I Want to Surf in Puerto Rico… Should I Be Worried About Sharks?

Nothing is more ominous than a silver-grey fin breaking the surface of the gentle ocean. It could be a friendly dolphin coming closer for a visit… or it could be a shark honing in on the kill. The movie “Jaws” has helped perpetuate the idea of sharks as killers, and of course, shark attacks on surfers are legitimate concerns. But is this because the steely-jawed, sharp-toothed fish is a natural-born killer, or is there another reason behind shark attacks on surfers? And, are you in danger surfing the waters of Rincon, Puerto Rico?

First of all, it should be noted that Puerto Rico is relatively low on the list of shark attacks that have been recorded since 1580. In a Surfer Today article, the United States, namely Florida and California, top the list for shark attacks recorded. Australia comes in second, with the most fatalities occurring there. Puerto Rico is thirty-ninth on the list worldwide, and has seen only 11 attacks and two recorded fatalities, the last occurring in 1924. So, does this mean the waters of Puerto Rico are shark-free, or do you have to be worried on your surfing vacation?

One thing to keep in mind is that sharks generally do not attack humans just for the sake of attacking them. Think about what your body might look like from under the water if you’re paddling out on a surfboard. You might be surprised to realize you look much like a sea turtle or a sea lion, which are prey for many sharks. Taking the proper precautions can help you avoid being attacked. Here are a few things you can do, according to the Speak Up for Blue website:

  • Stay in groups. Sharks are more likely to attack isolated “prey,” so make sure not to wander off alone.
  • Stay closer to shore. As above, this can cause isolation, and can place you too far away from assistance.
  • Don’t go out at night. Sharks are much more active at night, and have a heightened senses. You as a human are at a distinct disadvantage in the darkness.
  • Avoid murky waters. This should go without saying, but it’s much harder for you to see what’s in the water – but sharks can easily see you.
  • Don’t go in the water. At least, don’t go in when there’s a shark warning. That means sharks have been spotted, or there has possibly been an attack. Better safe than sorry.

When you surf at Maria’s Beach in Rincón, Puerto Rico, you aren’t all that likely to encounter a shark, at least a deadly Great White. Most of the sharks that spend their time in the waters off the coast of Rincón are nurse sharks, which are smaller, docile and generally hide in the reefs and feed on small fish and crustaceans. It’s always a good idea, too, to work with one of the many skilled surfing instructors located in Rincón. They have a full understanding of the waters and can help you enjoy safe, fun surfing!