How to respond to an encounter with a wild animal depends on which animal it is. We'll break it down for you, in a list adapted from this article:
  1. Alligators
    If an alligator does attack, fight back by hitting, kicking or poking it in the eyes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommends getting immediate medical attention, too, as alligator bites can result in severe infection. (And if you want to avoid this altogether? Avoid swimming between dusk and dawn when the animals are more active.)
  2. Bears
    If you do encounter a bear at a distance, slowly back away. If you surprise one, do not run as it may trigger a chase response. Slowly retreat, drawing your bear spray if you have it. If the bear charges, stand your ground and begin spraying it when it is 30 to 60 feet away. Only when it makes contact should you play dead to show that you are not a threat. Fighting back during an attack only makes it worse.
  3. Mountain lion
    Attacks are extremely rare. But if you are attacked, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation, do not run, but stand tall and open your coat or raise your arms to look big. Maintain eye contact, slowly wave your arms, speak firmly and throw items at the mountain lion if necessary.
  4. Sharks
    If you are attacked by a shark, pound it on the nose and scratch at its eyes and gills. To prevent shark attacks, don't swim at dawn, dusk or night. Don't swim where people are fishing, where fish are schooling or where seabirds are feeding. And don't wear shiny jewelry in the water.