4 Colors to Avoid Wearing to Reduce the Risk of Attracting Sharks

When it comes to interacting with sharks, whether you’re diving, surfing, or just swimming in the ocean, it’s crucial to understand the factors that could increase your visibility to these apex predators.

One such factor is the color of your gear or clothing. While sharks’ perception of color is a subject of ongoing research, certain colors are believed to attract sharks more than others. 

1. Bright & Contrasting Colors

Image Credit: Viral Chatter

Sharks are attracted to high-contrast colors (ref), especially bright yellows, oranges, and other neon shades. These colors can stand out in the marine environment, making objects or individuals more noticeable to a shark. Bright and contrasting colors mimic the appearance of fish and other prey, which could explain why sharks investigate objects or people adorned in such hues.

Brightly colored swimwear or gear can make you more visible and potentially more attractive to sharks, especially in murky waters or at the surface where light contrasts are more pronounced.

Opting for more subdued tones could help blend with the surroundings, potentially reducing the risk of unwanted encounters.

2. White

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Image Credit: Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock.

White is another color that can attract sharks, particularly because it contrasts strongly with the ocean’s blue background. White objects, such as the underbelly of surfboards or diving suits, can resemble the belly of fish or other marine creatures that sharks prey upon.

This similarity can pique a shark’s curiosity, leading them to investigate.

Using gear or wearing predominantly white clothing, especially when surfing or paddleboarding, may increase the likelihood of shark encounters. It is advisable to choose colors that are more neutral and blend with the marine environment to minimize visibility.

3. Black

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Image Credit: L.Mendizabal/Shutterstock.

Interestingly, black is also on the list of colors that attract sharks. While it may seem counterintuitive, considering black could blend with deeper waters, it also outlines shapes clearly against lighter backgrounds. This can include the silhouette of a person swimming at the surface or the profile of a diver against the open ocean.

Sharks might mistake the outlined shape of a black wetsuit for a seal or sea lion, their natural prey, especially from below.

Although not as attention-grabbing as bright colors, black still poses a risk by highlighting your presence and shape in the water.

4. Silver & Metallic Colors

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Image Credit: Nutthpol Kandaj/Shutterstock.

Silver and metallic colors can reflect light, mimicking the sheen of fish scales. This reflective quality can catch a shark’s eye, making anything that glimmers under the water potentially more attractive to them.

Accessories, jewelry, or gear with shiny, reflective surfaces can attract curious sharks. It’s advisable to remove shiny objects before entering shark-inhabited waters or to ensure a wetsuit or clothing covers them.

Minimizing Risks

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Image Credit: Holger Kirk/Shutterstock.

Understanding the role of colors in attracting sharks is a valuable part of ensuring safety while in shark-inhabited waters. However, minimizing the risks of a shark encounter or attack involves a comprehensive approach beyond the choice of swimwear or gear color.

Here are some strategies to enhance your safety:

Swim in Groups During Daylight

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Image Credit: Mr.vicpix/Shutterstock.

Sharks are less likely to approach when humans are in groups, as this increases the perceived threat to the shark. Daylight hours, especially mid-day when the sun is brightest, are safest for water activities. This is when sharks are less active and human visibility is at its peak, reducing the risk of accidental encounters.

Avoid Attractants

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Image Credit: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.

Blood, urine, and electromagnetic pulses from injured animals can attract sharks from a distance. Ensure no fishing or baiting activities are happening nearby.

Also, avoid wearing shiny jewelry or accessories that mimic the appearance of fish scales under sunlight.

Stay in Shallow, Clear Water

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Image Credit: Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.

Deep waters and areas with poor visibility offer more opportunities for unintended shark encounters. Sharks can investigate objects and movements from afar in deep waters, mistaking humans for prey.

Staying closer to the shore and in clear waters where you can see and be seen reduces the chance of surprises for both you and potentially curious sharks.

Understand Local Shark Activity

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Image Credit: frozenblizzard/Shutterstock

Knowledge of local shark species, their behavior, and their feeding times can inform safer swimming times and areas. Avoid waters known for high shark activity, and always heed local warnings and advisories about shark sightings or attacks.

Use Shark Deterrent Technology

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Image Credit: Viral Chatter

For added peace of mind, consider investing in modern shark deterrent technologies. These can range from electronic devices emitting unpleasant frequencies to sharks to specialized wetsuits (ref) designed to confuse their visual perception. While not foolproof, these tools can serve as an additional layer of precaution.

By incorporating these focused strategies into your ocean activities, you enhance your safety while respecting sharks’ natural behaviors and habitats. This balanced approach contributes to a safer coexistence and a more enjoyable experience in marine environments.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.