Shark attack statistics are every ocean swimmer’s worst nightmare. We’ve all seen the movies and know how bad these attacks can be, but what are the chances of experiencing a shark attack?

To help you understand that, we’ve compiled all the must-know info, including where the attacks occur most, our effect on sharks, and what you can do to avoid an attack.

So, let’s dive right in (pun intended).

Little Known Shark Attack Statistics

  • In 2020, the Florida Museum recorded 57 unprovoked shark attacks and 39 provoked ones.
  • Since 2013, 2020 was the deadliest year for shark attacks.
  • If you visit the beach, you have a 1 in 11.5 million chance of a shark attack. 
  • While sharks kill six humans a year on average, we kill over 100 million sharks. 
  • 61% of attacks are on surfers and other boarding sportspeople.
  • In the last decade, California has had 1.8 shark attacks per year.
  • Between 1960–2020, 2015 saw the highest number of recorded shark attacks — 98.
  • Florida shark attacks are the highest at 28% of the worldwide total.

Shark Attack Stats

Most of us have seen Jaws. It spreads fear even among the bravest people. But experiencing a shark attack is not as likely as you might think.

1. 2020 Was the Deadliest Year for Shark Attacks Since 2013 With 13 Deaths.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History)

  • Surprisingly, the unprovoked attacks in 2020 were only 57, with the usual yearly average being around 80. 
  • There were 39 provoked attacks in 2020. “Provoked” here means that the person initiated contact with the shark. 
  • The 33 remaining incidents fell into categories like unsolved and doubtful. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, police and medical professionals couldn’t offer as much input in reports. 

While the chances are meager, you must be wondering who’s most likely to add to the shark bite statistics?

2. 61% of Attacks Are on Surfers and Other Boarding Sports People.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History)

  • Coming in second with 26% are swimmers and waddlers. 
  • There’s a massive gap here, with only 4% of snorkelers and free-divers experiencing an attack. 
  • Surprisingly, only 4% of attacks are on scuba divers. 

Worldwide shark attack statistics by year give some pretty interesting information about how and when sharks attack.

3. Between 1960–2020, 2015 Saw the Highest Recorded Shark Attacks — 98.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History)

  • The rise in shark attacks is attributed to the number of beachgoers that has steadily increased. Between 1994–2000, Florida’s beaches went from 11.5 million attendees to 13.5 million.
  • If we look at stats by decades, between 1980–1989, there were a mere 226 unprovoked attacks. Whereas between 2010–2019, the number is 799.
  • Shark attacks more than doubled in the 20 years between 1980–1999. They went from 226 to 500 unprovoked attacks. 

The US has remained the number one spot for shark attacks since 2011

Three sharks swimming in blue water with sunlight from above

US Shark Attack Statistics

The US also has the highest number of annual shark attacks. And one state is responsible for the most. 

4. Florida Shark Attack Statistics Are the Highest — 28% of the Worldwide Total.

(Source: The Mercury News)

  • 33 out of the total 57 unprovoked attacks happened in the US alone, with 16 in Florida.
  • 50% of Florida’s total attacks occurred in Volusia County. It reported eight shark attacks in 2020.
  • Coming in second are the Cocoa Beach shark attack statistics, with three shark attacks in 2020. 

But the state isn’t alone. Here are some California shark attack statistics.

5. In the Last Decade, California Has Had 1.8 Shark Attacks per Year.

(Source: California Academy of Science) 

  • Shark attacks in California are most common in September and October
  • 97% of California attacks came from a white shark. 
  • San Diego has the highest number of shark attacks between 1926–2021, with 20 unprovoked attacks. 

But let’s check an area surrounded by water. Here are some Hawaii shark attack statistics. 

6. Between 1995–2021, Maui Had 40 Nonfatal Bites and 5 Fatal Shark Attacks.

(Source: Maui News) 

  • This puts Maui at the top of the Hawaiian islands with shark attacks. In the same period, Oahu had just above 20 nonfatal bites.
  • Hawaii Island is third with 15 nonfatal bites between 1995–2021.
  • Makena Point in Maui has the highest number of shark sightings in Hawaii. 

For all the surfers dreaming of going abroad, here’s where you need to pay attention. 

Shark Attack Statistics Worldwide

While the US has the most shark attacks worldwide, that’s due to its sheer size and coastline. But it doesn’t mean it’s the only risky country.

7. In 2020, Australia Had the Second-Most Unprovoked Attacks —18.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History)

  • New South Wales was hit the worst with eighth bites. Two of these were fatal.
  • Queensland had only three attacks, but two were fatal. 
  • From there, the numbers decrease dramatically. Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Thailand are places that only experienced one unprovoked attack. 

Let’s have a look at the shark attack statistics from South Africa. 

8. South Africa Is Home to One of the Deadliest Beaches Worldwide. 

(Source: Owlcation)

  • Port St. Johns in the Eastern Cape has some of the most deadly waters. Between 1905–2021, there were 107 unprovoked attacks.
  • Between 2007–2017, seven fatal attacks occurred at this one spot in South Africa. Most were bites from Bull sharks since they can swim in shallow water. Plus, the area is infamous for its sandbanks that go far into the ocean.
  • According to shark attack statistics in 2021, between 1905–2021, the Western Cape had 55 unprovoked attacks. Growing up here, I know that our surfers’ worst nightmare is meeting a Great White face to face and being stuck. 

Unfortunately, because the Western Cape has so many white sharks, there’s a high death toll. The Great White is notorious for killing its victims. By now, you might think it’s all about location, but does the shark species matter, too?

Grey and white shark up close looking directly at you

Shark Attack Statistics by Species

There are millions of sharks globally, and surprisingly, most aren’t dangerous to us. But the ones that are can be fierce. So let’s have a better look at the difference in species and shark attack statistics.

9. The Great White Is the Deadliest Shark, with 52 Deaths.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History) 

  • Great White shark attack statistics show the species is responsible for 290 nonfatal attacks.
  • The Great White has over 3,000 teeth. The lower and upper jaw work in sequence, ensuring the prey has nowhere to go. It all happens in less than a second.
  • The bite force of the Great White is twice as strong as a lion’s. It’s as much as one ton per square inch.

While this species is fierce, it’s not alone. Let’s look at some other sharks.

 10. Tiger Shark Attack Statistics Show It’s the Second Deadliest.

(Souce: NY Post) 

  • The Tiger shark is responsible for 34 human deaths and 97 unprovoked attacks. They can eat just about anything — turtles, squid, dolphins, and fish. 
  • Third on the list is the Bull shark attack statistics. They show that the species caused 25 deaths and 92 unprovoked attacks.
  • One of the not-so-well-known sharks comes in fourth. Blue shark attack statistics report that the species has killed four people and attacked nine.

After all of this, it might surprise you to find out how many sharks we kill each year. 

They aren’t as cute as toys for dogs like the Frisco Summer Fun Plush Shark Dog Toy. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about what happens to them. 

Shark Death Statistics

As monstrous as we portray sharks, we’re our own worst enemy and a much bigger threat to sharks. 

11. Sharks Kill Six Humans a Year on Average, and We Kill Over 100 Million Sharks.

(Source: USA Today)

  • Shark fins are some of the most expensive in the world, averaging $500 a pound. 
  • The fin is cut off, and the shark remains are thrown back into the ocean, where they bleed out very slowly. Hammerheads are particularly targeted, and most of the species are critically endangered
  • Bull and Hammerhead shark attack statistics show populations have decreased by 99%.

As you can see, humans are overfishing these defenseless animals. 

 12. 8,000 Tons of Shark Fins Are Shipped to Restaurants Every Year.

(Source: Stop Shark Finning) 

  • The most frustrating part is that this delicacy has no taste at all. It’s just a symbol of wealth, costing about $100 a bowl.
  • Since 1972, Tiger shark populations have decreased by 97%.
  • It’s not just fishing that kills sharks. The changing environment is forcing them out of their natural habitats and into human-populated areas. It’s the same for dolphins. The 2011 heat wave decreased dolphin survival rates by 12%.

We could have sharkless waters pretty soon. And we’re talking about a sea creature that’s been around for 100 million years. 

Brown shark just under the surface of the water with a fishing line hooked into it's back

Shark Attack Statistics Compared to Other Deaths

To show you how small your chances of a shark attack are, let’s explore how much more deadly day-to-day activities can be. 

13. You Only Have a 1 in 11.5 Million Chance of a Shark Attack.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History)

  • In comparison, you have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite.
  • You also have a 1 in 5 chance of getting and dying from heart disease. It’s the leading cause of death.
  • We all know how bad the flu can be, but did you know there’s a 1 in 63 chance of dying from it?

But that’s not all. Let’s have a look at more comparisons with shark attack statistics.

 14. One in 84 People Die in Car Accidents.

(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History)

  • Besides, you have a 1 in 79,746 chance of a lightning strike killing you. 
  • A train accident might happen in a 1 in 156,169 chance.
  • There’s over an 11 million in 1 chance of a shark attacking you. In contrast, fireworks kill 1 in 340,733.

You have a higher chance of dying from getting into your vehicle with a bunch of fireworks or being hit by a train all in one day, than from a shark attack. But let’s see what you can do to ensure it’ll never happen.

How To Avoid US Shark Attacks in 2021  

Here’s what you can do to keep your chances of coming face to face with a shark as low as possible:

  • Don’t swim at night or when visibility is bad.
  • Avoid heavily fished areas or places near a fishing boat.
  • Always swim with someone, don’t go out by yourself.
  • Don’t wear shiny jewelry.
  • If you do encounter a shark, move in a vertical position.
  • If the shark is close enough, try punching it in the nose. 

Wrap Up

Shark attack statistics can be scary even to the bravest beachgoers. But you can see how slim your chances of experiencing a shark attack truly are.

There’s only a 1 in 11.5 million chance of being attacked by a shark in your lifetime. 

So, don’t stress too much about it. 

The ocean is one of the most amazing treats on the planet. That’s why we all need to work together in keeping it clean and livable for its inhabitants and us.

FAQ

Why do sharks attack surfers?

Sharks don’t hunt for human flesh. Plus, we’re nowhere near fat enough, no matter how much fast food we eat. Seals have very fatty meat, so they’re the number one shark dinner target. Unfortunately, the shape of a board with limbs hanging off the side looks very similar to a seal

Where do most shark attacks happen? 

Shark attacks usually happen within 100 feet of shore. That’s where their primary sources of food are. But some attacks happen out in the deep waters with divers and smaller boats. Still, you’re more likely to come into contact with a Bull shark close to shore. 

How many shark attacks per year?

In 2020, there were 129 shark attacks in total. This includes human, boat, and unconfirmed attacks. But, if we’re just looking at human fatalities, the average from a shark attack is around six per year. In 2020, shark attack statistics show that the unprovoked attacks were 59 and the provoked — 39.

  1. Florida Museum of Natural History
  2. Florida Museum of Natural History
  3. The Mercury News
  4. California Academy of Science
  5. Maui News
  6. Owlcation
  7. Florida Museum of Natural History
  8. NY Post
  9. USA Today
  10.  Stop Shark Finning
  11.  Florida Museum of Natural History
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Emma is a lover of all animals. Her cat Pumpkin enjoys stretching out in the office while mom researches the best information on how to care for their fellow furry friends. Emma’s passion for animals started at a young age. Back then, she dedicated her time to shelters and vet clinics in South Africa. Her enthusiasm for writing and research is behind the most reliable information for pet lovers. She believes in treating animals with the devotion and respect they deserve.