Shark attacks on humans are rare, with only a few dozen reported each year in the whole world. When they do happen they can be deadly. Some species of sharks are capable of inflicting severe injuries or even death.
The most common type of shark attack is the “hit-and-run” attack. The shark bites and lets go of the swimmer before swimming away. These attacks are usually not fatal, but they can cause significant physical and usually psychological trauma to those involved.
Shark attacks on humans may seem random, but there are certain factors that can increase the risks. Swimming in areas where sharks are known to frequent like near schools of fish/ in murky water could be an issue. This could also be engaging in activities that may attract sharks, such as spearfishing or wearing shiny jewelry.
The majority of shark species are not a threat to humans, and most attacks are because of mistaken identity or territorial behavior.
To minimize the risk of an attack, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Be sure to follow local safety guidelines. Avoid swimming alone, stay close to shore, and avoid areas where sharks are known to be present.
It is also important to remain calm in the event of a shark encounter, sudden movements or panic can cause the shark to attack. Take these precautions and understand the behavior of sharks and you will be fine, it is possible to enjoy ocean activities while minimizing the risk of a shark attack.
Shark Attack Figures and Numbers
- There are over 400 species of sharks, but only about a dozen are known to attack humans.
- In 2022 worldwide there was a total of 57 confirmed unprovoked cases.
- In 2022 the number of attacks has been lower than the most recent five-year (2017-2021).
- On average only 70 shark attack incidents happen annually.
- A provoked shark bite happens when a human initiates interaction with the shark.
- The United States recorded the most unprovoked shark bites in 2022, with 41 cases.
- The great white shark, tiger shark, and bull shark are responsible for most attacks on humans.
- Swimmers and people wading were the majority of incidents at 43%, not surfers.
- The most dangerous time for shark attacks is during the summer months when more people are swimming and surfing.
- The chances of being attacked by a shark are extremely low, with fewer than 100 attacks occurring worldwide each year.
- More people are killed by bees, dogs, and lightning than sharks.
- The vast majority of shark attacks are not fatal.
- In the United States, the state with the most shark attacks is Florida.
- Australia has the highest number of fatal shark attacks in the world.
- South Africa and Brazil are also known for their high number of attacks.
- The chances of being attacked by a shark increases when swimming in murky or turbid water.
- The odds of being attacked by a shark increase when swimming at dawn/ dusk.
- The odds of being attacked by a shark increase when swimming alone.
- The odds of being attacked by a shark increase when wearing shiny jewelry.
- Contrary to popular belief, sharks do not mistake humans for seals. They attack humans because they are curious or feel threatened.
- Sharks can detect blood in the water from miles away, but cares more about fish blood.
- Most shark attacks occur in mid to deep water.
- Surfing and swimming are the activities most commonly associated with shark attacks.
- Most shark attacks occur in warm water due to more people in the water not the actual temperature.
- Shark attacks are more common in males than females.
- More people are injured by jellyfish than by sharks each year.
- The number of shark attacks has been increasing in recent years due to more people engaging in ocean activities.
- The odds of being attacked by a shark increase when swimming near fishing boats.
- Sharks are often portrayed as “mindless killing machines” in the media, but in reality, they are intelligent and curious creatures.
- Sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems by keeping populations of other marine animals in balance.
- Sharks have been around for over 400 million years.
- The smallest species of shark is the dwarf lantern shark, which is only about 8 inches long.
- The largest species of shark is the whale shark, which can grow up to 40 feet long.
- Most shark attacks occur on the legs and feet.
- Surfers are at a higher risk of shark attacks than swimmers because they spend more time in the water and their movements can resemble those of prey animals.
- The term “shark attack” is somewhat misleading, as many incidents classified as such are actually cases of sharks biting humans out of curiosity or defense rather than an intentional attack.
- Despite the perception that sharks are constantly hunting for prey, they actually spend most of their time cruising slowly through the water in search of food.
- Contrary to popular belief, sharks are not immune to all diseases. They can be affected by a variety of illnesses, including cancer.
- Sharks are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain and have few natural enemies.
- Many shark species have a specialized organ called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which allows them to detect electrical impulses in the water. This helps them locate prey and navigate through their environment.
- Some shark species are able to detect the heartbeats of other animals, which can help them locate prey.
- The International Shark Attack File is a database of all reported shark attacks around the world.
- The vast majority of shark species are not dangerous to humans and pose no threat.
- The movie “Jaws” is often credited with sparking widespread fear and panic about sharks, leading to a decrease in their populations due to overfishing and hunting.
- Many shark species are threatened or endangered due to overfishing and habitat loss.
- Despite the risk of shark attacks, millions of people around the world enjoy swimming, surfing, and other ocean activities every year without incident.
- In some parts of the world, people intentionally seek out shark encounters through activities like cage diving or swimming with whale sharks.
- The largest concentration of great white sharks in the world is in the waters around South Africa.
- The chances of being killed by a shark are about 1 in 11.5 million.
- Some shark species, like the lemon shark, are able to tolerate and even thrive in freshwater environments.
- Shark attacks on humans are often the result of mistaken identity, with sharks mistaking swimmers or surfers for their natural prey.
- The best way to avoid a shark attack is to avoid swimming or surfing in areas known for high shark populations and to stay in groups rather than swimming alone.
- If you do encounter a shark, experts recommend remaining calm and slowly backing away, rather than panicking or thrashing around in the water.
- Despite their fearsome reputation, many shark species are actually quite docile and pose little threat to humans.
- The relationship between humans and sharks is complex and multifaceted, with many people fearing and demonizing these creatures while others work to protect and conserve them.
Precautions from Shark Attacks
Here are several precautions you can take to minimize the risk of a shark attack and still enjoy ocean activities like scuba, freediving or snorkeling.
- Swim in designated areas- This is pretty self explanatory but avoid areas where sharks are known to frequent. These areas include areas near schools of fish, near the shore where there are large rocks or reefs, or in murky water.
- Avoid swimming alone- Not always possible but let someone know if you can’t. Swim with a buddy/ group particularly in remote areas.
- Stay close to shore- Sharks tend to be more active in deeper water, so by staying close to shore you can reduce the risk of a shark encounter.
- Avoid wearing shiny things- The reflection of jewelry in the water can attract sharks, so it is best to avoid wearing it while swimming or diving.
- Avoid dawn or dusk- Sharks are most active during these times.
- Follow local safety guidelines- Check websites and look for any posted warning signs or instructions from lifeguards or local officials.
Remember that while shark attacks are rare, it is important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings when swimming or diving in the ocean.
By taking these precautions and following local safety guidelines, you can reduce the risk of a shark encounter and enjoy ocean activities safely.
What to Do in the Case of a Shark Attack
Sadly these things do happen and f you are ever in the unfortunate situation of being attacked by a shark, it is important to know what to do.
Here are some steps and things to take into consideration if this does happen:
- Defend yourself- If the shark is biting you, fight back. Punch kick use a camera, or a nearby object. Aim for the eyes and gills, these are the sensitive areas that may cause the shark to release its grip.
- Get out of the water- Get out of the water as quickly as possible.
- Apply pressure to the wound- If you have been bitten, apply pressure to the wound and seek medical attention.
- Call for help- Logical but often forgotten when in shock. If you are with others, call for help, and alert any nearby authorities.
- Stay calm- It is easier said than done but try to remain as calm as possible. Sudden movements and panic can make it worse.
It is important to note that the chances of surviving a shark attack are greatly increased if you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even small wounds can become infected. Get to a doctor or local hospital.
Remember shark attacks are rare, and most species of sharks are not a threat to humans. Whale sharks for instance are harmless or hammerheads can bite but rarely ever do. By taking precautions to minimize the risk of a shark encounter and knowing what to do in the event of an attack.