Humans kill a lot more sharks than sharks kill humans, but it’s hard not to get alarmed when the number of unprovoked shark attacks reached a record high of 98 last year. The number of unprovoked shark attacks in the United States alone set a record of 59, surpassing its previous high of 53 in 2012 and 2000. This data is from the International Shark Attack File, which has been maintaining data on all known shark attacks for nearly 60 years. Here are 12 beach counties with the most shark attacks in the United States, according to the most recent data from the ISAF.
12 Beaches With The Most Shark Attacks in the U.S.
1. Volusia, Florida - 275 (1882-2016)
Florida wins in terms of shark attacks in the U.S. Volusia County, home of Daytona Beach, has had the most shark attacks by far, but very few have been fatal. At New Smyrna Beach in Volusia, there are more shark-related incidents per square mile than on any other beach in the world. In fact, if you’ve ever gone swimming in New Smyrna beach, chances are you’ve probably been within 3 meters of a shark, according to Regenold. That’s probably why Volusia is nicknamed the “Shark Attack Capital of the World.”
2. Brevard, Florida – 130 (1882-2016)
Brevard County in Florida, where Titusville is located, is also a flocking ground for sharks. It’s not unheard of that multiple rescues take place on a single given day in Brevard County. There were four incidents of shark attacks at Cocoa Beach last year, a popular beach spot in Brevard County. Brevard was noted alongside Volusia for having the highest number of shark attacks in Florida.
3. Palm Beach, Florida – 69 (1882-2016)
Thousands of sharks were captured on film teeming off Florida’s beaches, Palm Beach being one of them. CNN reported that thousands of sharks migrated off the coast of some of Florida’s most popular beach towns, and recommended that people stay out of the water. On the other hand, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claimed there was little need for worry, because there has never been a fatal attack credited to the regional blacktip shark.
4. Maui, Hawaii – 56 (1828-2016)
Shark attacks have been increasing in Hawaii, especially off Maui. Scientists say that the sharks have been here for ages, but that people are inadvertently creating recreational areas right next to the shark habitats. The number of shark attacks in Hawaii tripled over the past few years compared to the number of attacks a decade ago. Since 2012, more than 60% of all shark attacks in Hawaii occurred off Maui.
Photo: Four Seasons Oahu
5. Oahu, Hawaii – 38 (1828-2016)
There was a lot of news in 2015 about shark attacks on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It came to the point where officials had to debate whether or not to close the beaches after a shark attack sent a victim to the hospital. On average, there have been between three and six attacks a year in Hawaii, but there was a record-breaking high of 12 incidents in 2013.
6. St. Johns, Florida – 37 (1882-2016)
Another one of Florida’s beach areas takes a top spot in terms of shark attacks in the U.S. St. John’s County on Florida's northern shore, where St. Augustine is located, is a place with frequent shark attacks and is just south of Duval, which is coming up at #8 on this list. Some beaches to watch out for in St. Johns County are Point Vedra, Crescent and St. Augustine Beach. Luckily, there have been no incidents of fatal shark attacks in recent months.
7. Martin, Florida - 35 (1882-2016)
Martin is on the southern part of Florida’s coast, just below St. Lucie, which comes in at #10. It’s home to Jupiter Island and several state parks, which also means the area sees a lot of tourist traffic. Only one shark attack was reported as fatal, when a 38-year-old man who was kite surfing 500 yards off the beach in Stuart was reportedly surrounded and attacked by sharks in 2010.
8. Duval, Florida – 32 (1882-2016)
Duval County is home to several beaches including Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach. There was one possible shark attack reported in Jacksonville Beach last year, but the woman survived the attack and was treated on the scene.
9. Charleston, South Carolina – 32 (1837-2016)
Charleston, South Carolina has its fair share of shark attacks, and two of the thirty-something incidents have been fatal. Though there have been 32 shark attacks in Charleston since 1837, the Global Shark Attack File records 124 unprovoked bites in the entirety of South Carolina since 1837.
10. St. Lucie, Florida – 31 (1882-2016)
St. Lucie County helps put Florida at the top of the shark attack watch list. Although none of the attacks were fatal, recent shark sightings caused major beach closures in the area. St. Lucie is home to popular beach destinations including Jensen Beach, Blind Creek Beach and Walton Rocks Beach.
11. Horry, South Carolina – 30 (1837-2016)
Horry County is home to Myrtle Beach, a popular coastal vacation spot of South Carolina. Although North Carolina has been seeing more shark activity in recent years, South Carolina still holds the record for more shark attacks over the years.
12. Kaua‘i, Hawaii – 24 (1828-2016)
Kaua‘i, Hawaii is home to hundreds of beaches, so it’s hard to isolate the shark attacks to just one spot in the ocean. However, Hanalei Bay, Pīla‘a Beach and Pākalā have been sites for shark attacks in recent years. Luckily, a lot of the reported incidents include the sharks biting surfers’ boards, or non-fatal injuries that include lacerations and puncture wounds.
This piece was written by Hanna Choi.