Shark Attacks By Country

A great white shark off the coast of South Africa.
A great white shark off the coast of South Africa.

More than 70 shark attacks are reported yearly in various parts of the world. However, experts say that sharks do not intentionally seek people as prey. Swimmers and surfers are the most susceptible groups of people to such attacks which may prove to be fatal. The bull shark, great white, and tiger shark are the species which have caused double digit numbers of unprovoked and fatal attacks on people. The number of shark attacks differs from nation to nation and those with the largest numbers are:

Shark Attacks By Country

The United States

Since 1900, there has been 1,657 unprovoked shark attacks reported in the US. 144 of them have been fatal while 1,513 have been non-fatal. Popular beaches such as those in Hawaii and Florida which get crowded in warm-weather are often hotspots for such attacks. Counties in the US with high numbers of shark attacks include Volusia, Palm Beach, and Brevard Counties in Florida, Honolulu and Maui Counties in Hawaii, and Horry and Charleston Counties in South Carolina. Volusia has earned the name "shark attack capital of the world, " and some of its beaches have high incidents of such attacks such as Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. One of the deadliest shark attack took place in 1945 after the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo. The surviving soldiers floated on the water for four days, during which many succumbed to thirst, heat, and shark attacks. Reports estimate that a dozen to 150 men lost their lives in shark attacks.


Australia has had 904 unprovoked attacks since 1900, and 259 of which have been fatal while 645 were non-fatal. New South Wales has several locations noted as shark attack hotspots in the country. These locations include Bryon Bay, Ballina, and Lennox Head. Sydney is also identified as having multiple shark attacks in areas such as Sydney Harbour, Bondi Beach, and Mona Vale. Other shark attack hotspots in Australia include Cottesloe Beach situated in Western Australia and Newcastle. The multiple attacks over the years have resulted in the introduction of shark nets especially during summer in various beaches across the nation.

South Africa

395 shark attacks have been recorded in South Africa, 96 of which have been fatal and 299 non-fatal. The attacks on KwaZulu-Natal's beaches prompted the use of shark nets to protect swimmers and which reduced the number of attacks in the region. Over 90 shark species have been recorded in the country's territorial waters, and most of South Africa's beaches remain unprotected. Cape town has opted to enlist the services of shark spotters who watch for sharks especially during competitions and subsequently warn surfers and swimmers.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has reported 118 unprovoked shark attacks, 55 of which have been fatal and 63 non-fatal. The country boasts roughly 3,201 miles of coastline which attracts many divers to experience its rich aquatic life and some of them even go to dive with the sharks. Fishing of sharks is a lucrative business in the country, and $1.2 million of shark products were exported out of the nation in 1999.

Preventive Measures

Swimmers or divers are advised to observe several precautions to avoid shark attacks. One should observe the swimming patterns of fish, and if they begin to dart way, it should be taken as an indication that a shark or another predator is within the vicinity. Erratic movements can alert sharks of a person's presence so strokes and kicks should be made smoothly. A swimmer with an exposed wound or a bleeding cut should avoid swimming in open waters.

Shark Attacks By Country

RankCountry (Data Source: Unprovoked Since 1900Non-FatalFatal
1United States16571513144
3South Africa39529996
4Papua New Guinea1186355
6New Zealand795524
11New Caledonia463115
24Solomon Islands20128

More in Environment