New shark attack file shows lots of bites in Florida, deaths in South Africa

Saturday afternoons in July are prime time to get bitten by the ocean's greatest predator, according to a new shark attack file that looks at big fish bites over the past half-century. has compiled 47 years of shark attack data into a global mapping system that keeps track of all documented bites.

Florida has long been the shark bite capital of the world, and statistics bear that out.

On average, there are about 100 documented shark attacks around the globe each year, and Florida is home to most of those.

Oh, and the safest time to enter ocean waters, according to the site, is Tuesday mornings at dawn in February.

So how many people have been attacked by sharks in the past half-century, and what are your chances of being fatally attacked at the beach? has compiled 47 years of shark bite data to create a worldwide look at how sharks interact with humans.

Let's first set the backdrop with overall numbers.

What are the odds of being killed by a shark?

According to the site, it's been 15 years since anyone has been fatally attacked by a shark in Florida.

The last attack of any type in Lee-Collier area came in 2005 at Boca Grande. Someone was wading there and was bitten by an unknown species. It was not a fatality.

Also in Southwest Florida, an attack occurred at Siesta Key in Sarasota County in 2020, according to

Just up the coast, a fatal attack occurred at Boca Ciega Bay in Pinellas County in 2000.

But your odds of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million.

Overall, the United States has tallied the most attacks (720) with a fatality rate of 6%. Australia and Africa report far fewer attacks, 261 and 72 respectively, yet both nations are home to waters that are much more deadly than those in the states.

The fatality rate in Australia is 23%, while the kill rate in Africa is a whopping 38%, according to the site.

White sharks are the top biters

Cabot, a 533-pound, 9 foot and 8 inch long great white shark at the time, pinged on Jan. 28, 2019 west of Key West and pinged even closer on Feb. 27, 2019 at 5:15 a.m. 
(Credit: Robert Snow 2018, Robert Snow via OCEARCH)

Followed by tiger and bull sharks, white sharks (sometimes called great white sharks) have been the aggressors in 177 documented attacks, 34% of which were fatal.

Bull sharks tallied the second-most bites, with 175 attacks and an 18% kill rate. Tiger sharks attack less than bulls (125 total) but kill more frequently (30%). The attacking species, however, is typically not known (692 reports).

No fatalities were reported in the next five species of biting sharks: blacktip reef shark, nurse shark, spinner shark, the bronze whaler and the lemon shark, according to the file.

Sandtiger sharks (three documented attacks with one being fatal) and mako sharks (11 attacks and an 18% fatality rate) are rare biters of humans but are also quite dangerous.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the least likely sharks to bite you are: whitetip sharks, dog sharks, juvenile sharks, porbeagle sharks and the dusky shark (all with 1 documented attack).

Florida's East Coast has the most shark bites

The East Coast of Florida is one of the most visited and enjoyed stretches of beach in the world, and more people in shark territory equals more bites.

Attacks on the map are marked with a shark fin, a white one for non-fatal and a red one for a fatal attack.

There are so many fin markers on the East Coast of the Sunshine State that they're practically stacked on top of each other.

But the bites stop near the Georgia line, and they don't pick up again until the beaches of South Carolina.

South Africa is downright dangerous

The southernmost tip of Africa is home of one of the world's great populations of white sharks, and the fatality statistics from show that these waters are dangerous for surfers and swimmers.

While only three people have been killed by sharks in the shark attacks capital of the world, it seems that most attacks in South Africa are fatal.

A look at other shark attack numbers

A total of 1,218 shark bites and attacks have been recorded in the past 47 years worldwide, with approximately 14% of those being fatal.

The vast majority of bites are unprokoved (94%) while a small number of attacks (6%) are provoked.

One thousand respondents were asked if they would be willing to be bitten by a shark, and 15% of respondents said they would indeed agree to be attacked by a shark if it turned out to be a "cool story," but that's only if they have no permanent injuries.

Globally, about 10 people are attacked and killed by sharks each year, while falling coconuts kill around 150 people.

Connect with this reporter: Chad Gillis on Facebook.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Florida, global shark attacks over past 50 years shown on new site