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.

Species of shark implicated in confirmed unprovoked attacks around the world

SpeciesCommon NameNon-fatal UnprovokedFatal UnprovokedTotal
33+ Species668160828
Carcharhinus amblyrhynchosGrey Reef718
Carcharhinus brachyurusBronze Whaler14115
Carcharhinus brevipinnaSpinner16016
Carcharhinus falciformisSilky303
Carcharhinus galapagensisGalapagos011
Carcharhinus leucasBull7327100
Carcharhinus limbatusBlacktip28129
Carcharhinus longimanusOceanic Whitetip7310
Carcharhinus melanopterusBlacktip Reef11011
Carcharhinus obscurusDusky112
Carcharhinus pereziCaribbean Reef404
Carcharhinus plumbeusSandbar505
Carcharhinus spp.Requiem44751
Carcharias taurusSand Tiger29029
Carcharias spp.Lamniform022
Carcharodon carchariasWhite23480314
Galeocerdo cuvierTiger8031111
Galeorhinus galeusTope101
Ginglymostoma cirratumNurse505
Heterodontus portusjacksoniPort Jackson101
Isistius brasiliensisCookiecutter101
Isurus oxyrinchusShortfin Mako9110
Isurus spp.Mako808
Lamna nasusPorbeagle202
Negaprion brevirostrisLemon10010
Notorynchus cepedianusSevengill505
Orectolobus maculatusSpotted Wobbegong404
Orectolobus spp.Wobbegong28028
Prionace glaucaBlue9413
Rhinobatos spp.Guitarfish101
Sphyrna spp.Hammerhead17017
Triaenodon obesusWhitetip reef505
Triakis semifasciataLeopard101