Punching A Shark In The Nose Is A Great Way To Become Fish Food

Punching A Shark In The Nose Is A Great Way To Become Fish Food

As any armchair ichthyologist will tell you, the most sensitive part of a shark is its electroreceptive snout. This has given rise to the belief that a sharp punch in the nose will repel almost any shark attack. As it turns out, this is usually a very bad idea that can result in losing your fingers, hand or even arm. Here’s what you should do instead.

IFLScience recently debunked 10 homespun survival myths that the Bear Grylls wannabes of the world loudly swear by. In reality, most of these “survival tips” will put you in a worse predicament than before and could even kill you outright.

This includes the widely held belief that punching a shark on the nose will convince it to bugger off and bother some mackerel or something. While it’s true that sharks don’t enjoy having their noses messed with, the chances of landing a solid punch underwater are perilously slim. You’re a lot more likely to badly gash your knuckles on its teeth and trigger a feeding frenzy.

Even if your aim is true, the success of the counterattack will largely depend on how committed the shark is to eating prey at that particular moment. If the shark is old or starving (which maneaters often are), a whack on the nose with your comically ineffectual hands is unlikely to put it off its dinner.

According to the brain boffins at IFLScience, you should try searching for a large solid object instead:

It’s really hard to land a solid punch on the nose of a moving shark. In the rare cases where a shark comes in for a bite, try to put a solid object between you and animal. If that fails, claw at its eyes and gills.

So the next time you’re chilling in the ocean and a distressingly large dorsal fin makes a beeline towards you, save the schnoz chop-socky as an absolute last resort. You can find more information on shark repellents and survival tips here and here.

[Via IFLScience]


  • Wait, so it is false or just hard to do? I mean I get that a shark is built to cut through water so your punch probably isn’t going to land anywhere near it’s nose, but if it did hit the target would the shark be more likely to piss off than if you punched it elsewhere?

  • My level headed armchair response would be to jam my fist into it’s gills. But I assume if it actually came down to it, I would probably panic and try to swim away.

    • Agreed. I think my reaction would probably splash around frantically and make myself appear just like a land animal struggling in the water.

  • Sharks are the reason divers do two things; dive with a buddy and carry a knife. If you see a hungry shark, stab your buddy and fin like crazy out of there!

    Seriously, though a hand in the gills would be my trick. Have dived with a lot of sharks. Had fun hypnotising the smaller reef sharks, and have been in the water with 5m tigers and whites… Lucky never had to try the gill trick.

  • The nose punch usually works because the shark isn’t trying to eat you. It’s curious. They sense thing through smell, the magnetic nose thing and by touch. They touch with there mouth. A lot of bites aren’t proper attacks they’re just checking you out and a hit anywhere can put them off in that case.

    • That’s what I thought too. It would approach you jaws first. If you’re reaching around its sides to the gills, doesn’t that put your centre of mass right in front of its mouth?

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