Shark Attack Statistics: How Many People Die Each Year?

Last Updated on April, 2024

’47 years, 1232 shark attacks, 14% resulted in fatalities’

‘Hawaii, second to Florida, had 76 shark incidents, including three fatalities.’

Have you ever WORRIED about this kind of shark attack?

Yes! What you heard is correct. Shark attacks can be severe, even deadly.

Knowing the details is essential, especially if you’re into sea adventures. I’ve covered the most important stats for you.

Continue reading.

Quick Summary

Shark attacks are relatively rare and often occur in the surf zone or between sandbars where sharks feed.

The most dangerous shark species to humans are the Great White Shark, Tiger Shark, and Bull Shark.

Avoid swimming in the ocean during early morning or evening when sharks are most active, stick together in groups, and avoid wearing shiny jewelry to decrease the likelihood of a shark attack. Below, you can find statistics related to shark attacks, which you can explore to gain more knowledge.

Shark Attack Facts

A shark with its mouth open in the ocean
  • Shark bites are relatively rare, with an average number of 80 unprovoked shark bites worldwide annually.
  • While shark attacks occur, shark-related fatalities are infrequent, averaging around 10 per year globally.
  • Many shark bites result from mistaken identity, as they do not typically target humans.
  • Some attacks result from human provocation, such as harassment or attempts to touch the sharks.
  • The Great White Shark, Tiger Shark, and Bull Shark are responsible for most serious unprovoked bites worldwide.
  • Despite the rarity, fatal attacks involve severe injuries, typically from bites on the limbs or torso.

Global Shark Attack Statistics

United States With Highest Unprovoked Shark Bites

According to information from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the highest number of unprovoked shark bites occur in the United States.

‘Unprovoked bites’ refer to situations where a shark bites a person in the shark’s natural habitat without provocation from the human.

‘Provoked bites’ happens when a human initiates interaction with a shark somehow.

Specifically, Florida makes up 39% of all unprovoked bites in the United States. ISAF confirmed that these Florida counties reported shark attacks during 2022: Monroe, Martin, Nassau, Pinellas, Brevard, and Palm Beach counties.

Over the past ten years, Florida reported 259 bites, which is nearly twice as many as Australia, the second-highest number of shark attacks with 143. (1, 2)

In the United States, following Florida, Hawaii has the second highest number of attacks, with 76 incidents reported in the past decade, including three fatal shark attacks. (3)

Another critical point to mention is that unprovoked bites are gradually on the rise in South Carolina. There have been 45 reported bites in the last ten years. (2012-2021)(4)

a stat showing of  highest attack rates in united states

California Coastline

In 2021, California had three shark attacks, and unfortunately, one of them was deadly. Since 1837, a total number of 132 unprovoked shark bites have been documented in the state. (5)

a stat of confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks 1926 Present

The Red Triangle, located along the northern shore, is known for a higher risk of shark encounters.

highest attack rates in with corresponding states in US

This area spans about 90 miles of coastline from Point Reyes to Monterey Bay, meeting west of San Francisco near the Farallon Islands. The water here is rich with seals and the Great White Shark.

California ranks third in the U.S. for unprovoked shark bites, with Florida and Hawaii having more attacks. (6)

Notable locations with shark incidents include Solana Beach in San Diego County, and most sharks are often spotted near Santa Monica and the Santa Barbara coast close to Los Angeles.

Australia With Second Highest Shark Attacks After the U.S.

After the United States, Australia holds the second spot for the most attacks, according to the ISAF.

A map published by ISAF confirmed this. Even though Australia is second in the number of bites, it is the country where 20 Shark-related fatalities have happened the most since 2012-2021. (7)

a stat of confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks 1700 Present in australia

Gansbaai: One of the Most Dangerous Beaches in the World

Even though there are other places globally to spot White Sharks, Gansbaai stands out because of its location.

The meeting point of currents from the Atlantic and Indian oceans brings in a lot of natural prey, making Shark Alley likely to have the highest concentration of them worldwide.

Gansbaai experiences about 5-10 attacks each year. Interestingly, sharks have become a major attraction for tourists in this area.

Two Deadly Shark Attacks Happened in the Bahama Islands and Reunion Island

The ISAF collected data showed a decrease in overall incidents for 2019. There were 64 reported unprovoked shark attacks.

Surprisingly, two of these bites resulted in fatalities – one in the Bahamas and another in Reunion Island. It’s worth noting that this marked a 50% reduction compared to the usual average.

Data from the ISAF reveals that from 1931 to the present, Brazil experienced 111 attacks. Among these, 62 incidents took place along the coast of the state of Pernambuco.

a stat of Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks 1931 Present in brazil

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, is the eastern part of the world’s largest tropical island. Since 1848, there have been 48 recorded provoked and unprovoked bites in Papua New Guinea.

It’s unclear whether these attacks involve divers and other visitors or are linked to the local tradition of shark fishing. In some areas, like the province of New Ireland, people still practice shark calling—an ancient technique.

Shark callers believe they can communicate with shark spirits through rituals and music. When it responds, the caller uses tools to bring it close to the boat, and then it’s shared as a meal for everyone.

How Many Shark Attacks Worldwide in the Last 50 Years: Statistics on Attacks on Human

Note: Keep children AWAY from large dogs and other dangerous animals!

In the last 47 years, there have been 1232 cases of shark attacks around the world. Surprisingly, about 14% of these instances resulted in the person dying. (8)

Most bites are unprovoked shark bites with no provocation from the people.

Only a small number of the remaining bites, about 6%, occurred because people did something to provoke the sharks. On average, around ten people worldwide die from shark attacks each year.

These numbers show how important it is to understand and deal with both situations where shark attacks happen. This helps make being in the ocean safer for everyone.

Shark Behavior and Species Analysis

The Most Dangerous Shark Species and Their Characteristics

Out of over 500 species and around 1,000 species and rays combined, only 30 have been known to be involved in unprovoked attacks on humans, as reported by the Florida Museum.

This implies that only about 3 to 5% of all types have been responsible for biting humans.

Great White Sharks Are Dangerous Sharks to Humans

a stat of 17% of unprovoked attacks by these sharks have been fatal since records began in 1580

Statistics from the Florida Museum show that Great White Sharks, also known as White Sharks, are frequently involved in human attacks.

Despite their reputation as dangerous man-eaters, only 57 provoked bites and unprovoked bites worldwide were recorded across all species in 2022.

Pinpoint: The vast majority of encounters involve more sharks peacefully coexisting with humans in their shared environments.

These sharks, along with Bull and Tiger, are among the top three species most likely to injure humans. However, fewer than 17% of unprovoked attacks by these Sharks have been fatal since records began in 1580.

Whites have a bite force of 4,000 psi, about ten times stronger than a lion’s bite. Surprisingly, there are more survivors than fatalities, and scientists are unsure why great whites often spit humans out after a ‘sample bite.

Tiger Sharks Are the Second Most Dangerous in the World

These sharks are considered DANGEROUS as they are among the shark types most likely to attack humans without provocation.

They are part of the ‘Big Three’ aggressive species and White and Bull Sharks. Out of 111 reported Tiger Shark attacks, 31 were fatal.

These are considered dangerous for several factors:

  • They inhabit waters where humans swim, increasing the likelihood of encounters.
  • They are large and robust, capable of overpowering a person in the water.
  • Their teeth are designed for sharing food, causing devastating damage.

These sharks, measuring 3 to 4 meters on average and weighing around 500kg, are one of the largest species. They are usually found in temperate and tropical oceans and often hunt alone at night.

Bull Shark Attacks is Highest in Shallow Waters

These intelligent animals can quickly move between freshwater and saltwater. They often swim into shallow rivers and bodies of water, bringing them close to humans.

According to the NWF, they are naturally curious and use their mouths to explore. You can identify them by their stout appearance and high width-to-length ratio.

Like many fish, they have countershading, which means they’re dark on top and light on the bottom, helping them blend into their surroundings.

A bull shark is swimming inside deep water

Male Bull Sharks grow to about seven feet, and females can reach 11 feet or more. They usually weigh between 200 and 500 pounds.

The Whale Shark is the Biggest Shark in the World

The whale shark is the largest shark globally, as per Oceana.org. Despite its enormous size, it’s completely harmless.

Whale sharks are one of three filter-feeding sharks and don’t harm humans. What’s fascinating is that the spotted pattern on a Whale shark’s skin is as unique as a human fingerprint.

Understanding Shark Attacks

Why and When Do Sharks Attack People?

Historically, shark attacks have been more deadly, but improved emergency services and medical treatment have reduced mortality rates.

The rise in shark attacks each decade is likely due to more people in the water, but the per capita rate of attack remains stable.

Sharks attack in nearshore water, typically in the surf zone or between sandbars where they feed. Steep drop-offs are likely to dive sites, as sharks congregate in these areas where their natural food items gather.

‘Hit and run’ attacks are the most common and often occur in the surf zone, targeting swimmers and surfers.

Though less common, ‘Bump and bite’ and ‘sneak’ attacks result in more significant injuries and are more likely to involve divers or swimmers in deeper waters.

How Do Sharks Attack People?

Hit and Run Attack

These attacks occur in the surf zone, where the victim rarely sees the shark, and the shark doesn’t return after a single bite.

Cases of mistaken identity likely happen in poor water visibility and harsh conditions. Injuries are usually minor lacerations, often on the leg below the knee.

Bump and Bite / Sneak Attack

These attacks are less common but more severe and involve circling, bumping, and biting. ‘Bump and bite’ attacks often occur in deeper waters and can result in repeat attacks, while ‘sneak’ attacks happen without warning.

Injuries are severe, sometimes leading to fatalities.The attacking sharks, such as the White, Bull, and Tiger Sharks, are larger species, roughly two meters or longer, known for consuming natural prey items.

Other species, like the blacktip, may be involved in ‘hit and run’ cases.

The Best Time to Go for a Swim in the Sea

A man is swimming in the ocean with his goggles on

The BEST time to go for a swim in the sea is on Tuesday mornings at dawn in February. (fewer sharks, fewer attacks!)

Overall, shark numbers in the world’s oceans have decreased, possibly causing recent decreases in incidents, as Gavin Naylor, a shark researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History, explains.

He mentioned that fatalities might be lower because certain places, especially in Australia, have recently adopted STRICT safety measures at beaches.

Pinpoint: According to Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, swimming or surfing in areas with unclear water and where seals or sea lions are present increases the chances of a shark bite.

Shark Attack Prevention and Safety Measures

Tips for Avoid Being Attacked By a Shark

  • Stick together in groups near the shore because sharks are less likely to go after people in groups.
  • Avoid going into the ocean early in the morning or evening when sharks are most active.
  • Be cautious in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, as sharks frequent these spots.
  • While sharks aren’t attracted to human blood, staying out of the water is wise if bleeding.
  • Discourage wearing shiny jewelry, as it may resemble fish scales and attract sharks.
  • The presence of Porpoises or Dolphins doesn’t guarantee the absence of sharks, as they share food sources.
  • Be careful in cloudy or murky waters because some species may have difficulty seeing clearly.

Shark Attack-Emergency Response and Self-Defense Strategies

  • Defend yourself – pretending to be lifeless is ineffective.
  • Utilize available tools (surfboard, dive gear, fishing equipment) instead of bare hands to ward off the shark.
  • If using hands, focus on attacking the eyes, nose, and gills.
  • Make abrupt movements to frighten the shark.

Symptoms and Immediate Actions After a Shark Bite

Stop the bleeding by applying pressure before leaving the water. Exit the water quickly and calmly. Regardless of the bite’s size, seek immediate medical attention after being attacked by a shark.

Treatment for shark bite:

  • Get the person out of the water safely.
  • Clean the wound with soap and water for minor bites (small cuts or abrasions).
  • For major bites:
  • Apply direct pressure to control bleeding.
  • Keep the person warm and treat for shock.
  • Elevate the feet about 12 inches.
  • Turn on the side if vomiting or bleeding from the mouth.
  • If needed, start CPR if breathing is weak or absent.
  • Address obvious injuries.
  • Keep the person warm, comfortable, and still.
  • Loosen tight clothing and remove rings and watches.
  • Reassure the patient.
  • Do not give any food or drink.

Interesting topics:

Conclusion

My stats helped you make informed decisions for a safer underwater experience. 

Research more about ocean safety. I mean, RESEARCH to understand the reality behind the headlines.

Don’t let fear STOP your passion for the sea.

Stay informed. Stay safe!

FAQs

Globally, shark attacks are relatively rare and uncommon with an average of 80 to 100 incidents reported per year, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). Additionally, the majority of these attacks do not result in fatalities.

The U.S., Australia, South Africa, and Brazil are the regions with the highest number of shark attacks. Humans and sharks frequently share the same water in these areas.

The majority of shark attacks are attributed to a few specific species, namely the White, Bull, and Tiger Sharks. These species are usually found in coastal areas and are more prone to encountering humans.”

According to studies, globally there is not a significant increase in shark bites. However, media perceptions may be misleading. Some studies show stable trends, while increases may be due to higher human activity in coastal areas and better reporting of incidents. Overall, the risk of shark bites remains low.

The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) is a database used by experts to document shark attacks worldwide. Affiliated with the Florida Museum of Natural History, it provides information on the frequency, locations, and details of shark-human interactions.

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Andrew Marshall
Andrew Marshall is a versatile writer with 2 years of experience writing & contributing for IPetGuides. He is based in US, LA and currently, he has a Rottweiler & a Dachsund dog breed.

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