There are thousands of sharks worldwide, each playing an essential role in the ecosystem. As apex predators, sharks keep the balance and health of ocean life while they feed on the unwell and shift their prey’s habitat.
Sharks single-handedly and indirectly maintain coral reef habitats. Due to a reduction in shark populations over the past few decades, the world has suffered a loss in commercial fisheries and a decline in seagrass beds and coral reefs.
Many species of sharks have rapidly declined in population due to overfishing for fins and meat.
Nearly half of the world’s sharks face endangerment because of the lack of monitoring of the control of illegal fishing and overfishing.
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Great White Sharks
The great white shark is thought to have evolved from the giant and most potent shark in history – the megalodon.
Weighing at 2.5 tons and growing more than 20 feet long, the great white is born along the east and west coasts of North America and Southwest Australia.
Great white sharks have a fantastic sense of smell as they can smell blood up to a third of a kilometer away, which makes them prestige hunters.
While the great is among the largest shark species, their predators are the orca whale which has decreased in population due to orcas and human fisheries.
Though a human isn’t the great white’s first choice of prey, they are the most hostile shark species, responsible for almost half of all shark attacks per year. Great whites have been recorded to kill roughly 52 humans and a total of 333 official attacks.
Provided with this evidence, the great white shark tops the list of the most dangerous sharks in North America.
Next on the scale of most dangerous sharks, the tiger shark is a close second to the great white, killing 36 humans with an unprovoked attack on 138 people in history.
The tiger shark gets its name from the unmistakable dark stripes alongside its 14-foot body and can weigh up to 2000 pounds. Tiger sharks are confrontational species and will attack out of curiosity, which is why they fall second to the great white.
Tiger sharks prefer tropical and temperate regions where water is warm, though they have been spotted in waters up to 140m deep.
One of the primary reasons tiger sharks are considered most aggressive is that they’ll feed on almost anything, whether small fish, crustaceans, birds, or other small or large mammals.
Although the bull shark is not the largest or toughest shark among its cousins, their bite force makes them dangerous, having a 6,000-newton bite force (1,300-pound bite force). Humans have a bite force of only 250 pounds compared to humans.
The bull shark ranks at number 3 because if they bite or attack a human, they’ll release and likely swim away after realizing that’s not what they were after.
Sand Tiger Sharks
Aside from the above sharks, the sand tiger ranks the fourth most dangerous shark worldwide because although they’ve attacked people (36 unprovoked attacks), none were fatal.
Of the 36 official attacks, the statistics show that sand tigers aren’t a threat to human life as they prefer to stay away and attack based on threat or mistake.
The sand tiger shark gets its name from their behavior, as they migrate close to shorelines, though they reside all over the world in warm waters. Sand tiger sharks are small compared to their cousins, weighing in at 600 pounds and maturing at less than 15 feet long.
Although the sand tiger shark looks frightening, with their pronounced and sharp jagged teeth, they prefer to stick to prey smaller than them, mainly squid and bony fish.
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). The Wobbegong shark has attacked 31 humans, though none have been recorded as fatal.
A wobbegong shark will attack only if a human accidentally steps on one or swims too close.
Wobbegong sharks closely resemble sting rays and are bottom feeders who prey on small octopuses, crabs, lobsters, and invertebrates.
The wobbegong blends in with the ocean floor and is difficult to spot, but most human attacks have been due to their poor sight and mistaken limbs for small fish. You can spot a wobbegong shark in the Eastern Indian Ocean, Southern and Western Australia, and Japan or South China Sea.
Hammerhead sharks are among nine species, the biggest reaching up to 20 feet and weighing over 500 pounds, known as the great hammerhead.
Hammerhead sharks are widely recognized for their hammer-shaped head and are the sixth most dangerous shark due to only 18 human attacks in history – none of which were fatal.
The hammerhead shark mainly feeds on catfish, squid, crabs, and other sharks across the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coasts of Florida.
Although hammerheads aren’t hunted often, their primary predator becomes the orca or ‘Killer Whale.’
The spinner shark falls in seventh place for the most dangerous shark on Earth as they’ve attacked only 16 humans with no fatalities.
Often mistaken for blacktip sharks, the spinner got its name for its distinctive hunting character. When hunting, the spinner shark will spin alongside their prey and has been seen jumping 20 feet above the water’s surface, spinning in the air.
Spinner sharks are much larger than blacktip sharks, reaching a maximum length of 9 feet long, but have been mistaken for the blacktip due to their appearance.
The spinner also has a black mark on the tip of its anal fin, which is why they’re mistaken for the blacktip shark.
Bronze Whaler Sharks
Bronze whaler sharks are small and docile yet make the most dangerous list landing the eighth place because they’re on record for attacking 15 humans.
Bronze whalers get their name from their distinctive color pattern, with olive-gray to bronze on the top half of their body and a white underbelly.
Bronze whaler sharks prey on schooling fish near offshore islands along the coast of South Africa and would only attack humans if they felt their food was being taken.
However, this shark species is not overly aggressive and will only harm if threatened.
Much like the behavior of the bronze whaler shark, the blue shark is primarily harmless and will only attack if they feel its prey is threatened or its food is being taken.
However, the blue shark makes the list of the most dangerous sharks because, throughout history, they have attacked nine humans with no fatalities.
Blue sharks get their name from their vibrant blue color and are elongated in size, reaching up to 10 feet long and weighing 240 pounds. They can be seen just under the water’s surface, sticking their dorsal and caudal fins out of the water.
Blue sharks are known to be migratory species and can be found worldwide.
Blacktip sharks like shallow, clear water and are small compared to other sharks weighing 55 pounds and maturing at 5 feet long.
Though the blacktip shark seems small, they make the most dangerous list because they are on record for attacking 41 humans with no fatalities. Likewise, the blacktip reef shark has attacked 14 humans with no fatalities.
If a blacktip shark feels threatened, it’ll create warning signs such as turning away, rolling side to side, tilting its head and tail upwards, lowering its pectoral fins, and swimming head-on towards the threat.
However, it is unlikely that a blacktip shark will attack a human unless provoked; they are not naturally aggressive. Blacktips will feed on shrimp, crabs, squid, and other smaller fish spotted near shorelines.
Oceanic Whitetip Sharks
The oceanic whitetip shark gets its name from having white tips on each fin and resides in the ocean’s open waters.
The whitetip shark is a giant shark that has killed three humans while attacking 12 people on record, mainly due to mistaken identity.
Although found in open water, the whitetip shark stays close to the surface of the ocean in subtropical waters, feeding mainly on pelagic species.
Though not extinct or threatened, oceanic whitetip sharks are hunted for famous whitefin soup in foreign countries.
Shortfin Mako Sharks
Like the oceanic whitetip shark, the shortfin mako shark lives in the open ocean and is quite significant of the shark species weighing 1200 pounds and maturing at 12 feet long.
The mako shark makes the most dangerous shark list because it has attacked ten humans resulting in 1 fatality.
Shortfins are also migratory and feed on tuna, squid, small marine mammals, and other sharks.
Unlike other sharks, the mako relies solely on hearing, scent, and vision to hunt prey and is said to have the second most substantial bite in the world (3000 pounds bite force), next to the crocodile.
Nurse sharks are docile, non-threatening predators regardless of their attack history – 9 attacks, no fatalities.
This is why nurse sharks are the last on the list of most dangerous sharks, as they are mostly friendly and have swam with humans as a tourism event.
Nurse sharks do not get bigger than 15 feet long and weigh about 300 pounds at maturation, though they remain motionless, residing on sea floors around the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Nurse sharks feed on smaller prey, including crustaceans, mollusks, and sea snails.