The last two years have been unusually dangerous for surfers and swimmers. In 2011, fatal shark attacks across the globe reached a 20-year high, according to NBC News. Out of 75 attacks around the world, 12 were fatal. Already in 2012, more than 29 people in the United States have been attacked.
But while sharks are clearly the dominant species in the ocean, humans are—literally—starting to fight back. In two different incidences in the past few days, Californians survived shark attacks by punching their aggressors.
The first event happened this weekend off the island of Maui in Hawaii. Mariko Haugen of Folsom, CA. was swimming with her husband when she came face-to-face with a 12-foot tiger shark.
Haugen told News 10 that she was thankful for her quick thinking and her martial arts training.
"My Tae Kwan Do prepared me to learn how to punch," she said. "I punched it twice…” The shark then swam away.
The next encounter happened on Tuesday when 25-year-old California surfer Scott Stephens was bitten by a shark in the waters around Humbolt County.
Stephens sais he opened his eyes underwater, saw the shark and then punched it on the side of its head until it let go. He then got back on his board and paddled to the beach where he was assisted by fellow surfers. Stephens needed a lengthy operation to repair the deep lacerations on his side caused by the attack.