The probability of Being Bitten by a Shark: Shark Attack Odds

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The probability of Being Bitten by a Shark

Find out about shark attack odds around the globe and whether you should be concerned about the chances of shark attack occurrences.

Table of contents

  1. Shark Attack Odds
  2. Odds of Shark Attack per Location
  3. Shark Attack Odds in Comparison
  4. How to Lower the Shark Attack Odds

Shark Attack Odds

Shark Attack Odds photo

The odds of getting bit by a shark are 1 in 3.758.067 or a bit over 0.00002%. While this is the general probability, several aspects will affect shark attack odds.

Shark-related events are low

It is safe to say that the overall chances for shark-related events are low when considering the entire global population. However, some specific communities may still maintain some level of concern. New Zealand is one of those countries that has seen some fatalities tied to sharks. Thus, residents may find it justifiable to fear the event.

However, to understand how small the chances for such occurrences are, you are 3314 more likely to die from drowning than you would be to be munched on by a great white shark on a trip to the beach.

And speaking of great whites, another myth worth deconstructing is that all sharks are dangerous for humans. Species of sharks vary in aggressivity, while some types of sharks show no risk towards humans or any mammals at that.

Chances of Being Bitten by a Shark Vary by Species

  1. Great White Sharks: 333 in total
  2. Tiger Sharks: 131
  3. Bull Sharks: 117
  4. Requiem Sharks: 44
  5. Blacktip Sharks: 41 incidents, non-fatal
  6. Sand Tiger Sharks: 36, non-fatal
  7. Wobbegong Sharks: 18, non-fatal
  8. Spinner Sharks: 16, non-fatal
  9. Hammerheads: 16, non-fatal
  10. Bronze Whalers: 15
  11. Oceanic Whitetip Sharks: 15
  12. Blacktip Reef Sharks: 14, non-fatal
  13. Blue Sharks: 13
  14. Lemon Sharks: 10, non-fatal
  15. Nurse Sharks: 9, non-fatal
  16. Grey Reef & Shortfin Mako Sharks: 9
  17. Sandbar, Sevengill & Whitetip Reef Sharks: 5
  18. Caribbean Reef, Cookiecutter, Spotted Wobbegong Sharks: 4, non-fatal
  19. Mako Sharks: 3 non-fatal
  20. Silky, Porbeagle Sharks: 2 non-fatal
  21. Galapagos, Dusky Sharks: 2 incidents. One fatal
  22. Dusky, Port Jackson, Guitarfish & Leopard Sharks: one non-fatal incident each

Division Between Fatal and Non-Fatal Events

Division Between Fatal and Non-Fatal Events

Chances of Shark Attack Deaths

Official sources cite the number of unprovoked shark attacks between 1958 and 2018 to be 2785, with 439 fatalities. Thus, the odds of fatal shark encounters are about 15.763%

That is the case only in the event of having been attacked. Generally, your average individual has about 0.0000042% odds for a death by shark during one’s life.

We can play devil’s advocate and further see which species prove the deadliest among the bunch.

Fatality Odds by Species

Fatality Odds by Species

While the death rates for meeting these predators may seem concerning in some instances, keep in mind that most species have only been implicated in a few and statistically irrelevant events.

In other words, if you were to bet in online casinos on which encounter with a species will result in a death, you would probably opt for Galapagos or Dusky. However, the number of incidents with these variants is so low that we cannot know the outcome probabilities. In all events, you are better to bet on blue, great white, or tiger species.

Odds Of Shark Attack Events Resulting in Limb-Loss

We additionally know that the chances of shark-related injuries that involve the loss of a limb are 7%, with 42% of events involving injuries and the loss of legs.

The activity you are engaging in when accosted by sharks will also play a role in which body parts you endanger.

Limbs in Risk Depending on Seaside Activity

  • Swimming – arms and legs
  • Surfing – legs
  • Diving – torso, head, and lower legs.

Fun fact

Wave surfers are specifically at risk, since the board can resemble the belly of a seal to most marine predators.

Odds of Shark Attack per Location

A more exact way of figuring out the shark attack odds that you should care about is arrived at by considering the locations where they most frequently occur.

In New Zealand

Since 1580, New Zealand has faced 53 such recorded unprovoked attacks. The distribution of their occurrence is homogenous, and it greatly depends on the regions:

Number of Incidents Involving Sharks, per Region

  • Oakland – 8
  • Waikato – 1
  • Gisborne District – 1
  • Taranaki – 3
  • Wellington – 4
  • Marlborough District – 2
  • Canterbury – 4
  • West Coast – 2
  • Otago – 10
  • Southland – 6

The other events occurred in maritime areas that cannot be reasonably associated with either New Zealander region.

Map of Occurrence in New Zealand

Map of Occurrence in New Zealand

Odds Of Shark Attack Occurrences for a New Zealander

Clinton Duffy, a shark expert from the New Zealander Department of Conservation, states the rate of occurrence of such incidents as one or two per year. Hence, the expert deems it very low, the same being true for resulting fatalities.

In more exact terms, given the current New Zealand population, the probability of being a victim of an attack as a citizen is about 0.00002% in any one year. Surprisingly, although the island nation has seen more events than most countries, the probability is just the same.

Chances of Shark Attack Events Worldwide

  1. America – 1516
  2. Australia – 670
  3. South Africa – 255
  4. Brazil – 107
  5. New Zealand – 53
  6. Papua New Guinea – 48
  7. Reunion Island – 47
  8. Mexico – 41
  9. Bahama Islands – 33
  10. Iran – 23
  11. Fiji Islands – 23

Incidents Across the World Map

Incidents Across the World Map
While New Zealand is witness to some instances, its neighbour, Australia, sees more events and higher probabilities of being attacked. Up to date, there have been around 645 confirmed occurrences, 259 of which prove fatal.

This is aggravating since despite the US being the top location for shark-related incidents, with 1105 such events, only 36 of them resulted in a death. Additionally, New Zealand’s neighbour has seen its last fatality as recently as this year.

Odds of Shark Attack Fatalities in the US and Australia

Odds of Shark Attack Fatalities in the US and Australia

Shark Attack Odds in Comparison

Are sharks the ones you should think about? Experts would beg to differ, as, despite the gruesome implications of such an event, it still proves unlikely to ever occur in your lifetime.

Additionally, several sources cite comparisons with life-threatening hazards that should be of greater concern when contrasted with the slim odds for these beasts attacking.

Odds of Shark Attack Events Vs Other Animals

Mosquitoes are quoted to have caused around 750000 deaths annually since 2018, mainly through carrying various transmissible diseases, like malaria. Snakes, too, racked up a staggering 100000 average body count within the same period.

Human’s Friends and Fellows

The human's best friends, dogs, have also been responsible for around 35000 casualties.

However, your fellow human holds the second spot for the deadliest creature with 437000 annual deaths caused.

Unlikely Killers

Shark attack odds are even topped by seemingly harmless creatures, such as snails, that cause on average 20000 deaths annually. Freshwater snails carry parasitic worms that can infect people with schistosomiasis. Its effects are unpleasant, to say the least.

However lower, roundworms, tapeworms, or even the ominous-sounding assassin bugs racked up death counts that go into thousands or tens of thousands.

As far as water killers are concerned, crocodiles are a much better candidate for the apex predator, with its 1000 annual deaths towering over the meagre probabilities for water predators attacking.

Sharks Compared to Other Marine Animals

Sharks Compared to Other Marine Animals

Surely, sharks remain the deadly champs of the open seas. Or so you would think. Our dear dying oceans are filled to the brim with dangerous (and mystifyingly odd) creatures.

  • Stingrays


The stingray has gained renown for its potential deadly danger, following the death of famed TV personality Steve Irwin. The Aussie superstar was stung by one of these beasts, an event that quickly resulted in his unfortunate demise.

  • Flower Urchin’

Flower Urchin

This being is where natural beauty meets deadly danger. The flower urchin can inject humans with highly toxic venom. So dangerous it is that it earned the Deadliest Sea Urchin moniker in the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records.

  • Electric Eel

Electric Eel

MGMT make being shocked by an electric eel sound fun and enticing. However, the current discharged by this 6000-electrolyte-containing sea serpent is nothing of the sort. The electric current generated as a defensive (and in other contexts courting) measure can prove deadly for non-electricity-producing animals.

  • Textile Cone Snail

Textile Cone Snail

This puny creature, too, packs a punch. Its radular teeth can puncture a human's skin and inject a dose of concentrated toxin. Its effects are paralysis and eventually death. Considering this fact, if you are ever being put in the position of choosing between being circled by great whites or stung by a cone snail, you now know which one to go for.

  • Blue-Ringed Octopus

Blue-Ringed Octopus

Octopi are another class of scary sea critters, with tall tales of gargantuan Krakens ripping ships into shreds being yesterday's sailors' favourites.

However, size is not the issue here. This tiny and albeit cute octopus produces a toxin 1000 times stronger than cyanide.

  • Sea Snakes

Sea Snakes

Both the Dubois and beaked sea snakes are venom-filled vicious predators. The beaked species, for instance, can inject six times the amount of venom necessary to kill a human through a single bite. Beyond their danger, their length and girth make them animals you do not wish to encounter while having a snorkelling session in Thailand or Australia.

Chances Of Shark Attack Deaths Vs Other Causes

  • Disease

The 1 in 6 chances of dying from heart-related morbidity puts the probability of being gored by these water predators to shame. Cancer is a close second with its staggering 1 in 7 chances of ending the sufferer's life.

  • Lightning and Cataclysmic Storm

The chances of sharks attacking you, both fatally and non-fatally, are trumped by the quite deadly odds of being struck by lightning. These amount to 1 in 138849.

A cataclysmic storm can also put an end to one’s life, with the odds of this happening being 1 in 58669, still 64 times likelier than a shark attacking you.

  • Sunstrokes

It turns out, sharks should not be the biggest concern when at the beach. As pleasant as it is, the sun can also prove to be a killer. There is a 1 in 8248 chance that a sunstroke will be a beachgoer’s demise.

For context, the probability is over 455 times higher than the cited odds for sharks attacking. And remember that the latter also includes non-fatal encounters.

  • Preventable Causes

The odds of dying from preventable causes are 1 in 24. As vague as it may sound, the preventable qualifier is important.

While an encounter with a great white may seem like the hand of fate waving you goodbye, the chances for sharks attacking would indicate that one's dismay will come from a mundane yet preventable cause. Isn't that sad?

How to Lower the Shark Attack Odds

  1. Do not lose the shark out of sight.
  2. Staying calm and averting from making hasty or sudden moves improve your survival odds.
  3. Proceed slowly to land or the boat without turning your back on it.
  4. Try finding cover such as a rock when diving.
  5. Try going into a back-to-back defensive position when not alone.
  6. In a fighting scenario option is hitting sharks in the snout, gills, or the eye.
  7. You do not need to overpower the beast. A well-directed hit will scare it away.
  8. The best escape chances are when you opt to swim smoothly and without great splashing. Use the reverse breaststroke, for instance.


Francisc’s mathematical way of thinking is seen in how he explains gambling rules in an easy-to-understand way. He does more than do arithmetic or solve algebra problems. He can see right away online casino’s fairness, and he teaches users to do the same.

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