Positive identification of attacking sharks is very difficult since victims rarely make adequate observations of the attacker during the “heat” of the interaction. Tooth remains are seldom found in wounds and diagnostic characters for many requiem sharks – those in the Carcharhinidae family – are difficult to discern even by trained professionals.
Use This Table With Caution!
This list must be used with caution because attacks involving easily identified species, such as white, tiger, sandtiger, hammerhead and nurse sharks, nearly always identify the attacking species, while cases involving difficult to identify species, such as requiem sharks of the genus Carcharhinus, seldom correctly identify the attacker. Thus the list is skewed to readily identified species. A number of requiem sharks in the genus Carcharhinus likely are involved in many more attacks than they are credited in this list and, if the list could reflect that reality, Carcharhinus bites would push such species as the sandtiger, hammerhead and nurse sharks towards the bottom of the list.
Nonetheless, the white, tiger and bull sharks are the “Big Three” in the shark attack world because they are large species that are capable of inflicting serious injuries to a victim, are commonly found in areas where humans enter the water, and have teeth designed to shear rather than hold. Realistically, almost any shark in the right size range, roughly six feet (1.8 meters) or greater, is a potential threat to humans because, even if a bite is not intended as a directed feeding attempt on a human, the power of the jaw and tooth morphology can lead to injury.
The following only includes species confirmed to be implicated in unprovoked incidents.
NOTE: Requiem spp. are members of the family Carcharhinidae. Examples of these include blacktip, spinner, and sandbar sharks. Due to the similarity of small coastal species in this group in tooth shape, body size, and appearance, it is often difficult to assign a species in bite cases. Based on life history traits, ISAF suspects blacktip sharks (C. limbatus) account for the majority of these requiem bites in Florida. However, these cases lack enough evidence to be conclusive.
Species of shark implicated in confirmed unprovoked attacks around the world
|Species||Common Name||Non-fatal Unprovoked||Fatal Unprovoked||Total|
|Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos||Grey Reef||8||1||9|
|Carcharhinus brachyurus||Bronze Whaler||15||1||16|
|Carcharhinus longimanus||Oceanic Whitetip||12||3||15|
|Carcharhinus melanopterus||Blacktip Reef||14||0||14|
|Carcharhinus perezi||Caribbean Reef||4||0||4|
|Carcharias taurus||Sand Tiger||36||0||36|
|Heterodontus portusjacksoni||Port Jackson||1||0||1|
|Isurus oxyrinchus||Shortfin Mako||9||1||10|
|Orectolobus maculatus||Spotted Wobbegong||4||0||4|
|Orectolobus ornatus||Ornate Wobbegong||3||0||3|
|Triaenodon obesus||Whitetip reef||5||0||5|
|Squatina dumeril||Atlantic Angel Shark||1||0||1|