Rip currents vs. sharks - Here’s what Texas officials say you need to be concerned about when you go to the beach

Do not swim during a rip current advisory

In this March 12, 2020 photo, waves crash on the shoreline in the same location where The Associated Press documented crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washing ashore in Gulf Shores, Ala. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Gerald Herbert, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Texas – People are often nervous about the ocean due to a concern about sharks but there’s very little need for concern when it comes to these fish.

Texas officials at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) warn swimmers that the real danger is rip currents - where water can move at speeds of up to 8 feet per second, faster than any human can swim.

In a Facebook post this week, PINS officials said it’s paramount that you check for rip current advisories before swimming.

If you’re planning a trip to the coast you can check for rip current advisories here.

Swimming is not recommended during any rip current advisory but if you do find yourself caught in a rip current, there are ways that you can try to escape.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in addition to the United States Lifesaving Association, put together the following tips for people who get caught in a rip current:

  • Don’t fight against the current
  • Swim out of the current and then to shore
  • If you can’t escape, float or tread water
  • If you need help, call or wave for assistance

The Facebook post below shows a photo of how you might be able to escape these powerful currents.

People often ask us if they should be worried about sharks when visiting the beach to swim. In actuality you are far...

Posted by Padre Island National Seashore on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

For anyone who is still concerned about shark attacks - they are exceedingly rare. In fact, a report from the Los Angeles Times notes that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a shark.

2020 statistics for shark attacks are not yet available but 2019 statistics show that there were 64 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks worldwide - lower than the preceding five-year average.

So, according to the experts, there’s little cause for concern regarding sharks but rip currents are something you need to watch out for.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.