Gliding just below the surface, these ancient apex predators can transform an idyllic summer day into blood-soaked mayhem in a matter of seconds…. At least that what Hollywood would have you believe. The entertainment industry’s mass produced hysteria and our own obsession with these animals have led to the slaughter of over 100 million sharks per year. On the contrary, shark attacks only account for 5-15 human fatalities worldwide.
5. Bull Shark
There are more than 375 shark species, but only a handful are considered particularly deadly. Our pick for the Number Five deadliest shark certainly earns his place in that dangerous dozen.
Bull Sharks grow 2.1-3.4m long and clock in at 90-230 kg. They are known for their tendency to head-butt victims before moving in to attack. What makes them particularity alarming is their proximity to humans. Unlike other risky sharks, they live in warm water near coasts worldwide, making a human encounter with a Bull Shark far more likely than with many other species.
Think you’re safe on land? Think again. Bull Sharks can, and do infiltrate freshwater rivers! Their physical makeup, especially highly developed kidneys, grant them access to rivers and lakes up to a thousand miles inland. They’ll snack on almost anything, including dolphins, various fish and other sharks. You heard it. The Bull Shark is a cannibal. So how many human victims has this shallow water savage slaughtered? Bull Sharks attack 104 people annually, a third of which are fatal.
4. Oceanic Whitetip
Coming in at Number Four on our countdown of deadliest sharks is the Oceanic Whitetip, the horror of mariners for centuries. These audacious open-water opportunists are unwelcome first-responders to any nautical disaster. They love the thrill of the kill and have been responsible for an unknown number of attacks and deaths annually of souls unfortunate to find themselves stranded in their company. The USS Indianapolis is one of the best-documented cases of the brutality of their attacks. Up to 800 sailors perished in the incident.
Oceanic Whitetips are smaller sharks, weighing 167.4 kg and growing to 396 cm but don’t let their diminutive size fool you. Their jaws are exceptionally powerful and devastating. Oceanic Whitetips don’t limit their onslaught to unlucky seamen. They have been known to go after swimmers and divers with ruthless zeal. In 2010 Oceanic Whitetips orchestrated a series of bloody attacks in the Red Sea, which left one woman dead.
3. Shortfin Mako (Blue Pointer)
Number Three on our list of the Five Most Dangerous Sharks is the Shortfin Mako or blue pointer. They are 4m of fast-moving fish and their lightning speed has earned them a place on this list. Shortfin Mako’s aren’t especially problematic for humans in the ocean, but the trouble begins when their intense momentum causes them to hurl out of the water and onto unsuspecting fishing boats. They are the fastest shark recorded, reaching speeds of 32 km an hour which enables them to jump as high as 6m out of the water.
Shortfin Mako sharks have a tendency to fling themselves right out of their habitat into ours, like a real life Sharknado. The ensuing damage can be devastating to vessels and fatal to fisherman. Their weight alone causes horrendous injuries among shocked sailors who have suddenly found a shark in their midst. 45 attacks and 3 fatalities annually are attributed to these speed demons. When Shortfin Mako sharks aren’t terrorizing watercrafts in their midst, they’re zooming around the ocean in figure 8 patterns and posing little or no threat to people. Just beware if your boat is bobbing above them.
2. Tiger Shark
Jaws might haunt your nightmares as the ultimate villain of the seas, but you’d be forgetting about his little, equally vicious brother. Our number two pick is a known man-eater and is horrifyingly prevalent in tropical coastal waters. Australia and Hawaii suffer the brunt of these vicious beasts that glide through their waters.
The Tiger Shark, also known as the “garbage can of the sea” for it’s less than discerning palate, as combative as it is common. It will eat anything, including people, so an unlucky encounter with a Tiger Shark could wind up with one of you being dead. Care to guess which? Tiger Sharks are the fourth biggest shark at 3.25-4.25m long and their weight ranges from 385 to 635 kg. Their jaws are designed to pulverize even the hard shells of sea turtles, making them no match for humans. These salt-water bruisers have distinct vertical stripes and an attitude to match their name. Tiger Sharks are responsible for 155 attacks and 29 fatalities per year.
1. Great White
Great White Sharks have a reputation as oceanic demons, rising up from the depths to snatch and butcher unsuspecting swimmers. Our hysteria of this creature is not totally unfounded. Great White Sharks account for one-third to one-half of all shark attacks worldwide, and at 4.6m long and 2,268 kg, they are formidable and powerful beasts whose preferred method of consumption is to rip their victims to pieces and swallow them whole.
Great whites can identify a single drop of blood in 100L of water, which makes you think twice about jumping into the sea with a skinned knee! They are a fast, fearsome apex predator that often mistakes humans for their preferred prey of seals, sea lions and other water-dwelling animals. Humans aren’t on the menu, but that’s small comfort when you consider that Great Whites are responsible for over 400 attacks and 74 fatalities annually.
Are they the bloodthirsty maniacs that Hollywood has painted them to be? They are certainly terrifying and can and do inflict gruesome damage, but the more we learn about Great Whites, the more we discover that they aren’t machines that kill at random. Just be careful if you’re floating above them with your surfboard!