The sun is warm, the sea azure, the cocktails potent. Even the arrival of our dear Aunt Flo won’t stop us enjoying the ocean breeze or taking a paddle in those oh-so-clear waters. But hang on a minute, if we’re on our period and go in the sea, won’t that put us on the menu for sharks? As if getting cramps in the heat and checking your tampon string isn’t hanging out the side of your bikini bottoms isn’t enough.
Swimming in the ocean while you’re shedding blood isn’t actually that big of a deal though, honest. Turns out we’re more at risk from perfecting our beachside selfie than we are to be gobbled up by a hungry set of deep-sea gnashers.
Last year, more people died while trying to take a selfie than from shark attacks, according to The Huffington Post. Amazingly, 12 people croaked it while getting creative with their selfie skills. Falling down the steps of the Taj Mahal and getting gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park are counted among the imaginative, yet tragic, incidents. In the shark corner, however, only eight people died as a result of a shark attack in 2015.
“Sharks aren’t always on the hunt. They’re not mindless, psychotic eating machines,” says Katy Duke, curator at The Deep aquarium in Hull.
She dives in the tank with various species of shark throughout the month and doesn’t notice the sharks sniffing her bits when it’s that special time.
“In the ocean, sharks aren’t attracted to humans. There are more interesting smells – we’re nothing compared with an injured seal or flapping and stressed fish in a fisherman’s net.
“Yes, they’re predators and they can smell blood and other odours from a distance, but this is essential for their survival. Resources in open water are scarce and blood can signal a potentially injured animal, which means an easy meal,” says Katy.
So does that not mean our period blood could make us an easy meal, then?
Well, when we menstruate, we’re not just leaking blood; it’s mixed with all sorts of other fluids. According to the YouTube series, Gross Science, our periods are made up of cells from the uterus, immune cells, vaginal secretions and blood.
Along with this, we experience hormonal and pheromone changes that we emit from the skin during our period. Katy says this novelty and change to a shark’s environment may make them curious, but it doesn’t mean we become a delicacy.
The Deep’s Science Officer, Graham Hill, adds that we’re just not worth it: “Sharks assess prey in terms of nutritional value versus the energy needed to kill it.”
Just like that emotionally unavailable ex, humans are too much effort for not enough gain. Compared to seals, for example, we don’t have enough blubber.
Isn’t that a comforting thought when you’ve overindulged your menstrual-binge cravings?
So go for that slow-mo’ run into the ocean with abandon, saltwater splashing up your bronzed legs. Just take care when you stretch out your phone, grinning into the camera for a sun-kissed selfie, hashtag paradise… there’s a shark behind you!
Jokes: he’s not that into you anyway.
By Karli Drinkwater
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