How Many People Have Died From Shark Attacks?

February 4, 2024

A pair of fatal shark attacks has brought renewed attention to media depictions of the animals, but sharks are actually responsible for far less carnage than you might expect. The University of Florida, which maintains the International Shark Attack File, says that people are only slightly more likely to be killed by sharks than by lightning strikes. Lightning kills an average of 19 people each year, while unprovoked shark attacks cause about five deaths a year worldwide.

The Museum notes that most shark attacks don’t lead to death—the victim is usually bitten and survives, or the animal is killed or wounded during the encounter. But it’s important to remember that sharks are far more afraid of humans than vice versa. In fact, cows and bees kill more people each year than sharks do.

You’re also 30 times more likely to die by falling coconut than you are to be killed by a shark. Of course, it’s important to note that vending machine deaths aren’t well-documented and may underreport the true number of casualties.

It’s also worth noting that annual fluctuations in shark-human interactions are common, and despite the lull this year, long-term trends still show that shark bite deaths are decreasing. In 2022, there were 57 documented unprovoked shark attacks worldwide, which is in line with the recent five-year average of 70 incidents. The majority of those attacks were in the US, where surfers and boarders were most likely to be attacked.


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