Shark Attacks

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Most sharks are solitary animals, though a few, such as the spiny dogfish shark, form schools. Sharks may bite when provoked, but fewer than 30 species are considered dangerous, regardless of the situation. The two largest species, the whale and basking sharks, are harmless plankton feeders.

The so-called feeding frenzy, wherein sharks stimulated by the smell of blood feed ravenously and attack any object within reach, is one occasion when different species may be observed together. These feeding frenzies are infrequent. Some authorities doubt whether they occur naturally or only when provoked by humans who supply large quantities of food to attract sharks for studies on feeding behavior.

Sharks will attack humans at any time of day, in warm or cold water. Although most attacks are recorded during daylight hours in shallow warm waters accessible from a public beach, these statistics may simply reflect the fact that these are the conditions in which the greatest numbers of swimmers are found. The waters of coastal North America, South Africa, and the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas are the most frequent sites of shark attacks.

Large sharks, such as the great white, tiger, and bull sharks, that include human-sized prey in their diet are the most dangerous. Hammerhead, gray reef, lemon, dusky, blue, spinner, sand tiger, nurse, and Ganges River sharks will also attack humans.

Sharks will attack when they are hungry, but in most cases the reason for attack is unknown. Possible causes include territorial defense, mistaken identity for some other form of prey (this might explain why a shark often ceases its attack after one bite), chemical attractants such as blood in the water, and simply the movement, noises, and splashing of swimmers.

The sharks, along with their close relatives, the rays, belong to the class Chondrichthyes, or Selachii. The latter name is also used for an order that includes only the sharks.

See detailed statistics as proveded by Florida Museum of Natural History:

International Shark Attack File Statistics of Shark Attacks
1999 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary
1998 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary
1997 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary
MAPS of Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks
Graphs of Worldwide Trends in Shark Attacks Over the Past Decade & Century
ISAF Statistics for the Worldwide Locations with the Highest Shark Attack Activity Over the Past Decade
ISAF Statistics for the USA Locations with the Highest Shark Attack Activity Over the Past Decade
Graphs of Shark Attacks vs. Population Growth Over the Past Decade
Graphs of Shark Attacks vs. Victim's Activity
ISAF Statistics for Attacking Species of Sharks

Statistics of Unprovoked White Shark Attacks

Graphs of White Shark Attacks & Percentage of Fatal Attacks by Decade
MAPS of Confirmed Unprovoked White Shark Attacks
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Age of the Victim
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Victim's Sex
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Victim's Race
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Length
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Time of Day
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Water Temperature
Graph of White Shark Attacks vs. Water Depth

Statistics of Shark Attacks on Divers

  Data analyses presented on the Shark Attack on Divers web pages were supported by a grant from the PADI Foundation.  

 ISAF Statistics for Shark Attacks on Divers Worldwide
 Graphs of Shark Attacks on Divers & Percentage of Fatal Attacks
 Graphs of the Activity of Victim & Others
 Graphs of the Divers Clothes/Gear
 Graphs of Others in the Vicinity of the Diver
 Graphs of the Divers Characteristics
 Graphs of the Divers Injuries
 Graphs of the Water Conditions
 Graphs of the Water Depth & Attack Depth
 The Shark
 Passes, Bumps, Bites & Strikes

Since 15-May-2001