Many people have a firm view on sharks, however, the following shark attack statistics will highlight the truth behind these majestic creatures.
Sharks are intensely beautiful creatures. I have long been fascinated by them. From the monstrous creatures of Jaws and the Meg to the real creatures that gracefully dominate our oceans, Sharks are all around tremendous animals.
Peter Benchley, the man behind Jaws, wrote his book about the killer shark but spent the rest of his days undoing the devastating image he created. Sharks have a fearsome reputation, and while they are undoubtedly, apex predators, they are much more than that.
Interesting Shark Attack Facts and Statistics
Below are five of the most interesting shark facts.
- There are three different types of shark attacks.
- Most sharks attacking humans do so out of curiosity.
- Great White Sharks are most commonly involved in human-shark interactions.
- Out of around 1,000 species of sharks and rays, only three have reached the double attack digits.
- The state of Florida has reported almost twice as many shark attacks than the whole of Australia.
Why Do Sharks Attack People?
As stated above, the main reason sharks attack people is because of curiosity. While it doesn’t make a very good catchphrase, curiosity is what draws sharks to humans. When humans enter the water and start swimming, paddling, or splashing around, they draw a shark’s attention.
There is no objective evidence to suggest that sharks actively hunt humans in the water.
Below are eight statistics discussing why sharks attack people.
The Incidence of Fatal Shark Attacks Is 1 in 3,748,067
In an article published in USA Today, it was revealed that the odds of dying as a result of a shark attack in the USA is 1 in 3,748,067.
This means that you are more likely to die from an attack from wasps, dogs, or snakes than you are from sharks.
Stats Show There Were 73 Unprovoked Bites and Attacks in 2021
During 2021 there were a total of 137 shark attacks in the US, and according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) records, 73 of those were unprovoked bites or attacks.
To further clarify, there are numerous attack types listed in the ISAF reports, but only 39 were classed as provoked attacks. A further 15 incidents were unconfirmed in their origin.
The Rate of People Getting Drowned Is Higher than Getting Bitten by a Shark
As per a study by the International Shark Attack File, you are more likely to die by drowning than be bitten by a shark. To further quantify those statistics, you are 3,820 times more likely to drown than die from a shark bite.
The chances of drowning are 1 in 1,134 compared to the 1 in 4,332,817 odds of being bitten by a shark.
Shockingly, Deaths Due to Selfies Are Higher than Being Eaten by Sharks
In an article published in the NY Post, more people have died while taking a selfie in recent years than from shark attacks.
Between 2011 and 2017, 259 people died while taking a selfie, as opposed just to just 50 shark-related deaths in the same time span.
Board sports and surfing are involved in 51% of shark attacks
In a report published by the ISAF, more than half of all reported shark attacks are a direct result of board sports and surfing. The article specifies that surface recreationalists lead the way by being involved in 51% of shark attacks.
Shark Attacks Are Highest in the Month of September
The ISAF is the only known repository for shark altercation statistics. According to their research, the most active month for shark attacks is September. The data relates to shark attacks in Florida, which is the most active location in the US for shark bites.
Stats Show Several Factors, Including Climate Change, Are Involved in Shark Attacks
A BBC report concludes that a rise in the rate of shark attacks on humans is related to a number of different factors. As unprovoked bites worldwide seem to be on the increase, the reasoning behind it is linked to multiple environmental factors.
Climate change is altering water temperatures worldwide, and as a result, sharks’ habitats and shark attack migration paths are growing. In addition, conservation efforts are seeing seal and other shark prey populations increase, and thus lure even more sharks into coastal waters.
There Are Three Types of Shark Attacks
The ISAF curator, George Burgess documented that there are three different types of shark attacks. These were examined in detail by Wildlife Online.
- The three types of shark bites are:
- Hit and Run attack: Often unseen, a shark will attack quickly, take a bite and disappear. A hit-and-run attack is the most common shark interaction.
- Bump and bite attack: The bump and bite is most commonly related to feeding. These are most often severe or fatal attacks. Sharks bump their prey before circling back for multiple attacks.
- Sneak attack: Sneak attacks are a combination of the above. They occur without warning and often result in multiple bites.
Shark Attack Statistics in the US
Below are three shark attack statistics for the US.
The Highest Number of Unprovoked Shark Attacks Occur in the US
Shark attack data for 2021 confirms that the US is the geographical home for shark bites. As reported in UPI, 64% of all shark bites in 2021 occurred in the United States.
Within those statistics, Florida accounts for 60% of that figure. Incidentally, Flordia accounts for 38% of unprovoked bits worldwide.
In 2021, Hawaii Recorded Six Shark Attacks, While California Recorded Three Attacks
The NY Post published an article that confirmed 2021 was the first year in several years that saw a dramatic increase in the number of unprovoked human-shark interactions.
A total of 73 attacks were reported in 2021. This was an increase from 52 in 2020. Within those attacks, Hawaii recorded 6 attacks and California 3.
A Fatal Shark Attack Occurred in Massachusetts for the First Time Since 1936
As reported in EcoWatch, 2018 saw the first fatal shark bite recorded in Massachusetts in 82 years. Before the attack on the 15th of September 2018, the most recent fatal attack was recorded in 1936.
Many believe the surging population of seals on the coast have beckoned greater numbers of Great White sharks to the area.
Florida Shark Attack Statistics
Below are five incredible Florida shark attack statistics.
28 Cases in Florida Represent 60% of the US Total Shark Attacks (Florida Museum)
As reported by CBS News, based on the data from the ISAF, Florida was home to 60% of the total shark attacks in the US during 2021.
Out of 73 global unprovoked shark bites, the US accounted for 47, and Flordia specifically recorded 28 of those attacks.
38% of the Unprovoked Shark Bits Worldwide Occur in Florida
The same source data can be used to determine that not only is Florida responsible for 60% of unprovoked shark bites across the US but for over a third (38%) of unprovoked bites worldwide.
Volusia County in Florida Had the Highest Number of Shark Bites (17), Representing 63% of the State’s Total (Florida Museum)
A study reported in Newsweek examined the total number of unprovoked shark bites in Florida to determine that Volusia county is the hotbed of Floridian shark activity accounting for 63% of all Florida’s attacks.
In particular, New Smyrna Beach has seen 303 attacks since 1882.
The Remaining Shark Bites Occurred in Brevard (2), Miami-dade (2), and St. Lucie (2) (Florida Museum)
The same information which was supplied by the ISAF confirmed that three other Flordia beaches reported multiple shark attacks during the year: Brevard, Miami-Dade, and St. Lucie.
The rate of attack in 2021 was a significant increase on 2020 levels, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, those results paint a misleading picture.
Most Shark Attacks Worldwide Statistics
Below are five viewpoints on the most shark attacks worldwide statistics.
The Number of Highest Unprovoked Shark Attacks Are in the US
According to data from the ISAF, the US has the highest rate of unprovoked bites in the world, and within that, Florida accounts for 60% of all US-based shark bites.
Florida reported 259 bites during the last decade, which is almost double that of Australia (143), which is the country with the second most shark attacks.
In the US, after Florida, Hawaii has reported the second most attacks, with 76 reported incidents in the last ten years.
The Second Place with the Highest Number of Shark Attacks after the US Is Australia
An attack map published by SurferToday confirmed that after the US, Australia is the second most active country for shark attacks.
However, while it may rank second for activity, Australia is the number one country for fatal attacks.
From 1931 to 2021, Brazil Had 107 Shark Attacks
Research collected in the International Shark Attack File confirms that between 1931 and 2021, Brazil saw 107 total shark attacks.
Out of those 107 incidents, 61 of them occurred off the coast of the state of Pernambuco.
One of the Most Dangerous Shark Beaches in the World Is Gansbaai
Sharks are found in seas and coeans the world over, and despite the record number of attacks and incidents in the US and Australia, one of the most heavily shark-infested waters of the world are off the South African coast.
Getaway reports that Gansbaai sees anywhere between 5 and 10 shark attacks per year. Sharks have become one of the key tourist attractions in the area.
In 2019, 2 Fatal Shark Attacks Occurred in the Bahama Islands and Reunion Island
According to data gathered and published by the ISAF at the Florida Museum of Natural History, 2019 saw a drop in the total number of shark-related incidents. Only 64 unprovoked bites were reported.
However, two particular bites proved fatal – one in the Bahamas and one on Reunion Island. Interestingly, this also represented a 50% decrease compared to the average.
Shark Attack Statistics by Species
Below are seven fascinating shark attack statistics by species.
There Are More than 500 Shark Species, among Which Only 5% Are Involved in Attacks on Humans (Florida Museum of Natural History)
Between sharks and rays, there are approximately 1000 different species on the planet, yet according to statistics from the Florida Museum of Natural History, only 34 have ever been involved in unprovoked bites on humans.
This means that only between 3 and 5 % of shark species have ever attacked a human.
Stats Reveal That Great White Sharks Are Mostly Involved in Attacks on Humans (Thoughtco)
According to the DutchSharkSociety, the Great White is the most dangerous shark to humans. While the chance of being attacked by a Great White is still very small, they hold the record for being the most commonly reported perpetrator of shark-on-human attacks.
The Great White has been responsible for a record 52 human fatal bites over the centuries. They have also been involved in a staggering 326 unprovoked shark bites.
The Bite Force of a Great White Shark Is More than 4,000 Psi
According to Sharksider, the great white shark has a bite force of 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi).
To add some perspective, the force of a Great White shark bite is approximately 10 times more than a lion!
The Second Most Dangerous Sharks in the World Are Tiger Sharks
While Great White sharks are regarded as the most aggressive ocean predator, they are followed close behind by the Tiger shark.
Tiger sharks are, according to the ISAF, unagressive and often docile sharks, however, are still second in the number of human attacks and fatalities. Tiger sharks have been involved in 103 unprovoked attacks and caused 39 fatalities.
Stats Show the Incidence of Bull Sharks Attacks Is Highest in Shallow Waters
Bull sharks are clever creatures, that can move from freshwater to saltwater without issue. As a result, they often move into shallow rivers and bodies of water. This brings the bull shark into close contact with humans.
According to WeLoveSharks, Bull sharks are also naturally inquisitive and use their mouth as a way of exploring and investigating.
Hammered Shark Attacks on Humans Didn’t Cause Any Casualties
According to an article in NewsWeek, Hammerhead sharks have not been the cause of human fatality for over 120 years.
While the Hammerhead is the most recognizable of all shark species, it is highly placid. There have been just 16 incidents involving people, and none of them have been fatal.
The Biggest Shark in the World Is the Whale Shark
The largest shark in the world is the Whale shark. However, as confirmed by Oceana.org, despite being the largest living fish, the whale shark is utterly harmless. One of three filter-feeding sharks, Whale sharks pose no threat to humans.
Interestingly, the spotted pattern on a Whale shark’s hide is as unique as a human fingerprint.
How Many Sharks Are Killed by Humans Statistics
Below are five eye-opening statistics on how many sharks are killed by humans.
Globally, There Are More Than 100 Million Shark Deaths
While sharks kill around 10 people a year, humans are responsible for killing over 100 million sharks. According to American Oceans, approximately 7% of all shark species are killed each year.
To further quantify that, there are approximately 11,000 sharks killed every hour!
1.3 to 2.7 million sharks are killed to fulfill the fin soup demand (Smithsonian Ocean)
In a piece published by the Smithsonian Ocean, it was reported that anywhere between 1.3 and 2.7 million sharks are killed every year for their fins.
In shark finning, sharks are caught, their finds are removed, and the shark is returned to the ocean, alive, and left behind to drown.
Overfishing Has Dropped the Level of Sharks by 60-70% (Smithsonian Ocean)
Research released in 2021 and published on Maritime Executive confirms that wild shark populations have dropped by 71% since 1970. The main reason behind this is the continued expansion of commercial fishing zones.
Overfishing of the oceans has seen a vast reduction in the amount of food available for most sharks. The follow-on from this is more sharks are dying, which, coupled with the relatively slow reproduction rate, means there are fewer sharks swimming in our oceans.
Ten Critically Endangered Gray Nurse Sharks Were Killed in the Nets in New South Wales from 2017-2018
As part of a shark deterrent system, nets were used around beaches in New South Wales with a focus on catching rogue tiger or white sharks, which pose the greatest risk to humans.
However, according to research and an article in the Guardian, between 2017 and 2018, the nets caught and killed 6 critically endangered gray nurse sharks.
Between 1950 to 2008, 577 Great White Sharks And 353 Tiger Sharks Were Killed in Nets
Shark attack mitigation nets in New South Wales, Australia, have caused the deaths of almost 1000 sharks between 1950 and 2008. These deaths were not the goal of the nets, but an unfortunate consequence of them.
As discussed on Taronga.org, there are better and more humane ways to limit interactions between humans and sharks. Especially when you consider that there were over 15,000 other marine animals also killed in the same nets during that time.
How Many Shark Attacks Per Year?
As reported in the Guardian, there were 73 unprovoked bites reported in 2021. This was a rise from the previous few years. However, those figures are distorted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which kept people away from their usual water activities.
Below are eight frequently asked questions relating to and surrounding shark attacks.
Are Sharks Vital for the Health of the Planet?
Yes, sharks are vital for maintaining a healthy balance in the oceanic ecosystem. For example, sharks are apex predators and, as such, instill fear in other creatures, and their presence is enough to drive certain sea creatures into hiding. This protects vital expanses of ocean ground.
Also, being at the top of the food chain, sharks maintain a degree of essential control over the animals beneath them.
Sharks are also opportunistic predators. They will attack weak or sick animals, as they offer an easy victory. This inadvertently creates a natural level of disease protection in the ocean.
What Is the Likelihood of Being Attacked by a Shark?
The odds of being killed or even attacked by a shark are a staggering 1 in 3 billion. That equates to a less than 0.000026% chance. You are 1500 times more likely to be attacked by a bear than a shark.
Do Shark Attacks in 3 Feet of Water?
Yes, some shark attacks happen in just three feet of water. This fact was blown out of proportion thanks to a line in the famous movie Jaws.
While it is possible for sharks to attack at such shallow depths, the majority of attacks occur at depths of between 30 and 40 feet for divers and six to ten feet for swimmers.
Which Beach Has the Highest Number of Shark Attacks?
New Smyrna Beach in Florida has the highest number of shark attacks recorded in history. Since 1882 the beach has seen 303 unprovoked attacks. Unprovoked attacks mean instances where the humans did nothing to antagonize or interact with the sharks.
A prevailing theory behind this is that the waters are exceptionally murky on that stretch of coastline.
What Are Sharks Attracted To?
Sharks are attracted to sound. Many shark attacks are a result of sharks being attracted to the splashing and crashing sounds simmers make in the water. There is very little to suggest that sharks hunt humans as prey.
Sharks are attracted to the noise and, secondly, the movements in the water. Many attacks are a result of a shark’s inquisitive nature rather than a direct predatory instinct.
What Is the Smell Range of Sharks?
A shark’s sense of smell is more a matter of concentration levels than distance. While a great white shark can catch a scent from close to 2 miles away, a real quantitative measure is on the scent concentration in parts per million.
Many sharks’ sense of smell is so intense they can detect their prey with as little as a 1 in 10 billion DNA concentration.
What Measures to Take If a Shark Is Nearby?
The key measure to take if a shark is nearby is to relax! Sharks are curious creatures. If you remain calm and avoid the understandable tendency to panic and thrash in the waters, you stand a much better chance of escaping unscathed.
Should Humans Be Afraid of Sharks?
No, humans should not be afraid of sharks. Cautious? Yes. Wary? Yes. However, sharks do not prey on humans. While sharks are unquestionably the apex predators in the sea, there is no need for fearmongering when it comes to sharks.
A fact notably documented in the post-Jaws life of Peter Benchley.
Sharks are an often misunderstood species that are viewed as nothing more than cold-blooded killers. Yes, sharks are effective eating machines, but they are so much more than that.
The above shark statistics show that the risk they pose is nothing compared to the risk we pose to them. As a long-time lover of sharks, I am all in favor of helping educate people to better understand these amazing creatures.
Have you ever encountered a shark in the wild? How did it happen, what did you take away from your experience? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!