On the whole, the ‘deadly’ reputation of sharks is undeserved. After all, in 2018, humans killed around 100 million sharks while sharks killed only five humans. To put this in perspective, humans are more likely to die from fireworks, a champagne cork, heat exposure, a train crash, and a sand hole collapse. This being said, we still need to approach some sharks with caution, and here’s a list of the top five!
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
Fortunately, the Oceanic Whitetip Shark is considered a ‘pelagic’ species, and this means they like to stay away from land. Described as the ‘most dangerous of all sharks’ by Jacques Cousteau, this species is naturally inquisitive in the open waters. Since they don’t come near land, they need to jump on every opportunity for food. When humans venture further out to sea, we make the list.
According to Florida Museum records, there has been 15 unprovoked attacks with three leading to death. With this, it means they have a 20% fatality rate.
Again, we find another species that enjoys the open water, and this makes them the least dangerous of the five in this list. However, they have still killed in four of their 13 unprovoked attacks. When compared to other species, the fatality rate is quite high at 31%.
Fun Fact: Blue sharks are found all over the world and in every continent (apart from Antarctica). They have been found off the waters of Canada, Wales, South Africa, Japan, and in most corners of the globe.
Great White Shark
It’s time to get serious, and those who have seen the Jaws movies will know why. Although they don’t hold a vendetta against particular families (unlike in the later movies in the Jaws series), they’re infamous sea creatures and kill masses of fish every single day. For humans, great whites are the deadliest species and one reason for this is their love of coastal waters, and this is particularly true when surf conditions are ideal.
In total, 25% of the 314 people who have been attacked by a great white have died. If you’ve heard the tale that humans are attacked by mistake, this is absolutely true. Rather than a predatory attack, great whites attack humans thinking we’re seals or another tasty sea animal. In all likelihood, they’re actually disappointed with humans since we offer a poor taste and are quite bony for sharks to consume.
As one of the largest of all shark species, tiger sharks are incredibly powerful and one bite through a sea turtle’s shell will show this. They have attacked 111 people, with a fatality rate of 28%; this is the second most attacks behind only the great white. Much like the great white, attacks are normally undesired, and they tend to happen in murky waters.
Considered by many experts as the most dangerous shark, the bull shark is aggressive, large, and wholly unpredictable. At the top of their food chain, they thrive in both saltwater and freshwater. What does this mean? Well, they operate towards coastlines while also being able to move up rivers and smaller bodies of water. They have a fatality rate of 27%, but this would be higher if the shark wasn’t so difficult to identify.
Fun Fact: The Jaws novel by Peter Benchley was actually inspired by the 1916 shark attacks in Jersey Shore. Although evidence suggests a bull shark was guilty of these attacks, a great white was chosen for the book and movie that followed.