I recently watched a video of a very lucky marine scientist who was bitten and dragged by a crocodile while diving in the Caribbean. Fortunately, the croc only latched on to her for about 10 seconds, and the only damage it caused was a few puncture holes and bite marks on her leg. A medic on the dive team cleaned the wounds, and they evacuated to a hospital where she was treated and released, and she has lived to tell the tale.
This is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, it’s very difficult to get out of an alligator or crocodile attack once they’ve latched on to the body. Second, even if someone was able to escape, they would need to contend with the possibility that the wounds becoming severely-infected. In fact, alligator and crocodile mouths are some of the dirtiest in the sea, and infections can be deadly if not caught in time.
The diver did what she thought was right during the encounter. She didn’t move the leg that was in the croc’s mouth, she tried to twist and turn her body to mirror the croc, and she hoped for the best. She was trained to think that these predators will usually let go of their prey if they’re still. While this choice worked well in her situation, experts suggest that people who are being bitten and grabbed by these predatory reptiles should fight back instead by aiming for the eyes or the soft palette inside the attacker’s mouth in order to force water down its throat.
At the end of the day, all of these defense techniques can work, depending on the nature of the situation at hand. However, it’s important to remember that these options are not all that good either, and a lot of escapes ultimately depend on luck and the animal’s willingness to let go and pursue other prey. However, in most cases, it’s the attacker who will win no matter what we try.
No Good Option
We always want to find ways to get out of impossible situations, to turn our misfortunes into advantages that may help to keep us alive. However, crocodile and alligator attacks represent the rare survival situations that are very difficult to get out of alive. Consequently, no matter what we try, the odds are against us from the start. Even if we were bitten and dragged, and somehow managed to escape, chances are that we will be leaving the water with one less limb than what we started with.
This takes us to the moral of this story: Not every survival situation is winnable. Preparedness, training, skill and making good decisions in the throws of a crisis will undoubtedly give us options, and at least a fighting chance, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll experience the outcome that we hope to achieve.
That being said, one of the best things that all of us can do is avoid trouble in the first place whenever possible. Almost every alligator and crocodile attack is preventable as long as we stay away from areas where they hunt or defend their territory. The same can be applied to all kinds of hazards that we encounter on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s just better to walk away, turn around, or stay away if danger presents itself.
Risk reduction is the single, most important thing that we can all do to avoid being caught up in the middle of life-or-death situations. When we engage in risky behavior to begin with, we’re inviting trouble into our lives, and sometimes that trouble can not be resolved despite our best efforts.
We’re hearing a lot of stories as of late about people who tried to tempt fate, to push the edge of the envelope or to defy the laws of gravity and physics, and they lost. Don’t be one of them, because most aren’t as fortunate as this diver was.