Few animals instill quite the same fear as sharks. As if not already considered menacing, the Jaws movies of the 1970s further consolidated their reputation as a man eater. The story, about a giant great white shark that terrorises a seaside community paralyzed the moviegoers with fear, with the tagline of the movie-“Don’t go in the water”, still etched in the minds of many!
Ever wondered which sharks are the deadliest, which have the most sinister personality? Although many types of sharks are well equipped to inflict serious injury; with row upon row of razor sharp teeth, yet the records of miscellaneous shark attacks reveal that only a few species habitually attack people and that many of the other shark species need provoking before they will bite. According to latest shark attack statistics and journal reports of recent shark-caused fatalities, presented below is a list of the top 10 deadliest species. Let’s go on a deep-sea journey with the most notorious underwater killers!
10. Hammerhead Shark
This shark’s unusual name comes from the unusual shape of its head,. This shark’s distinctive head is designed for greater agility and panoramic vision, making the hammerhead a hunter to be reckoned with. The hammerhead also has special sensors across its head that helps it scan for food in the ocean. Although their favorite meal is stingrays, the hammerheads also eat bony fishes, crabs, squid, lobsters, and other sea creatures. They have very impressive triangular, serrated teeth—like the edge of a saw’s blade. It can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) in length and weigh up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg), although smaller sizes are more common. Most hammerhead species are fairly small and are considered harmless to humans. However, the great hammerhead’s enormous size and fierceness make it potentially dangerous, though few attacks have been recorded.
9. Blacktip Shark
The Blacktip Reef Shark gets its name from its characteristic pointed snout and black tips on its dorsal and caudal fins. It has a short, round snout and angled, saw-like teeth. The predator’s white belly and dark back allows it to camouflage with the dim seafloor and the bright ocean surface. It prefers shallow waters and has been spotted swimming just a few meters deep near reefs and drop-off zones. This shark species is at most 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) in length, but is usually closer to 1.6 meters (5 feet). They weigh about 130 kilograms (286 pounds) as adults. Blacktip sharks are not generally regarded as being very dangerous to humans owing to their size. But they are frequent attackers, making up the highest percentage of shark attacks in Florida.
8. Sand Tiger Shark
The Sand Tiger Shark derives its name from its tendency towards shoreline habitats, and is often seen trolling the ocean floor in the surf zone, very close to shore. Sand tigers are the only shark known to come to the surface and gulp air. They store the air in their stomachs, which allows them to maintain buoyancy and helps them in seeking prey. The sand tiger shark grows to around 3.2 meters (11 feet) in length and can weigh up to 160 kilograms (350 pounds). The physical appearance of a sand tiger shark goes against this species deepening the many prejudices which people tend to have about sharks. They are large in size with a mouthful of permanently visible protruding spike-like teeth. Despite their frightening appearance, sand tiger sharks are harmless animals but in rare cases, bites to swimmers have occurred and aggression towards divers carrying speared fish has also been reported. The sand tiger shark is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
7. Blue shark
Named for their distinct blue color that fades to a crisp white underside, blue sharks are large sleek sharks with long, pointed fins, a pointed snout, and large eyes. Their sleek tapered body makes them graceful swimmers. Blue sharks grow to be up to 4 meter long, averaging 3.35 meters, and can weigh up to 205.9 kilograms. These sharks are opportunistic feeders. Their slender-tipped teeth enable them to grasp slippery-bodied prey, including their favorite meal: squid. Although blue sharks are not overly aggressive, they are not shy either; however the known attacks have been the result of the shark feeling threatened or biting after a human capture of the shark. Blue sharks are near threatened due to over-fishing and shark fining.
6. Bronze Whaler Shark
Named for its bronze, or sometimes greyish-bronze upper side, this is a large shark with blunt, broad snouts and narrow bent cusps on the upper teeth. Due to its habit of congregating around the carcasses of harpooned whales hanging along the side of whaling boats, it came to be known as ‘whaler’ in the nineteenth century. This species feeds on pelagic (open water) and bottom bony fishes, cephalopods, smaller sharks, and rays. The narrow tooth Bronze Whaler shark reaches a maximum of 3.25 meters in length and weighs a maximum of 305 kilograms. This powerful and fast shark species is considered to be a dangerous, and there have been a few provoked and unprovoked attacks on swimmers, divers and particularly spear fishermen . It has been classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.
5. Shortfin Mako
The shortfin mako’s common name is derived from the Maori term mako, which translated means “shark”. This classically shaped shark is incredibly hydrodynamic from its pointed snout to its triangular dorsal fin and large, crescent tailfin, which makes them legendary swimmers. Due to its distinct coloration, that is, a dark metallic blue on top and silvery white below, the shark is easily recognizable. Their average size is 10 feet long and 300 pounds, but they have been caught at well over 12 feet and 1,000 pounds. Because the shortfin mako is an impressive apex predator, and the fastest shark, clocking speeds of 20 mph, they make an extremely prized gamefish. Shortfin mako’s power, aggressiveness, teeth and great speed, make it a danger to humans. This shark species has been blamed for a number of nonfatal and fatal attacks on humans. Divers who have encountered shortfin makos note that they swim in a figure eight pattern and approach with mouths open prior to an attack. Shortfin makos frequently damage boats and injure fishers after being hooked. Humans, however, put a far greater dent on the shark’s population, due to demand for their meat, fins and hide.
4. Oceanic Whitetip
Oceanic whitetip sharks are large stocky sharks with huge, rounded first dorsal fins with blunt and rounded snouts with broadly triangular upper teeth. Such teeth afford the Oceanic Whitetip a very broad dietary spectrum, befitting an opportunistic open ocean predator. They grow up to 4 meters in total length with a maximum weight of 168 kilograms and an age of 22 years. This shark is potentially the most dangerous after great whites, tiger, and bull sharks, especially for open-ocean divers. This species is likely responsible for open-ocean attacks following air or sea disasters. The deep-water shark with a sharp sense of smell can be very aggressive and unpredictable in the presence of potential prey.
3. Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks are named for the dark, vertical stripes found mainly on juveniles. As these sharks mature, the lines begin to fade and almost disappear. The tiger shark commonly attains a length of 3.25–4.25 meters and weighs around 385–635 kg. These large, blunt-nosed predators have a duly earned reputation as man-eaters. They are second only to great whites in attacking people. But because they have a near completely undiscerning palate, they are not likely to swim away after biting a human, as great whites frequently do. They are consummate scavengers, with excellent senses of sight and smell and a nearly limitless menu of diet items. These solitary, mostly nocturnal hunters have sharp, highly serrated teeth and powerful jaws that allow them to crack the shells of sea turtles and clams. The tiger shark’s reputation as an indiscriminate eater that will swallow anything it finds, including garbage, has earned it the nickname “wastebasket of the sea.”
2. Bull Shark
Bull sharks get their name from their stout appearance and pugnacious reputation and a tendency to head-butt their prey before attacking. Bull sharks are aggressive and the fact that they can live in both seawater and freshwater, makes them one of the best known shark species. Bull sharks are very robust-bodied and average between 200 and 290 pounds, and grow to about 7.5 to 8 feet long. Their sheer strength, unpredictability and extremely territorial nature, makes the species number two on the list of most dangerous sharks in the world when it comes to attacks on humans. Humans are not, per se, on their menus. However, they frequent the turbid waters of estuaries and bays, and often attack people inadvertently or out of curiosity.
1. Great White Shark
The name “white shark” is thought to have come from the species’ universal all-white belly. They can be identified by their gray skin, white bellies, bullet-shaped bodies and rows of up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth. Great whites are the largest predatory fish on Earth. They grow to an average of 15 feet (4.6 meters) in length, though specimens exceeding 20 feet (6 meters) and weighing up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) have been recorded. Great White Sharks have an exceptional sense of smell to detect prey. They can detect one drop of blood in 25 gal (100 L) of water and can sense even tiny amounts of blood in the water up to 3 mi (5 km) away. Of the 100-plus annual shark attacks worldwide, fully one-third to one-half is attributable to great whites. However, most of these are not fatal, and new research finds that great whites, who are naturally curious, are “sample biting” then releasing their victims rather than preying on humans. It’s not terribly comforting, but it does indicate that humans are not actually on the great white’s food spectrum. According to the IUCN, great white sharks are vulnerable, which generally means they are likely to become endangered unless circumstances improve with respect t overfishing and accidental catching in gill nets.