Sharks in Thailand: habitat, stories of attacks on people, safety on the beach and ways to avoid danger

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Sharks in Thailand: habitat, stories of attacks on people, safety on the beach and ways to avoid danger
Sharks in Thailand: habitat, stories of attacks on people, safety on the beach and ways to avoid danger

More and more of our fellow citizens are looking to Asia as a holiday destination. Thailand is one of the most popular countries for tourists in this region. And not only because of the many cultural treasures, one of the cheapest shopping and the delights of sex tourism, but also because of the impeccable beaches. Recent reports of sharks in Thailand have not dampened the desire to visit this country. Let's try to separate the "flies from cutlets" in this matter. And at the same time find out if there are sharks in Thailand and what is the probability of meeting them.

sharks in thailand
sharks in thailand

Land of the Free

That's what the Thais call their homeland. One of the most visited countries in the southeast region of Asia has an area of about 514 thousand m22, beautiful tropical beaches on the coast of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of ThailandSouth China Sea. It is a country of a constitutional monarchy, with nearly 33,000 Buddhist temples and a population where every 170 citizens are a strict monk. In the equatorial waters here you can meet the largest fish - the whale shark (body length - up to 10 meters, weight - up to 20 tons), and in the tropical forest - the smallest mammal - the pig-nosed bat (body length - up to 3 centimeters, and weight - up to 2 grams).

Heaven on earth

Due to the tropical and subtropical climate, the tourism business here is year-round. Popular with tourists:

  1. Bangkok is the local "city of angels", the capital of the country.
  2. The "Pearl of the South" Phuket is the most populous island in the southwest of the country.
  3. "Urban" type of recreation. Pattaya is a resort where life does not stop even at night.
  4. Peaceful tropical island Koh Samui - idyllic beauty and simplicity on the edge of the earth with white beaches and warm sea water of the Gulf of Thailand.

In any corner of the country, a tourist will meet with Thai secrets and understanding that the main thing is hidden inside: names, temples, sights. And yet the main direction of tourism in this country is the beach and sea direction. Underwater walks, diving and snorkeling in these tropical waters are unforgettable experiences.

shark attacked tourist in thailand
shark attacked tourist in thailand

What about sharks?

In Thailand, according to official statistics, sharks do not attack people. And the Thais only smile when asked about the attacks of these predators. Yet the April 2018 reports of a shark attackon the tourist make the fear of meeting with them very relevant. Recall that in April 2018, the beach in the popular resort of Sai Noi (Hua Hin city) was closed for 20 days. It happened after a shark attacked a tourist in Thailand. A tourist from Norway was bitten by a blunt or bull shark, in addition, there is evidence of about 30-40 similar individuals seen in coastal waters. It is assumed that these were young individuals (up to 1 year old) of medium size (up to 1 meter). In addition to the closure of the beaches, the authorities have notified tourists that fencing nets from predators will be installed in the beach area.

what are the sharks in thailand
what are the sharks in thailand


In the last 2 years in Thailand there have been several encounters with these predators, but all were in the open sea in the waters of Koh Samui and Phuket. Why bull sharks ended up in the coastal area of Sai Noi Beach remains a mystery to biologists.

An unconfirmed attack on Phuket was reported in September 2015. An Australian scuba diver was bitten on the leg offshore. That it was a shark has never been officially confirmed.

The Museum of Natural History (Florida) maintains general statistics on the attacks of these predators. According to this source for the period 1580-2017. only 1 fatal attack was recorded in Thailand (2000, Koh Phangan). This is much less than in the Philippines, India and Indonesia.

Who lives in the waters of Thailand?

What sharks live in these waters? Recall that the collective name "sharks" we call about 526 species of fish of the superorder cartilaginous, carnivorous and mainlylarge, which have a torpedo-shaped body and jaw with many rows of pointed teeth. Only three species (whale, giant, largemouth) from this variety are not predators, and just one such representative can be found in Thailand. Sharks found here are as follows:

  1. Medium aggressive predators - gray, leopard, black, tiger, several types of reef sharks. These are representatives of the relatively shallow Gulf of Thailand.
  2. Highly aggressive predators - white, blue, mako, hammerhead shark, bull shark. These are large fish that feed on large prey (tuna, seals, dolphins). These are deep-sea oceanic species that sometimes enter the waters of the Andaman Sea. It is the meeting with these sharks on the beaches of Thailand that scares vacationers so much.
  3. Not a predatory filter feeder whale shark. Impressive and large, which swims in the water column and feeds on plankton. It is with this shark that scuba divers love to take pictures with this shark in Thailand. This species is listed in the Red Book and has been considered vulnerable since 2000.
shark attack in thailand
shark attack in thailand

Probability of meeting and consequences

Sharks in Thailand are common in all waters, because this is their natural habitat. But meeting them is not so easy - being an object of hunting for local residents, they are shy, cautious, and avoid meeting people and ships. But if a person is alone and he is a diver, the likelihood of such a meeting increases.

And yet shark attacks in Thailand are very rare. A tourist is more likely to see these predators in aquariums. And the worldstatistics provide data on no more than 10 human victims from the attacks of these predators per year. And this is several times less than the number of people killed in car accidents or killed by household electrical appliances.

shark attacked man in thailand
shark attacked man in thailand

How is it?

Contact with these predators can be provoked by a person or not provoked, but there are several scenarios for its development:

  1. Aggressive behavior of a predator is accompanied by warning signals, but no attack is made. This happens in 42% of shark encounters worldwide.
  2. Shark tastes its prey and leaves, meeting resistance (31%).
  3. The Predator does not stop trying to get what he wants and repeats attack after attack. Here it is - who wins. This is how events unfold in 27% of encounters with these carnivorous fish.
  4. According to scientists from the Canadian Ichthyological Laboratory, men are more likely to be the subject of shark attacks than women. This is due to a higher level of stress hormones (adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol), which is released into the blood when men are at risk. The ampullae of Lorenzini, which are located on the snout of sharks, very clearly feel exactly these stress substances.

How not to be a victim?

If you don't want to be the subject of reports that a shark attacked a man in Thailand, stick to the following rules:

  1. The main thing is attention. On the beach, pay attention to the presence of a metal mesh fence and signs warning about the danger of sharks. Swim forthe grid is more expensive for itself, but there may not be signs. And again, the main thing is attention.
  2. The sense of smell of sharks is amazing - they smell a drop of blood from several kilometers away. If there is at least a small wound - give up swimming and diving. Swimming in the upper layers of the water - snorkeling - creates a lot of noise, which also attracts a predator. This is how a wounded animal behaves, and you are not an animal and not injured.
  3. Diving in the water column is cool, but dangerous. Here, when meeting with sharks, the main thing is not to panic. Move smoothly, and the fish may not see you as prey.
  4. Recent data suggests sharks have better eyesight than cats. In addition, they distinguish colors. Shiny watches and flashy details on a wetsuit can play tricks when encountering sharks.
  5. Night swims and dives are, of course, romantic. But many sharks just hunt at night. And besides them, in the waters of Thailand in the dark you can not see dangerous jellyfish, sea urchins or stones. And there, it’s not far to meet the predator.
  6. It is a mistake to say that sharks are found only in clean waters. Turbid and contaminated with human waste water is very attractive to these predators.
are there sharks in thailand
are there sharks in thailand

Well, a 100% guarantee not to see a predator in its natural habitat is to swim in the hotel pool. But we are not weaklings!

shark on the beach in thailand
shark on the beach in thailand

If the meeting did take place

These tips are for divers - after all, they are at risk for the likelihood of contactwith these carnivorous fish.

  1. Don't panic, don't make sudden movements.
  2. Take a pose that is not typical for fish - take a vertical position and spread your legs and arms wide.
  3. Try not to wet yourself - the new bodily fluid in the water will invariably interest the predator.
  4. If the attack happened, fight back. Most often, in this case, the sharks retreat and do not feel their clear superiority. The most vulnerable places of a predator are the snout, eyes and gills. Strikes must be fast and repeated.
  5. Pray the cougar isn't too hungry or too pushy.
sharks at the bottom
sharks at the bottom

And although sharks have not eaten anyone in the waters of the Gulf of Thailand, remember, we are guests in the water. And for sharks, this is a legal territory where they live for millions of years, outlived the dinosaurs and became absolute and unconditional predators.