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FISH THAT ATTACK MAN

The shark is usually the first fish that comes to mind when considering fish that attack man. Other fish also fall in this category, such as the barracuda, the moray eel, and the piranha.

Sharks

Sharks are potentially the most dangerous fish that attack people. The obvious danger of sharks is that they are capable of seriously maiming or killing you with their bite. Of the many shark species, only a relative few are dangerous. Of these, four species are responsible for most cases of shark attacks on humans. These are the white, tiger, hammerhead, and blue sharks. There are also records of attacks by ground, gray nurse, and mako sharks. See Figure F-1 for illustrations of sharks.

Avoid sharks if at all possible. Follow the procedures discussed in Chapter 16 to defend yourself against a shark attack.

Sharks vary in size, but there is no relationship between the size of the shark and likelihood of attack. Even the smaller sharks can be dangerous, especially when they are traveling in schools.

If bitten by a shark, the most important measure for you to take is to stop the bleeding quickly. Blood in the water attracts sharks. Get yourself or the victim into a raft or to shore as soon as possible. If in the water, form a circle around the victim (if not alone), and stop the bleeding with a tourniquet.

Other Ferocious Fish

In salt water, other ferocious fish include the barracuda, sea bass, and moray eel (Figure F-2). The sea bass is usually an open water fish. It is dangerous due to its large size. It can remove large pieces of flesh from a human. Barracudas and moray eels have been known to attack man and inflict vicious bites. Be careful of these two species when near reefs and in shallow water. Moray eels are very aggressive when disturbed.

In fresh water, piranha are the only significantly dangerous fish. They are inhabitants of the tropics and are restricted to northern South America. These fish are fairly small, about 5 to 7.5 centimeters, but they have very large teeth and travel in large schools. They can devour a 135-kilogram hog in minutes.

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