Don’t Piss off the Sharks!: Does urine repel sharks?

It’s summertime and the ocean seems more attractive than ever before in this sweltering heat. However, the seas house something far more dangerous than UV rays: sharks. Discovery’s Shark Week marathon scenarios come to life during the summer when the waters are invaded by thousands of swimmers, surfers, snorkelers, you name it.

So, what to do when going for a dip and an unexpected shark shows up? It is commonly believed that human urine repels sharks. Which is great given the likelihood you will involuntarily wet yourself out of fear. Can you actually prevent a shark attack by urinating?

Unfortunately, no; peeing in the presence of a shark will bring no additional protection at all.  In an experiment conducted by the National Geographic’s Shark Experiment Live team urine was not proven to be a repellent against shark attacks. In the experiment a male and female diver of equal size in the same wetsuit dove into Great White shark-infested waters while keeping their distance. One diver had a bottle of human urine, which he slowly opened, and let the urine seep into the water. The great white did not react to the presence of the urine in the water in any way.  However, scent detection is highly important to these sharks for eight-teen percent of its brain is made up of its olfactory bulbs.

Nevertheless there is another type of urine might be of help in the future. Nineteen types of semiochemicals, chemicals that convey messages from one organism to another thus altering the behavior of the recipient organism, have been found in the urine of ranging wolverines. Flower use semiochemicals to mimic sexual attractants to attract pollinating insects such as bees. Semiochemicals are the star ingredient in the current shark repellent under development. That’s right, chemist Eric Stroud developed a shark repellent that shifts the animal from hunting mode to flight mode.  But what should you do now when there are no shark repellents next to the insect repellents at Walmart?

There has always been a lack of insight in shark behavior because it is so inconsistent and complex. Global warming and ocean pollution have lead to a decline in edible prey for sharks and as opportunistic animals they feed on what it can find. Combine this with the amazing vacation packages that include water activities such as surfing and snorkeling, the increase in tourists in water skyrocket thus increasing the incidents of shark attacks in general. What you should do is remain calm but don’t play dead and keep your eyes on the shark at all times (they tend to leave and sneak up on you later). Then you should try to smoothly get out of the water as quickly as possible. If the unfortunate happens; fight. Take your fists and aim for the gills and the eyes. Sharks trash their prey in their mouths in order to dismember them so if you find yourself in its jaws, hold on to the animal. The best thing you can do is your research and avoid going to shark infested areas and never go out to open sea by yourself.

For more information on shark attack prevention visit

by Michelle Santiago



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