What to do if you see a shark or stingray in the water?

Updated: Jul. 17, 2019 at 8:41 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -In the wake of recent shark attacks, what would you do if you saw a shark up close?

Experts say you're less likely to be attacked by a shark if you're with a group of people. Swimmers want to make sure that they avoid going in the water in the dark as well because that's when sharks are more active.

But, if a shark is near you in the water, stay calm and don’t flail your arms. Experts say the best thing to do is to swim slowly and keep eye contact with the shark. They say the only time you should defend yourself is if a shark looks aggressive. In that case hit either its nose, eyes, or its gill openings.

Sarasota County’s Beach Captain Roy Routh said beachgoers shouldn’t be worried about seeing a shark close to shore on the Suncoast.

"I would not be concerned with that. We rarely ever clear the water for sharks. Generally if you have one coming in the swim zone, usually they're after something that they're interested in which is another fish. Not us," Routh said.

He said it's more common to see jellyfish or stingrays at a Suncoast beach. Jellyfish are pretty easy to see in the water, but stingrays can be more difficult to find.

"They tend to come into the shallow water they cover themselves with sand so generally you don't see them so we suggest to do the stingray shuffle where you shuffle your feet so you don't step on one and it scares them off," said Routh.

Beachgoers should look out for a purple flag flying at the lifeguard stand, which means there is dangerous marine life present in the water.

To see if it’s a good day to go into the water, head over to before heading to the beach.

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