‘Twas beauty owned the beast.
Scared to go back in the water amid 2022’s record-breaking rash of US shark attacks? Not to fear, a steel-nerved scuba diver has demonstrated a fool-proof method of defending oneself against these man-eaters in a shocking video with 2.6 million views.
“When we’re dealing with top predators like sharks we also want to act like a predator,” Kayleigh Grant — better known as @mermaid.kayleigh to her 1.1 million TikTok followers — intones in the shark-jumping footage, which shows her friend Andy confronting a massive live tiger shark. The Philadelphia native, founder of the Hawaii-based Kaimana Ocean Safari tour guides, frequently posts tips on what to do in the event of a shark attack, including fighting them off with swim fins.
Step 1 to deterring a shark attack? Don’t act like prey, according to the video, in which the great white whisperer can be seen swimming rapidly as the giant predator pursues her.
“Andy is demonstrating why we don’t want to splash and swim away from sharks,” narrator Kayleigh explains. “Splashing and swimming away imitates what prey does.”
“What you actually want to do is not splash, turnaround, face the animal and maintain eye contact,” the TikTokker advised, analogizing the technique to what you’d do in the event of a bear attack.
She explained, “With tiger sharks, you can place your hand on the top of their head, push down gently and that will redirect them away from you.”
Then, miraculously Andy does just that, swiveling to face the shark a la “Deep Blue Sea.” The tiger tamer then peacefully pushes down on the toothy critter’s head, whereupon Jaws surprisingly turns around and scoots away as she swims alongside it like a dolphin trainer.
“They are not the man eating monsters the media portrays & typically want nothing to do with humans,” Grant explained in the caption. “So much so that just pushing on their head is enough to deter.”
Needless to say, the diver’s Jaw-jitsu demonstration raised many eyebrows on TikTok with one skeptic writing: “Great advice. Not going in the water is my option.”
“A shark sent me this with a caption ‘bwahahahaha ounds legit’” quipped another of the man-eater matadoring.
One naysayer wrote, “Mmm I don’t think that’s possible when they aren’t swimming at this leisurely pace. I’ll just stay out the water lol.”
Others worried that Grant was going to end up like the late Steve Irwin, who died via stingray attack in 2006, or “Grizzly Man” Timothy Treadwell, who was killed in 2003 by a hungry brown bear.
Interestingly, most shark experts agree with Grant that maintaining eye contact and avoiding splashing is the right move during an attack. However, they advise fighting back rather than simply pushing down on its nose.
“The gills are very sensitive — giving a shark a whack in the gills isn’t a bad idea,” said Richard Peirce, the former chair of the UK-based Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, told CNN. He added, “If you’re a diver with an underwater camera, use it, if you’re a snorkeler, rip off your snorkel and use it to poke the shark.”
Practicing proper shark self-defense seems increasingly relevant given the recent rash of shark attacks along the Eastern seaboard.
Just last week, two people were bitten in the waters off Myrtle Beach in South Carolina — with one of the victim’s requiring hundreds of stitches from the vicious attack.
Meanwhile, New York waters have seen a major spike in sharks biting people, including six incidents in Long Island in July alone.