People travel across the world for clear waters and big waves, but do you ever stop to think about the dangers lurking beneath the great blue sea?
The United States has the most recorded shark attacks of any country, with a grand total of 1,441 since 1580. The white shark, tiger shark, and bull shark are the three sharks most commonly involved in attacks, and the most common activities victims are engaged in when attacks happen are surface recreation activities like surfing, water skiing, and floating.
The overall reason for the high volume of shark attacks in the States is the number of people in shark populated waters -- more people, more attacks. However, despite the many gruesome shark attack movies, death by shark attack comes with 1 in 3,748,067 odds, making it far less likely than other possible causes of death.
Although an attack isn’t likely, knowing more about where most sharks swim could save you a potential vacation horror story. Equipped with official information from the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File, we’re here to reveal the waters where you’re most likely to encounter a distinctly finned (and toothed) friend -- and we’re not talking about dolphins, just to be clear...
Volusia County is referred to as “the shark bite capital of the world.”
“The county has led the world in recorded bites over the past several years, hitting an all-time high of 15 bites in 2016. It retained the world’s top spot with nine recorded bites in 2017 and again last year with four bites,” according to reports by Fox News.
From 1882 to the present Volusia has had a total of 303 shark attacks according to the Florida Museum.
Despite the high incidence of shark attacks in the area, Fox News quotes the Daytona Beach News-Journal, saying there have been no reported fatalities.
New South Wales, Australia
Australia as a whole is second after the United States for having the most shark attacks in the world by country with a total of 642 documented cases from 1580 to the present according to the Florida Museum. Most of these attacks take place in one area, however: New South Wales. The Florida Museum reports the area having had 246 shark attacks from the 1700s to the present.
In 2018, there were seven shark attack fatalities in New South Wales, but none have been reported in 2019.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
As of 2017, publication Owlcation reports that Port Saint Johns beach in the Eastern Cape of South Africa is “the most dangerous beach in the whole world for shark attacks.” Owlcation’s article goes on to say that the beach was the site of seven shark fatalities in the seven years since 2012 alone. Likewise, surf, mountain, and outdoor culture publication Inertia also ranks South African beaches among the world’s deadliest shark attack beaches.
From 1828 to present, there have been 64 document shark attacks in the waters around Maui. On May 27, 2019, USA Today reported another fatality in Hawaiian waters. The report explained that this was Hawaii’s first shark attack since 2015 and that an unlucky 65-year-old-man from California was the victim.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources reported that there have been five fatal shark attacks off Hawaii since 2004, all of which occurred in Maui according to a Hawaii News Now article.
The popular Recife Beach in the Pernambuco area is the site of many shark attacks in Brazil. People may love to visit the beautiful beach, but locals know not to test the waters. Business Insider said Recife’s shark problem is relatively new and is linked to the construction of Port Suape, which necessitated the dredging of estuaries and building of long docks spanning the ocean. The BBC wrote that the new port was an issue, especially for bull sharks.
“Much of their life cycle is dependent on coastal estuaries and the building of Suape is thought to have disrupted breeding and hunting habits,” according to the BBC.
Also off the coast of Brazil? Snake Island: Brazil's off-limits spot populated by deadly snakes.
Reunion Island, Western Indian Ocean
An influx of rain-water run-off to the waters of this island has caused a rise in the bull shark population in the waters surrounding it. The island has had seven shark-related fatalities so far, but according to Deeper Blue, if they can’t control their shark problem, more could be in store.
From 1828 to the present there have been a total of 43 shark attacks in the area.
Charleston, South Carolina
South Carolina is ranked third in the nation for shark attacks and a majority of them have happened in or near Charleston, but the counties of Horry and Beaufort aren’t too far behind. Charleston comes in as having 35 shark attacks from 1837 to the present.
It’s not specified how many fatalities Charleston has had, but the state of South Carolina has had nine fatalities in the same timespan.
San Diego, California
San Diego has had 19 shark attacks from 1926 to the present. The most recent attack happened in 2018 when a 13-year-old-boy was attacked while diving for lobster. According to Encinitas lifeguard captain Larry Giles “Over 135 species live in this area. This is their natural environment.”
Luckily fatalities for the area are low as Shark Attack Data only reports two shark-related fatalities in San Diego; one in 1959 and one in 2008. There have been none since then in the area, but the state of California as a whole has 16 shark attack fatalities on record.
Brunswick, North Carolina
Brunswick, North Carolina, comes in last place for the most shark-infested waters in the world. From 1935 to the present the area has had 14 shark attacks, a number that’s large enough to note considering how rare shark attacks are. That said, North Carolina as a whole has had nine shark-related fatalities, and according to Shark Attack Data, Brunswick’s waters aren’t responsible for any of them.
Swim in these waters if you dare, but beware of the possibility of sharp-toothed ocean friends hiding nearby.
Planning a trip to Cape Cod? You might want to look into the area’s rising shark attack rates and learn how Cape Cod is trying to prevent shark attacks this summer.