Most Dangerous Sharks

Few animals instill quite the same fear as sharks. As apex predators many types of sharks are well equipped to inflict serious injury; large, fast, powerful and armed with row upon row of razor sharp teeth these fish are finely honed killing machines. Yet with around 400 shark species it is only a tiny minority that present any danger to humans. I would regard only three, possibly four, of all the species as “man-eating sharks“.

After sifting through the shark attack records held by the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) and the Global Shark Attack File (GSAF) it is clear that only a few species habitually attack people and that many of the other shark species need provoking before they will bite.
Statistically it is incredibly rare for any species of shark to attack, but when they do the results can be so horrific that it is burnt into the popular psyche. Reports of victims bitten in two or half eaten by sharks the size of a school bus are always going to be at the back of many people’s minds as they dip their toe in the ocean.

Onto the list. Unlike many lists that just rank the sharks purely on the statistics, I have looked at the potential to do damage, aggression and habitats of the sharks to decide which pose the biggest threat to humans.

10. Hammerhead Shark

Hammerhead shark

Photo: Barry Peters / License

Attacks: 34
Fatalities: 1
The hammerhead sharks are actually a family of sharks (Sphyrnidae) which range in size from less than a metre (3ft) to over 6 metres (20ft). It is believed the strangely shaped head allows the shark better all round vision. To most observers the different species are difficult to tell apart, especially when they’re biting your foot off. It does seem likely though that it is the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) which are the most likely candidates. Reaching a whopping 6+ metres (20ft), weighing up to 600kg (1,300 lb) and equipped with teeth similar to those of the bull shark there is no doubt the great hammerhead could easily inflict deadly injuries on a human. It is also suggested that these may be more aggressive than other hammerhead species.

As a group the hammerheads have been involved in 34 attacks over the years, one of which was fatal. Whether this number reflects their potential danger is uncertain as they are an endangered species.

9. Blacktip Shark

Blacktip Shark

Photo: Albert Kok

Attacks: 41
Fatalities: 1
The blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) is both common and widely distributed throughout the tropical /subtropical shallows of the world. It gets its name from the black tips and fringes to its fins and tail. Generally blacktips are fairly small measuring less than 5ft (1.6m), however bigger specimens can reach up to 9ft (2.8m) and weigh over 100kg (220lb). What they lack in size they make up for in energy, often being seen leaping out of the water when chasing fish.

Blacktip sharks are not generally regarded as being very dangerous to humans owing to their size. But they are frequent attackers, making up the highest percentage of shark attacks in Florida. The ISAF has 41 attacks by blacktip sharks on record, one of which was fatal.

8. Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark / Grey Nurse

Photo: Thomas Males

Attacks: 64
Fatalities: 2
Many people are familiar with the sand tiger (Carcharias taurus) as the large sharks you see when visiting an aquarium. They go by a number of names including grey nurse shark, ragged-tooth shark and blue-nurse sand tiger and are found in warm waters around the world.

The sand tiger shark grows to around 3.2 metres (11ft) in length and can weigh up to 160kg (350 lbs). However, it is the ferocious looking teeth that tend to get people’s attention. There are three rows of long, sharp, pointy teeth which menacingly protrude from the sharks mouth. Despite looking terrifying, the teeth are designed for grasping small slippery prey such as fish and squid.

Sand tiger sharks probably have a worse reputation than they deserve. The fact they are called ‘tigers’ and frequently roam the surfline putting them into contact with humans does not help their cause. In reality they are not tigers at all and relatively docile. That said they have been known to attack and they have been responsible for two deaths. Many of the attacks seem to have involved spear-fishing where the shark has gone for the catch. There have also been a couple of incidents with people bitten in aquariums.

7. Blue shark

Blue Shark

Photo: Mark Conlin/NMFS

Attacks: 32
Fatalities: 4
Another member of the requiem shark family, the Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) is one of the most widespread  and common sharks. It can be found as far north as Norway and as far south as Chile, yet being a deep water species it rarely come into contact with people. This streamlined shark is capable of bursts of speed which it uses for chasing down its prey of squid and fish. The largest specimens recorded are over 12 ft (3.8m), but there have been unconfirmed reports of up to 21 feet.

In the wild the blue shark has few natural predators although it is said killer whales will take them. Larger sharks may also prey on small blue sharks, this was illustrated in 1969 at Sea World in San Diego where captive blue sharks were mixed in with bull sharks. Suffice to say the bull sharks thrived…

In terms of danger the odds a firmly stacked in humans favour. Between 10 and 20 million sharks are killed a year through fishing. On the other hand the blue shark is considered potentially dangerous and has been responsible for fatal attacks. Some were the result of the shark being landed in a fishing boat but others occurred on shipwrecked sailors in the open ocean. The blue shark is known to circle swimmers and divers for up to 15 minutes and it may be more inclined to take a bit in such situations.

6. Bronze Whaler Shark

Bronze Whaler Shark

Photo: qldian

Attacks: 35
Fatalities: 2
The bronze whaler or copper shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus) gets its name from its colouring and the fact that this and other sharks would congregate at the sites of whale kills in the days of whaling. It is common in war, but not tropical waters around the world where it spends its time in shallow bays, harbours and estuary mouths. The species is at its most prominent during the annual sardine run in South Africa where it will gorge on the fish in groups exhibiting feeding frenzy behaviour.

The bronze whaler is a large shark reaching over 10ft (3m) in length and weighing around 675 lbs (300kg). It is a fast powerful swimmer equipped with long serrated teeth. With its size and dentition the whaler does pose a threat to humans and has been implicated in quite a few attacks. It isn’t generally aggressive towards humans but it has been known to harass spear fishermen. There have also been a number of unprovoked attacks on swimmers and surfers along the east coast of Australia including being implicated in at least two attacks that proved fatal.

  • Quavion

    I did not know there a lot of the most biggest sharks

    • Quavion

      And there are a lot of Great White Sharks

      • surfgatinho

        Not too many – they are a protected species. Also you only find them in certain places.

  • Desdemona’s bane

    “By the way she is extremely hot too!”

    Spoken like a true 15-year-old. Perhaps you should try to be a bit more professional in the future.

    • surfgatinho

      Given that the majority of this site’s visitors will fall into this demographic I don’t think this comment is particularly out of place. In fact I’d say it was an entirely ‘professional’ decision to include the sentence.

    • aniya davis

      I agree .

    • MermaidGirl

      Hahahaa! I thought he was talking about the shark!!!

  • AnswersAnonymous

    The Great White is not the most deadly shark in the world. The Bull Shark is, in fact, considered the most deadly by most experts. Though the Great White has been involved in a number of attacks, many being fatal, the Bull Shark is most deadly due to it’s ability to survive in fresh water and it’s aggression. Bull Sharks have more testosterone (even the females of this species) than a male elephant in the mating season, which obviously makes them extremely aggressive and territorial.
    Most experts will tell you that the Bull is the most deadly of all the sharks. Many Bull Shark attacks are blamed on Great Whites so, in reality, Bull Sharks have probably attacked just as many, if not more, humans than Great Whites.

    • surfgatinho

      Agreed. And I think most of the points you made are included above.

      However, I went with the great white for three reasons: 1. It wins out statistically. 2. It is a more powerful, better armed killing machine. And 3. it just looks much scarier!

      • AnswersAnonymous

        “It just looks scarier”?? Are you serious??

        • Ammon E. Austin

          The chances of you surviving a bull shark attack are much greater than a great white. Although Bull sharks have more availability and more likely to attack, you have a decent chance to survive, especially since their attacks are usually in shallow water so they’re easier to see while in the area.

          GWS attacks are in the deep sea where they usually attack from underneath. Combined with their far greater physical power than a bull shark, you’re guaranteed to die unless the GWS decides to spare your life.

      • Nikki south

        YES FINALLY SOME ONE UNDERSTANDS!

    • Nikki

      ok if u want to belive that go ahead I’m not gonna stop you.

    • Nikki south

      yeah…

    • Brad Carter

      The article said that. But given many of Bull Shark attacks go unrecorded one can’t possibly put any shark above the white shark. Look at those statistics..

      • Jason Shwagner

        Actually most recent data shows virtually every great white attack and or death was the result of either accidental bites while the shark was eating other prey or “taste” bites and the shark left. GW sharks have never full on attacked and eaten a human deliberately, ever in history that has been verified and proven reliably. Several others like the bull and mako have been documented as deliberate and have even been photographed or filmed doing so. The GW shark is highly misunderstood and villanized mainly due to an overrated 70s horror film and it’s unfortunate name association.

        • surfgatinho

          Says that in the article. But at the end of the day, accidental or not, GWs still kill the most people…

          • Anonymous

            No they don’t, most attacks attributed to Great White Sharks were far more likely to have been by Bull Sharks, including the 1916 Jersey Shore attacks. Great White sharks don’t eat humans, however Bull Sharks do eat humans.

          • surfgatinho

            How do you know the last hundred years of shark attack data is wrong? Do you have a source?

          • CrimsonDivide

            Because it has been constantly pointed out that for the last hundred years The Great White was blamed for shark attacks simply because it was the most vicious looking one. Most of those White Tip Kills? They used to be labeled as Great White kills until more studies showed that behavioral odds point towards the White Tip and not the Great White. As researchers learn animalistic traits/behavior habits they eventually can change previous assumptions based on it not matching the characteristics of the animal.

            Great Whites for example have almost NEVER deliberately attacked a human.

        • Rjay1127

          That is true, but i believe they are refering to other prey and not humans

    • Rjay1127

      You are correct to an extent. The bull shark hunts in groups, and that is how they are effective at killing. Although, great white sharks hunt in singulars, and by themselves are much mare dangerous then a bull shark is alone.

      • CrimsonDivide

        I’d rather get caught in the water with a great white over a mako, Tiger, or Bull shark any day though. that Great White I just have to hope has recently eaten, the other 3 will most likely attack even if they have.

        • Koko

          But, if a bull or a mako attack you, they’ll flee after realizing you taste like crap and from all your hitting.
          By the time a great white realizes you taste like crap, both of your legs are already missing.

    • the unknown man he or she is u

      hey at lest its second

    • the unknown man he or she is u

      jaws is actually a bull shark not a Great White

    • Koko

      But if a bull shark attacks you, you can hit it and have a chance to survive.
      Against a far larger great white, you can die instantly.

  • Pfft

    Meh, either you do something stupid, leak blood into the water, or hurt one severely and that is the only time a shark will attack you. Any shark is deadly, but they aren’t going to kill you because they see you, smell you or hear you….

    • Nikki south

      HEY! I do that alot and NO sharks get ME!

  • Peter

    Be interesting to know the numbers of each shark in existence, but it looks like Great White is the deadliest as its quite rare yet has killed the shit out of many poor humans.

    • Nikki south

      true that!

  • Nikki south

    Great white has attacked 400+ people and you are saying that they AREN’T dangerous?!

  • Jimmy

    Could you please show the evidence for the single Hammerhead fatality?

    • surfgatinho
    • CashMcCall

      Lots of them. Check out “Myth and the Maneater” David Kenyon Webster. Several fatalities. Off California and North Carolina beaches. I have surfed all US Coasts. I had a 12 inch Hammerhead swimming around us off figure eight in North Carolina. I was more concerned about where Mommy was hiding.

      Greatest number of Shark attacks in the world is Volusia County Florida. Fortunately most are sandsharks but they are everywhere. Off Smyrna Beach on Summer mornings you can see hundreds of sharks clearing their gills and converging just beyond the break. Biggest Shark I ever saw was an Australian Gray nurse. Winter Surf with feathering offshore breeze, crystal clear lovely winter day in Australia. This sure put the damper on the day. This is main reason for Australian caged beaches. Funny thing is the gray nurse in Coastal USA is a very docile fish. The Australian is very aggressive.

  • me

    Great white sharks are pussy fish. Sharks are pussy fish in general. Ohhhh… I will go eat a baby seal. Killer whales have driven great whites off the Farrilons after they killed one. A giant squid would probably rip a great white shark to pieces with little trouble. Jaws was nonsense. Great whites rarely get over 15 feet much less than 20. 25?? never recorded. Great white sharks and sharks and general are pussy fish. Humans own them. And we will continue to own and dominate the pussy fish because they were born to be killed and eaten by us.

    • Rall

      Wow this dude got some issues, btw, great white sharks can’t live in cage, they die for some reason. Have you ever seen a great white shark in seaworld or anything like that? no? how come can humans then own a shark, who cant live in a cage?

      Call it a pussy fish just because movies have overrated the shark, but i bet you won’t when you,re diving right in front of it.

      Imagine if humans didn’t have such technology, good luck fighting a shark by hand, but then again, we’re intelligent, and shouldn’t abuse the animals there isn’t.

      Eat as much shark as you wan’t to, dumbass.

      • Dre Rossiter

        Yea, some people just don’t respect nature…

      • Fox_sux

        You respond to a tongue&cheek post as if it were serious with
        personal comments and you think I have issues? Jeez. Hello pot meet
        kettle. But just staying in character. The great white shark is a
        pussy fish. Beats up on baby sea lions either because it is too slow
        or too stupid to catch the adults!! 😉 F***** shark is a pussy
        fish… not even in the top 5 in the ocean. 5 ocean dwelling critters
        that could kill f***** pussy great white sharks: 1) orcas, 2) sperm
        whales, 3) giant squid, 4) box jellyfish, 5) collasial squid. Maybes
        include the greenland shark, 6 gill shark, tiger shark, and false
        killer whale. F****** great white is probably not even in the top 10.
        If one met a cone snail on the wrong day it would go crawling home to
        mommy! 😉 See ya pot.

        • surfgatinho

          I only approved this post so the rest of the World could see how much of an idiot you are…

    • Koko

      There is not a single squid or octopus in the ocean that would survive an attack from a great white.
      Yes, octopi eat smaller sharks, but even a teenage great white would kill a colossal squid with no effort.

  • C.C

    Hm. The Sharks are one of the most feared species in the world, when in reality they are probably the ones who shouldn’t be feared. Shark attacks only happen because mindless idiots go through places where the shark is, disturbing their natural habitat. They should be studied more often, and this is just putting more fear into people. And several of these facts are untrue, including about the Great White being the most powerful.

  • Sherrie Smith

    I know they’re dangerous but they’re also just gorgeous. Ancient, graceful, beautiful. These are living dinosaurs, folks!

  • afraid of water

    I watched Jaws in theaters when I was 12-13, I spent the next 3 years in the school library researching them…learned that sharks are cool and they kill for food cause of instinct and not for fun like humans……dont eat sharks and dont buy china based shark products………they are cool and many generations should enjoy seeing them living free in the world!!!

  • MystiKasT

    Damn, that girl is incredibly hot. white women are so beautiful. A little weird in the head, but beautiful.

  • Kawaii~Ripley

    You left out the actual most deadly shark EVER!!!!!!! The Megalodon shark!!!!!!! P.S. that shark isn’t extinct and its most deadly so stop your arguing over which shark is most deadly!

  • Funkey Geezues

    how the hell could the sand tiger shark be on this list. we cal them grey nurse sharks here in australia and there considered to be the most placid shark roaming around in our waters. unless the ragged tooth or sand tiger shark are actually a different species as it suggests it isnt, there is no way this shark can be considered dangerous to human

    • surfgatinho

      From the article: “In reality they are not tigers at all and relatively docile. That said they have been known to attack and they have been responsible for two deaths”.

      As most of the other 400 species of sharks have caused NO human deaths this means [statistically] that the sand tiger is in the top ten…

      • Funkey Geezues

        well i would never have guessed that. here in australia they were hunted before they realized it was bull sharks attacking people. i thought they never attacked at all. crazy. id say in reality though cookie cutters are more dangerous if they werent so deep. cheers