The probability of shark attacks is negligibly low, but still this kind of danger does exist. According to the statistics, there were totally 108 shark attacks in 2008 (10 persons dead), 101 in 2009 (8 persons dead), 94 in 2010 (8 persons dead), and 118 in 2011 (15 persons dead).
A detailed map of shark attacks can be seen here
However, surfers are always in particular danger, as a man floating on a board and paddling with his arms, if seen from below, looks very much like a sea lion. And sea lions make one of the most favorite delicacies for sharks that often attack surfers by mistake.
One of the places surfers like best of all is Southern California, USA, with its numerous beaches and surf spots. But the situation there is quite severe too. The undersea world near the California coast is pretty rich in various sea fauna representatives, including different kinds of sharks: great white sharks, bullhead sharks, tiger sharks, smooth hounds, cat sharks, horn sharks, blue sharks, and others. Some of them are not dangerous to humans, but attacks do occur sometimes though.
The situation is more dangerous near the Farallon Islands, which have become a great native habitat for sea lions and fur seals. This is the location of the so-called food reserve for the largest sharks.
So what should we do to avoid shark attacks and how should we behave if we get attacked? First of all, you should avoid surfing near the places where rivers, rich in fish, flow into the ocean. You shouldn't swim near harbors and fishing boats either. Fish remains and the blood on them may attract sharks, as they are able to smell the smallest amount of blood even at a distance of several kilometers.
So, if you are going with your board into the water, examine your body for any fresh wounds and cuts. And if you get wounded in the water, this is just another reason to come out onto the beach immediately, even if the wound is not too deep. It would also be good to warn other surfers around you so that they move away from the blood spot.
By the way, regardless of the fact that sharks have rather weak eyesight, they prefer hunting at dawn, at sunset, and at night. Thus, you should avoid going into the ocean late in the evening. However, sharks are good at seeing contrasts, so do not wear any bright suits (the most suitable colors are black or grey, but never wear any yellow or orange). And leave all your adornments and shining things ashore.
If you notice that other sea creatures are behaving abnormally or you can see a shark yourself, you should start moving, slowly but purposefully, towards the coast. Sharks get annoyed by any chaotic movements in the water. If the shark doesn't attack you, don't bother it yourself.
Just like dogs, sharks can feel the fear of their victims by sensing the bioelectric activity of the brain, which is why it is extremely important to remain calm when meeting a shark. If you feel sliding or hitting beside you, start moving straight out of the water without thinking twice. Bites and pain feel a little deadened in the water and so they may remain unnoticed.
There are following types of shark attacks. Sometimes there may be just a single bite. In this case the victim must be taken out of the water as fast as possible and rendered first aid: call an ambulance, control bleeding, immobilize the body and keep it warm.
The attack may be more aggressive when the shark starts swimming round the victim, approaching it closer and closer. This kind of situation is more dangerous. If the shark attacks, try to hit it in the head and in the eyes. As a rule, once meeting with a rebuff, sharks swim away without continuing the attack.
If someone around you gets attacked by a shark, you should help the person out of the water immediately. According to the statistics, sharks never attack other people in the water, even when they are near the victim.
Although there are rules to be observed, don't forget to relax and enjoy your time on the water. Or why do we need all that?