Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2009 September 12

World’s top shark attack beaches

Thomas Kohnstamm

ForbesTraveler.com

World’s top shark attack beaches

Uncommon, but they happen – around the globe

A school of hammerheads (Image © Yves Lefebre/AP/PA)

Are your dreams haunted by big, slippery sharks with dead-black eyes? When you see a body of water, do you instantly imagine razor-toothed monsters lurking below the surface, ready to take a delectable bite out of your arm or leg? If you get up the nerve to go in the water, do you wait – heart pounding in your throat – for that ominous dorsal fin to break the surface, signaling the arrival of your mortal enemy?

If so, you should probably re-evaluate your fears. On an average day at the beach, you have a much better chance of being killed by lightning, sun exposure, a falling coconut or a collapsing sand hole dug in the beach by an ambitious 10-year-old (not to mention the most common causes of death at the beach: old fashioned drowning or car crashes somewhere between your front door and the parking lot).

It is undeniable that we are out of our element and all the more helpless in water. That is a huge part of our fear of sharks. It is also the fault of Jaws and numerous cable television shows with unnerving soundtracks and graphic re-staged attack footage featuring gallons of fake blood in the water. The shark clearly has a PR problem.

But humans also recognize the shark as one of the planet’s most evolved predators: a nearly flawless stalking and killing machine. Fortunately for us, it is only when one of its flaws occurs that a shark opts to bite a bony and nutrition-poor human. As Tasmania-based surfer Gerhard Mausz says: “We’re not on top of the menu when it comes to the shark diet, and when surfers or swimmers get attacked it is almost always an accident.”

A grey reef shark (Image © AP)

“Of the more than 400 shark species in the world,” states the International Shark Attack File, based at the Florida Museum of Natural History, “only about 30 types are known to have attacked humans.” And only three have a reputation for the highest number of “unprovoked” attacks: great whites, tiger sharks and bull sharks.

Regardless, all sharks are to be treated with caution and lethal attacks do occur. Sources differ as to which of the three regions—Northern California, Australia or South Africa—holds the record for the highest number of attacks. New Smyrna Beach in Florida claims that largest number of attacks at a single beach.

This list takes us thorough northern California to South Africa’s eastern coastline – from Cape Town and on to Durban. Our quest also takes us to the popular east coast beaches of Australia, the reefs off the coast of north-eastern Brazil and a few other surprise destinations.

Read the list and learn about the world’s most shark-infested beaches. But remember not to get too scared, because stress can lead to heart problems, and that has a 750,000 times better chance of getting you than a shark.

Hong Kong, China

© Robert Harding Picture Library Ltd / Alamy

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong’s beaches have had zero shark attacks in the last few years. So why does it make the list? After a series of fatal attacks in 1995, Hong Kong Authorities erected an elaborate system of nets to block the predators from entering the city’s swimming beaches. Attacks have been prevented recently, but who knows what evil lurks beyond the nets?

Tigris River, Iran

© David Fleetham / Alamy

Tigris River, Iran

We’ve got a bit of bad news: Bull sharks can swim miles up fresh water rivers in search of prey. Although the incidence of shark attacks in Iran has slowed as of late, this is still the shark attack capital of the Middle East. This freshwater phenomenon has even inspired a marine biology Ph.D. or two.

Bolinas Beach, Northern California

© DLILLC/Corbis

Bolinas Beach, Northern California

The tiny enclave of Bolinas Beach is on a secluded bay just north of San Francisco in Marin Country. Like its neighbors Stinson Beach and Point Reyes, Bolinas is located right in the middle of the Red Triangle: a region marked by its high density of great white sharks.

Kosi Bay, South Africa

© 2005 GettyImages

Kosi Bay, South Africa

Located in KwaZulu Natal, just off the border of Mozambique in a dramatically beautiful corner of South Africa, Kosi Bay is a series of four lakes that connect to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Bull sharks frequently make hunting missions into Kosi Bay in search of food.

Cocos Island, Costa Rica

© Jeff Rotman/ Getty Images

Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Cocos Island, off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (a.k.a. the island that inspired the dinosaur haven in Jurassic Park and arguably Robinson Crusoe’s island), has one of the greatest congregations of sharks in the world. Swarming schools of hammerheads gather at Cocos Island like pigeons at the Vatican.

Recife, Brazil

© 2005 GettyImages

Recife, Brazil

Recife, a striking beachside city on Brazil’s northeast coast, is home to an offshore reef that attracts both surfers and a number of sharks. Recife natives, such as Diogo Bezerra, say, “the natural beauty and culture make Recife’s beaches worth a visit – even if you don’t venture too far into the water.”

Vava'u Islands, Tonga, South Pacific

© Darryl Torckler/ Getty Images

Vava’u Islands, Tonga, South Pacific

This small island group belonging to Tonga had no known history of attacks, but the waters recently claimed the life of a 24-year-old American Peace Corp Volunteer. Such attacks show how changes in the oceans are forcing sharks to search out new territory in their quest for food.

© F.Bettex ? Mysterra.org / Alamy

"Shark Alley," Gansbaai, South Africa

"Shark Alley" is a narrow channel between two small islands off the coast of Gansbaai, a charming fishing village and holiday destination east of Cape Town. It is also home to one of the greatest populations of great whites in the world and is, therefore, a top world destination for cage diving.

Brisbane, Australia

© BRUCE COLEMAN INC. / Alamy

Brisbane, Australia

Australia’s coastal waters are filled with swimmers, surfers and, unfortunately, sharks of all sorts. While the highest numbers of attacks occur along the east coast with its larger cities and high beach traffic, they can happen anywhere. Brisbane has warmer water and tends to attract a few more pointers (great whites).

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

© ASSOCIATED PRESS

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

What do you get when you mix divine sub-tropical Florida weather with easily accessible white-sand beaches? Correct: tons of tourists. And what do you get when you mix all of these tourists with a huge population of blacktip and spinner sharks? Correct again: "Shark attack capital of the world."

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