Statistics on White Sharks Implicated in Attacks

For further information, see the Worldwide Shark Attack Summary and the Carcharodon carcharias species profile.

Length of White Sharks Involved in Unprovoked Attacks

1580-Present

This graph depicts the reported size of white sharks responsible for attacks on humans. Over 70% of attacking white sharks are larger than 10 feet in length. This is a reflection of the shift in dietary preferences of the white shark as it grows. Young white sharks under 10 feet primarily feed on fishes, and are therefore not as likely to attack something as large as a human. Individuals over 10 feet in length, however, prefer to prey upon marine mammals, such as seals and sea lions. As it happens, many of the locations where there are large congregations of seals and sea lions, there are also popular surfing and/or diving sites nearby. A human on a surfboard or a diver in a black wetsuit can easily be mistaken for a seal from a hunting white shark's point of view. These mistakes on the white shark's part may result in an attack on a human which is not a normally preferred food item.

Of 199 cases (N=199)

Last updated: July 08, 2014

Outcome of Unprovoked Shark Attacks by White Sharks of Various Length Classes

1580-Present

This graph indicates that larger white sharks are more prone to fatally wounding their victims than are smaller sharks. This is primarily because of the relative size of a shark compared to the size of the human victim. A larger shark has more strength and larger jaws and teeth capable of inflicting more serious wounds, even with a relatively minor bite. It should be noted that in the majority of these fatal attacks, the victim is not consumed but is left by the shark after 1-2 bites, leaving the victim to bleed to death.

Last updated: July 08, 2014

© International Shark Attack File
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida