September 25, 2023

Shark attacks in the US are most common in these 12 states

Aerial view of Melbourne beach in Florida with houses on the left, sandy beach in the middle and blue ocean on the right.

Florida has hundreds of miles of coastline that is home to more shark attacks than anywhere else in the US.Jeff Greenberg/contributor/Getty Images

  • Shark attacks are more common in the US than anywhere else in the world.

  • Nearly 60% of all shark bite incidents recorded in the US since 1837 have occurred in Florida.

  • Even if you swim in Florida waters, the chances of being bitten by a shark are very small.

In May, a shark bit a woman’s leg while she was swimming in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Earlier that same month, a great white shark killed a man off Buchan Point in Australia.

But if you think shark attacks are only confined to remote and isolated islands, you’d be surprised to learn that the US has seen far more unprovoked shark attacks than any other country, and many of these attacks take place near crowded beaches.

Where Most Shark Attacks Happen in the US

According to the International Shark Attack File, 1,604 unprovoked shark attacks have been reported in the US since the 16th century.

That’s more than double the number of shark attacks in Australia, which has the second highest number of attacks at 691.

A dark gray sicklefin shark swimming over the reef.

Lemon sharks are some of the most common shark species in Florida waters.Alexis Rosenfeld/contributor/Getty Images

And most of these US attacks took place in Florida, which is also known as the shark bite capital of the world.

However, Florida is not the only coastal state in America where shark attacks occur. Here is a list of the US states with the most unprovoked shark attacks since 1837:







south carolina


North Carolina






New York




New Jersey






Other states, including Virginia, Louisiana, Delaware and half a dozen others, recorded between one and five attacks during the same period.

Why does Florida have the most shark attacks?

“Shark attacks are most common in areas where there are both humans and sharks,” Peter Sorensen, a professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, told Insider.

And Florida fits this description pretty much perfectly. The 2,150 kilometers of coastline is home to 15 different shark species and more than 180 attractive beaches.

A surfer riding a white crest wave.

According to a study, surfers and divers are at the highest risk of a shark attack.WENDELL TEODORO/Contributor/Getty Images

According to the Florida Department of Environment Protection, approximately 19 million tourists visit the state each year to spend time on the beaches and enjoy water sports.

Hawaii and California, which rank second and third respectively on the list for the most shark attacks in the US, also have large shark populations and are known for their beaches and water sports.

Beach activities such as surfing, rafting and scuba diving take beachgoers farther from the shoreline into deeper water, which can also significantly contribute to shark attacks. One study found that about 46% (50 out of 108) of shark attack victims on the Pacific coast were divers and 38% (41 out of 108) were surfers.

Although it’s worth noting that your chances of dying from a shark attack are very low – lower than dying from a lightning strike.

James Sulikowski, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, told AP News, “We’re intruders on their environment. What we can do is be logical and safe and avoid areas where sharks are going to feed. When an interaction happens, it’s a mistaken identity – we are in an area where a shark is looking for food.”

Months when sharks attack the most

Dozens of hammerhead sharks swim from above.


The frequency of shark attacks “in the U.S. is high in the summer months. Why? Mainly because people go to the beach more in the summer than they do in the winter,” Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, told Insider.

Shark experts from the University of Florida also confirm that attacks increase between May and October and peak in August. This is also the typical time when sharks migrate and people in the US enjoy their summer vacation.

Humans kill millions of sharks every year

According to ISAF, 471 people in the US have been bitten by sharks between 2012 and 2021, killing a total of eight people. Worldwide, sharks attacked 761 people, leading to 60 fatalities in the same period.

That’s miniscule compared to the number of sharks that kill humans each year.

Dozens of dead sharks rot on a beach after their fins are removed for shark fin soup.

Shark finning unnecessarily kills countless sharks every year so we can continue to serve shark fin soup.VW Pics/Contributor/Getty Images

It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year for numerous shark-derived products such as fin soup, meat, cosmetics, oil and fertilizers.

Overfishing has reduced their population by more than 70% in the past 50 years. Clearly, humans pose a greater threat to sharks than shark bites to humans.

“Shark attacks are rare, and it’s extremely rare for humans to be eaten when they occur,” Sorensen said. “Most attacks are simply cases of people scaring sharks.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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