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The States That Have the Most Shark Attacks
When it comes to enjoying a day at the beach, nothing can ruin your vacation quite like a shark attack. As a result, if you're planning to travel to one of the United States' beaches, it would be helpful to know which states experience the most shark attacks each year.
Fortunately, ichthyologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History track shark attacks on the International Shark Attack File and release annual reports on the places that experience the most of these violent and sometimes fatal encounters.
The International Shark Attack File's records include shark attacks that have happened in the United States since 1837, and rank states according to the frequency of attacks. Flordia, Hawaii, South Carolina, California, North Carolina, Texas, and Oregon are the states (in order) that have seen the most shark attacks.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Florida: 812 Shark Attacks
The "endless coastline" of the Sunshine State has seen the most shark attacks since recordkeeping began, totaling over 800 attacks since 1837, including three fatalities since 2001.
Most attacks happen along the Atlantic coast, with Volusia (299) and Brevard (144) counties recording the highest numbers. However, there have also been over 80 shark attacks in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily off the southern and northwestern coasts.
Most shark attacks happen April through October, with 103 shark attacks reported in September since 1926. Blacktip and Bull sharks account for 40 percent of the species involved in unprovoked shark attacks in Florida since 1926 (20 percent each), and Spinner and Hammerhead sharks account for 16 and 13 percent, respectively.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Hawaii: 159 Shark Attacks
Like in Florida, there have been three fatal shark attacks in Hawaii since 2001, but the islands have experienced significantly fewer shark attacks overall with just 159 since 1828.
Shark attacks are just as likely off the coast of any of the Hawaiian islands, but due to the population and tourist crowd sizes in Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, these three islands have reported far more attacks than other islands at 62, 48, and 28 attacks respectively.
Since the weather in Hawaii remains relatively the same year-round, the frequency of shark attacks doesn't fluctuate much from month to month. However, more incidents have been reported in October through January in the last few years, perhaps due to the warmer temperatures of underwater currents this time of year.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
California: 122 Shark Attacks
Since 2001, there have been five fatal shark attacks, but the number of violent shark encounters is still less than that of Florida or Hawaii with just 122 attacks reported since 1926.
The California locations with the most attacks are scattered fairly evenly along the coast, though visitors to southern California are more likely to experience an attack than visitors to northern beaches. Additionally, popular surfing, swimming, and beach-going counties like Santa Barbara, San Diego, Humboldt, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey see more attacks—perhaps more because of the number of people who visit these destinations than because of the frequency of sharks in the area compared to elsewhere.
White sharks make up 97 percent of all shark attacks in California. On the other hand, Leopard, Mako, and blue sharks each make up only one percent of the total number of shark attacks—meaning only one attack from each has been recorded since 1950.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
South Carolina: 102 Shark Attacks
Since 1926, there have been 102 shark attacks in South Carolina, but only two fatalities have been recorded—both of which happened in the Charleston and Myrtle Beach area.
Not coincidentally, Charleston County has experienced the most shark attacks, reporting 34 since 1837, with Horry and Beaufort Counties following close behind with 31 and 23 attacks, respectively. Georgetown (8) and Colleton (2) Counties have experienced the fewest total shark attacks, mostly because they aren't as popular of destinations for beach-going fun.
Since Folly Beach in Charleston County and Myrtle Beach in Horry County are among the most popular ocean-side destinations in the state, these areas have also seen the most shark attacks. Interestingly, Savannah's Tybee beach, other popular destination, hasn't reported any shark attacks throughout its history.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
North Carolina: 64 Shark Attacks
Although shark attacks in North Carolina saw a sharp spike in 2015, frequencies of attacks have since abated, and there has only been a total of 64 attacks reported since 1837 and only once fatality since 2001.
The locations with the most attacks have traditionally been in the southern part of the state with the southern-most counties of Brunswick and New Hanover Counties both experiencing 13 and Onslow and Carteret Counties reporting 10 each since 1935. Hyde County, whose beaches border the Pamlico Sound instead of the ocean directly, has only reported three attacks.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Texas: 42 Shark Attacks
While the beach might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Texas, the state has hundreds of miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico that visitors enjoy each summer. Since reporting started 1911 for the state, Texas has recorded 42 shark attacks resulting in five fatalities—all of which happened prior to 2001.
The Texas locations with the most attacks are Galveston (18) and Nueces (11), which are also the most popular destinations in the state for beach activities. The southernmost county in Texas, Cameron, has reported only seven attacks throughout its history. The last reported shark attack (as of 2018) was in June of 2016 off Pirates Beach in Galveston.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Oregon: 27 Shark Attacks
Oregon only started reporting incidents of shark attacks in 1974, and since then there have been a total number of 27 shark attacks, none of which were fatal.
As so few attacks have been reported, there's no real data available on which part of the state you're more likely to experience an attack. However, as attacks have steadily increased since 1974, you should still remain cautious no matter what part of the coast you're visiting.