Shark attacks seem to be on the rise in many parts of the world, and although they are still regarded as rare events, the odds can increase depending on where you swim, surf or boogie board. While humans are at a greater risk from tornadoes and even dog attacks, we just can’t seem to shake our collective fear of the deep and the mighty jaws that lurk somewhere the sea. If you are planning a beach vacation, you might want to steer clear of the following known shark-infested waters. Statistically, these are among the most dangerous beaches for deadly shark attacks.
1. Pernambuco, Brazil
The Brazilian government decided to close 37 miles of pristine beaches to surfers in light of the 18 fatal shark attacks that occurred there since 1992. When they finally decided to lift the ban in 2006, the sharks were there waiting and another surfer fatality occurred. The shockingly high attack rate in these waters appears to be due to over-fishing. Without enough food supply, the sharks have begun to sample other forms of fare to satisfy their relentless hunger.
2. Second Beach, South Africa
With so many great white sharks patrolling this and other nearby surf beaches, it might be healthier to find a nice wave pool instead. Because of its history of attacks and frequent sightings of great whites, the beach is popular among shark-seeking tourists who come to tour the waters by boat. Tour operators dump veritable boatloads of bloody chum in order to entice the great whites to appear, as they are known to breach the water’s surface in this area. You definitely don’t want to surf or swim anywhere near these boats and their chum lines. You’ll welcome a protective cage between you and the toothy predators when venturing in these waters.
3. New Smyrna Beach, Florida
More than 238 shark attacks have been documented at Florida’s (surprisingly) popular New Smyrna Beach. In fact, 15% of worldwide shark bites have occurred here, giving it the nightmarish moniker of “shark bite capital of the world.” Beach goers continue to flock to Volusia County in spite of its high level of attacks. Experts think that the encounters are proportionate to the high numbers of people in the waters here at any given time. Even so, most of the “nibbling bites” are courtesy of baby bull sharks that favor these waters, a species that is one of the most notorious man-eating sharks out there. To date, none of the recorded attacks here have been fatal, but do you want to risk being the first?
4. Velzyland Beach, Hawaii
Located on the island of Oahu, Velzyland Beach features amazing surfing, but its association with tiger sharks should give you pause before you venture out to catch a wave. If the tigers don’t scare you, just consider that there are about 41 different shark species that frequent Hawaii’s waters including other aggressive specimens like bull sharks and great whites. The last fatal shark attack at this beach occurred in 1994 when a tiger shark attacked a surfer. More recent attacks on surfers have been reported, but fortunately their lives were spared.
5. New South Wales, Australia
The beaches of New South Wales, including world-famous Bondi Beach, are associated with more than 170 unprovoked shark attacks (who willfully provokes a shark anyway?) and more than 50 fatal attacks. Great white shark encounters off the beaches of New South Wales are more common than in other parts of the world due to the position of the continental shelf which puts swimmers and surfers in close proximity to the deep waters where these potential predators cruise.
6. Fletcher Cove, California
Second only to Smyrna Beach for most numerous shark attacks in the U.S., Fletcher Cove may be picturesque, but it is also the scene of 142 unprovoked shark attacks, including some recent fatalities. Scientists are convinced that the fish-strewn waters in this region are ideal feeding grounds for large predators like the great white. Located near San Diego, this beach might best be admired while sitting on its golden sands with a cold drink.
7. Reunion Island
A far-flung vacation destination in the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island is a true-blue paradise in terms of sun and sea. However, the waters off this small island are teeming with sharks. More than 10 attacks in a recent two-year period (three were fatal), have prompted island officials to close the beaches to swimmers and surfers. Experts aren’t sure why the sharks are biting people with greater frequency, but culling the waters hasn’t yet convinced all tourists the island’s gorgeous beaches are safe for swimming.
8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
One of the most popular vacation beaches in the U.S., Myrtle Beach and its neighboring coastlines are associated with a high number of shark attacks. Since 2005, there have been more than fifty. In fact, researchers have claimed that South Carolina’s waters are just as dangerous as Florida’s when comparing the swimmer-to-attack ratio. The beaches of Horry County may be beautiful, but their waters are attractive to species like tiger sharks and bull sharks. Are you daring enough to risk a dip?
9. Coffin Bay, Australia
The name says it all. Don’t swim here unless you fancy a meeting with a great white – or two. In fact, recently an abalone diver was attacked and killed by two great white sharks. His body was never recovered. Stick to boating and fishing rather than in-water activities when you’re in this pretty South Australian bay.
10.Surf Beach, California
Located near Santa Barbara, the innocent-sounding Surf Beach is a dangerous place to enjoy water sports. A nineteen-year-old surfer was attacked and killed a few years ago by a great white shark believed to be 18 feet in length. The waters here are home to seals, which attract great whites in large numbers. Granted, not all sharks are bloodthirsty man-eaters, but even curious nips can lead to loss of life or limb. You’re odds improve if you stay out of the waters of these most dangerous beaches.