Scuba diver, here.
Guys, sharks have an undeserved bad rep and I blame the media for much of it. Nine times out of ten, they’re (sharks, not the media. Altho sometimes I wonder…) going after what they think is prey on the surface of the water. To them you just look like lunch. Nothing personal.
If you’re gonna paddle around on the surface, that activity engenders a risk you’re going to have to accept. Which is why I personally don’t do snorkeling, surfing, etc. Let’s face it: you’re on their turf, so to speak, and **they **are the predators, not us. You splashing about is tantamount to ringing the dinner bell as far as they’re concerned. In fact, when I’m diving, the only time I get a little nervous is while I’m still on the surface either getting into the water or out of it.
Under water, now, it’s a different story. I’ve been close up and personal with a shark or ten in my dive history - including blacktip reef sharks and scalloped hammerheads.
They all looked at me, I looked at them (scalloped hammers are gorgeous, btw!), I made no sudden moves, did nothing to attract attention, and… exit sharks stage right. Or left. And in half of those encounters I was diving alone.
Now. That said, I will add this. Of all the sharks in the ocean, the Great White notwithstanding, the only one that I would be concerned about personally is the Bull. They’re born cranky and have the attitude to match. Any place there’s been a bull sighting is a place I will avoid like the plague.
Mr. Nylock is correct. Bulls can swim in brackish to fresh water for periods of time. The 1916 Jersey Shore attacks have been attributed to either/or the Bull and the Great White - neither proven fact, however.
Just for the record, I personally limit my swimming activities to water that has a blue painted bottom to it. YMMMV.