David O'Doherty, Claudia O'Doherty and Mike Ahern are the creators of the book 100 Facts About Sharks
Look at the word. It even looks like a shark. That ominous dorsal of the h, rising up from the sentence, guided by the slashing, doom-seeking rudder of the k. It's coming for you! All you can do is read on, helpless.
Now say it out loud. Shark. SSSSSHH, the expectant silence as it slices through the water, AAAAAAARRRRRRR, your anguished cry of pain as it grabs you. And then KUH. The jaws slam shut, its eyes roll back and it gorges on whatever vital piece of your anatomy it felt like picnicking.
Some statistics: the average ocean swimmer devotes 12% of their thoughts to their swimming stroke, 4% to whether their swimming attire is still in position, and an astonishing 84% to whether they are about to be attacked by a shark. The figure remains as high as 45% for pool swimmers where there is absolutely no possibility of a shark attack. Studies show that successful Olympic swimmers are just those for whom the terror is most vivid.
You might think you are safe sitting there reading this. In fact 10% of shark attacks occur out of water, the most common scenarios being on the decks of fishing boats, people falling out of bed during shark nightmares, and stuffed sharks falling from their mountings in museums and crushing people to death. There are cases of angry sharks leaping from the ocean to free trapped wind, and being propelled huge distances by their own foul gust across the top of the water, and into nearby coastal villages.
You come face to face with a great white in the sea. Do you have a chance? Not really. But here are a few things you can try:
1. The great white is notoriously ticklish around the pelvic fin. Find the right spot and it will roll on to its back with a look of benign ecstasy on its face.
2. Try to embrace the animal around the gills - great whites hate intimacy
3. If possible place headphones over the shark's head and select a Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong track. Great whites also hate jazz.
Good luck in not being killed by a shark.