Where the Most Shark Attacks Have Occurred in the United States

Written By: Frank Bongiorno

Shark attacks are a concern for many Americans planning to go for a swim in the ocean, but should they be? Using information from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), SI Yachts visually mapped out the number of shark attacks that have happened in the United States over the years and the states and counties where they most commonly occur. Although the United States accounts for more than half of all of the shark attacks in the world, 2020 saw a large decrease in the number of shark attacks overall with half the number of annual attacks that happened between 2014-16.

Which state has the most shark attacks? The states with the most shark attacks ever recorded are Florida, Hawaii, California, and the Carolinas. Florida is known as the "shark attack capital of the world" and accounts for more than half of the total shark attacks in the United States each year. However, shark attacks in Florida have decreased by half in the past few years, with just 16 attacks reported in 2020.

Don't let the fear of a shark attack keep you from enjoying the ocean, though, as there are many other things that have a better chance of killing you than a shark. Did you know that cows kill an average of 20 Americans a year, while sharks only kill one?

Where Are the Most Shark Attacks in the U.S.?

The most shark attacks are in the state of Florida, and the majority of those attacks occur in Volusia County, which has the most shark attacks ever recorded, 320. Brevard County, Florida, was the county with the second-highest number of shark attacks ever recorded, with 153. Of the 30 U.S. counties with the most shark attacks, 12 are located in Florida.

The 10 U.S. Counties With the Most Shark Attacks Ever Recorded

  1. Volusia County, FL: 320
  2. Brevard County, FL: 153
  3. Palm Beach County, FL: 80
  4. Maui County, HI: 69
  5. Duval County, FL: 46
  6. St. Johns County, FL: 44
  7. Oahu County, HI: 42
  8. Martin County, FL: 39
  9. Charleston County, SC: 36
  10. St. Lucie County, FL: 35

This visual also looks at the number of shark attacks that have occurred in the United States over the past decade, between 2011 and 2020, to see how many shark attacks have been happening in the coastal states. It also details the seven shark attack fatalities that occurred during this time.

The 5 U.S. States With the Most Shark Attacks Between 2011 and 2020

  1. Florida: 236
  2. Hawaii: 73
  3. South Carolina: 43
  4. North Carolina: 32
  5. California: 29

What Is the Likelihood of Being Attacked by a Shark?

How likely are you to get bitten by a shark? Not that likely. With an average of 40 shark attacks in the United States each year and the average shark attack fatality rate at just one per year, plenty of other things have a much better chance of killing a person than a shark attack. Below are just some of the animals and situations that are a bigger threat to Americans than being killed by a shark.

  • Falling out of bed kills 450 people each year.
  • Deer colliding with cars kill 440 people each year.
  • Bees, hornets, and wasps kill 58 people every year.
  • Lightning kills 49 people each year.
  • Dogs kill 40 people each year.
  • Cows kill 20 people each year.
  • Snakes kill five people each year.
  • Vending machine accidents kill two people every year.

How Have Shark Attack Trends Changed Over Time?

We compared the shark attack numbers from 2011 to 2020 to the total number of shark attacks that have been recorded for each state going back to 1837. A large percentage of the total attacks for each state were found to have occurred during the past ten years. Florida shark attacks during this time amounted to 236, which was 27% of their total shark attacks ever recorded. There have been a total of 1,508 shark attacks recorded in the United States, with 30% of them occurring within just the past ten years.

Why are shark attacks on the rise in recent years? The increases have been traced to human destruction of shark's habitats through development and tourism as well as climate change. This human interference forces the sharks closer to shore, where swimmers are, leading to an increase in attacks. If these shark attack trends continue, well, you’re going to need a bigger boat.

"Where the Most Shark Attacks Have Occurred in the United States" is brought to you by SI Yachts, experts in Viking Yachts and Princess Yachts