not familiar with. Ask the local guide or the local fisherman. 

They know the waters well and the year-round and daily trends of local wildlife. This is valuable knowledge that not only will keep you safe from sharks. It’s likely to unearth some great locations to make your SUP trip extra special. 


It is better to be safe and equipped at all times. Even though shark attacks are rare and often non-lethal, phobia still exists. 

That phobia alone can turn your SUP trip from a relaxing session to a stressful occasion.

Paying heed to guidelines and tips can help you stay “afloat” in all sorts of waters. This, in turn, will allow you to relax your mind, so you can truly enjoy the adventure of paddle boarding.

Picture of Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland loves the outdoor life and getting out in nature. He loves writing and sharing knowledge. He's part of the team at
He’ll find any excuse he can to get out on the water and can often be seen on a SUP with his kids and dogs.