Fear of Sharks while Stand up Paddle Boarding in Southern Cali
August 26, 2017 1:37 PM   Subscribe

How can I get over my fear of great white sharks while while stand up Paddle boarding in the open ocean in Southern California?

I recently got hooked on Stand up Paddle Boarding. I love it. I'm addicted to it. I go to the marinas, canals, and local lakes here in Southern California. I went once in Malibu with a group which was fun. But unfortunately I can't seem to bring myself to go back to malibu and do it on my own because I'm afraid of being attacked by a great white shark. Any paddle boarders or surfers out there with some advice to help me get over my fear? I think I'm missing out on Stand up Paddle boarding in one of the best spots...Malibu and other great open ocean areas. Seems like there's been more and more great white shark sightings in southern Cali. I realize that statistically it's highly unlikely that I'll have any contact with a great white shark. I guess I just watched jaws one too many times as a kid. Any thoughts of encouragement or advice would be great.
posted by ljs30 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's just one of those things where you have to decide you want it more than you fear it I'm afraid. It's not an irrational fear, it's a real but unlikely risk so your brain isn't wrong.

Fear is part of the experience of being out on the ocean in any way, for some people it's overwhelming and for some it's just fleeting bouts. But you can't get rid of fear, only learn to react differently to it. You'll hear a lot of people phrasing it as "respect" which is basically fear they've come to terms with and can function comfortably alongside. That's normal over time, people get used go anything. Or most of us do anyway.
posted by fshgrl at 2:03 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

the Sheriff department may warn you when sharks are nearby so you can exit the water calmly & safely
posted by TheAdamist at 2:04 PM on August 26, 2017

It's just one of those things where you have to decide you want it more than you fear it I'm afraid. It's not an irrational fear, it's a real but unlikely risk so your brain isn't wrong.

Just like flying for me! I know all the statistics, but I'm still terrified. You just need to decide if you're so scared that you won't do what you enjoy, or if you'll suck it up and take the small risk.
posted by amro at 2:16 PM on August 26, 2017

When I'm afraid of something like this - something with very small but non-negligible risk - it helps me to strategize (a) ways to reduce the risk and (b) what to do if I am unlucky enough to have the bad thing happen. I don't know much about sharks, but you might start here.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2017

My fear of ocean critters diminished significantly once I got certified to scuba dive. I've dived with hammerheads, baracuda, stingrays, all manner of freaky and poisonous fish and none of them bother me now. Except eels. Fuck eels.

Anyway, part of it is just observing them in their own habitat and knowing to keep your distance, and part of it is overriding the irrational part of your brain.
posted by Brittanie at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just close your eyes :)
posted by zeoslap at 5:47 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is a sort of oblique answer to your question, but I think this video of sharks in Marina Del Rey is relevant to your concerns. Be sure to watch it all the way, though. Despite the ominous music, I promise it ends well.
posted by reren at 8:11 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Afraid of sharks in Florida? Flu and asteroids pose a far greater risk.
My assumption is that this formula holds true for Southern California as well.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:41 AM on August 27, 2017

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