Is it safe to go surfing when menstruating? Laird didn’t suppose so but…guess who’s right?
Surf News Network, May 25, 2017 – When gossip site TMZ, hot on the story of rising shark sightings in Southern California, ambushed Laird Hamilton in a Malibu parking lot the legendary waterman was asked “What are the odds of being bitten? A lot of people are kind of worried (about sharks).”
In a video that’s now become famous Hamilton, looking caught off guard, rambled off an answer about shark attacks not being fatal, then said it’s usually a case of mistaken identity. Then he dropped the bomb that lit up the internet.
“The biggest, the most common reason to be bitten is a woman with her period, which people don’t even think about that,” a disheveled Hamilton told the reporter. “Obviously if a woman has her period, there’s a certain amount of blood in the water.”
While the fallout has been severe on sites like Huffington Post:
“This is one of those misconceptions that refuses to die,” Lowe told HuffPost. “In fact, the amount of blood loss during menstruation is probably less than an average scrape or cut that a kid or surfer may get while playing in the water.”
Lowe explained that kids with minor injuries aren’t commonly attacked by sharks, so it’s unlikely that the animals would bite menstruating women losing more than 2 fluid ounces of blood over the span of a week.
“The bottom line is it takes a lot more than just a little blood to get a shark’s attention,” Lowe said.
Shark behavior expert Ralph S. Collier once tested to see if wild sharks were attracted to menstrual blood and other bodily fluids, but found that the only liquid that elicited a reaction was liquid from the abdominal cavity ― not menstrual blood, according to Mother Jones. However, blood from sharks’ real prey (sea otters or cetacean) did move the sharks into a feeding frenzy, Collier added.
The Daily Mail has also publicly spoken out against Laird. “He’s the world’s most iconic big wave surfer, but Laird Hamilton may still have a way to go in the realm of science”.
We did a little research to find out if surfing during your period can attract sharks. First off, the amount of blood is minimal and much less compared to the average scrape or cut.
“The amount of blood that is produced during menstruation (about 2 ounces over the entire cycle) is so small that it becomes background with all of the other components that are in the water,” says Dr. Chris Lowe, head of California State University, Long Beach’s Shark Lab told Outside Magazine in a 2012 article. “It would be very difficult for a shark to localize that.”
Last year a Dr. Steve Kajiura from Florida Atlantic University’s Shark Lab said there was no evidence that sharks attack those who are menstruating more than other people. Another reason sighted against Laird’s short-scienced comment is that tampons work pretty well at preventing leaking, yes, even while surfing.