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February 3, 2010

Young New Zealand resident Lydia Ward was playing with her brother in the water off Oreti Beach when she was suddenly attacked by a shark that grabbed her hip.

Amazingly, the 14-year-old kept her wits about her and managed to fight off the big fish by hitting it on the head with a body board. In the end, she only suffered superficial bites and did not even require stitches, according to the Huffington Post.

Ward later told reporters from National Radio that her quick reaction was prompted by an account she had read of a surfer who chased a shark away with her board. "That's what she did, and that's what you're meant to do," she said, quoted by the news provider.

Though not as frequent as in Australia and New Zealand, shark attacks have also occurred in the U.S. In fact, data from the University of Florida suggest that between 1916 and 2008, a total of 100 people have been attacked by sharks, and 12 died, in American coastal waters.

Experts from the university's Museum of Natural History suggest that staying in groups, avoiding swimming after dark and far from the shore can minimize the risk of being attacked.

Moreover, individuals who are bleeding should refrain from entering waters where the predators might be present. The experts also recommend taking off shiny jewelry that sharks may mistake for fish scales. Similarly, excessive splashing can lead a shark to mistake a swimmer for an injured animal and attack.

Survivors and their families may access valuable information that can help them thrive in the wake of a predator attack on the Trauma Resource Institute's website.
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