Ascension Island Government

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Shark Awareness and Water Safety

15 April 2021


There remain an unusually high number of sharks in the inshore waters around Ascension. Recent reports indicate large sharks are present all around the coast including Comfortless Cove, English Bay and the Pierhead. As such, the public are encouraged to exercise caution and are advised to remain vigilant, be aware of their behaviour if they enter the water and not to take unnecessary risks.

Guidance for entering the water in areas with known shark sightings

  • Check the water before entering where possible; go to higher ground and look to see if any sharks are present. Be aware that sharks can still enter the area later.
  • Stay out of the water at dawn, early evening and at night. These are periods of high hunting activity, and sharks are well equipped to locate prey in low light levels, even when visibility is poor.
  • Avoid areas where fish waste enters the water or where people are fishing.
  • Try to avoid entering the water with an open wound, however small it may be.
  • Avoid swimming during murky sea conditions. Large swells and low tide can lead to poor visibility underwater.
  • Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange, yellow and red are said to be higher-risk colours) or shiny jewellery, which may appear to flash in sunlight like baitfish. Galapagos sharks see contrasting colours very well.
  • Refrain from excessive splashing and keep pets out of the water. Sharks are attracted to such activity.
  • Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. After a first inspection, a shark is likely to swim away from you. Keep the shark in sight while making it clear that you are removing yourself from its vicinity. Do not provoke, harass or entice a shark, even a juvenile.
  • Look to fish or turtle behaviour. If they start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be reacting to the presence of a shark in the area.
  • Do not swim, surf or dive alone. You might not think so, but humans are an intimidating presence in the water. Unless a shark feels a need to defend itself, it will keep its distance. Using the water in small groups reduces the risk of a negative shark encounter.
  • If you are diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible. Keep your eyes on the shark at all times. Once the shark has passed, make an effort to swim in the opposite direction if possible, giving you and the shark space. If you are carrying fish or other catches, release the catch and slowly, yet deliberately leave the area.