50+ Statistics on Sharks in Florida: Beaches with Most Attacks and More {2022}

Every year, millions of people visit Florida to enjoy a vacation on its gorgeous coastline. However, what many do not know is that there are also thousands of sharks in Florida residing at those very same beaches! Though shark attacks are incredibly rare, I thought I would share some statistics on sharks in Florida for anyone curious.

This article contains statistics on unprovoked shark attacks by county and species of shark. Most of the data comes from the International Shark Attack File, which has been tracking shark attacks since 1882, but I will note where each shark statistic was found. I have also included some other facts and statistics on landings of sharks in Florida and sharks in aquariums in Florida. Below are over 50 statistics for sharks in Florida beaches, waters, and aquariums, updated for 2022.  

sharks in florida statistics

Statistics on Sharks in Florida Overall

This first section breaks down statistics of sharks in Florida compared to other states and the rest of the world. The International Shark Attack File was referenced for data in all but three of the statistics (noted) below.

  1. Since 1837, there have been 896 confirmed unprovoked attacks by sharks in Florida.
  2. In total, the United States has seen 1,555 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks, with 57.6% of attacks occurring in Florida.
  3. Unprovoked bites have historically happened more by sharks in Florida than in any other state.
  4. In 2021, there were 28 total shark bites in Florida, which accounted for 60% of unprovoked shark attacks in the United States.
  5. There has not been a fatal shark bite in Florida since 2010 in Stuart Beach, Florida.
  6. Since 2012, there have been 761 unprovoked shark attacks in the world.
  7. 259 of those attacks were by sharks in Florida, accounting for 34% of shark attacks worldwide in the last ten years.
  8. Since 2012, there is an average of 29.9 unprovoked attacks by sharks in Florida’s coastal waters per year.
  9. Fossil scales have shown that sharks have been in the ocean for at least 455 million years.
  10. Sharks are moving north due to warmer waters caused by climate change.
florida shark statistics

Sharks in Florida Beaches by County

This next section contains statistics on sharks in Florida by county. The International Shark Attack File has been tracking data regarding locations of shark attacks in Florida since 1926 and I have used these numbers to present the statistics below.

  1. Volusia County has the highest number of attacks by sharks in Florida beaches. Out of 895 recorded, unprovoked shark attacks in Florida, 337 have happened in Volusia County. This accounts for 38% of shark attacks.
  2. Brevard County has the second highest amounts of shark attacks in Florida. 155 shark attacks since 1882 have happened in Brevard County. This accounts for 17% of sharks in Florida beaches where there was an unprovoked attack.
  3. Pinellas County has the most unprovoked attacks of sharks in Florida beaches for the gulf coast. There have been 13 attacks here, accounting for 1% of Florida shark attacks on Tampa Florida beaches.
  4. Regarding Panhandle counties, Bay County has seen the most unprovoked shark attacks. 9 attacks have happened here since 1882, which is also about 1% of shark attacks.
  5. The east coast of Florida is the most likely place for an unprovoked shark attack. Since 1882, 828 or 93% of shark attacks in Florida have occurred on the east coast.
  6. The gulf coast has much fewer sharks on Florida beaches. Only 42 unprovoked shark attacks have happened here in 140 years. This is only 5% of unprovoked Florida shark attacks.
  7. The panhandle is even less likely to encounter sharks in Florida beaches. Only 25 unprovoked shark attacks have happened here, which is about 3% of recorded unprovoked shark attacks in Florida.
  8. Though there are few shark attacks in Venice, Florida, it is the shark tooth capital of the world. Due to a prehistoric fossil layer located near here, head to Brohard Park to find handfuls of shark teeth!
statistics on sharks in florida by county

Species in Florida Beach Shark Attacks Since 1926

Another variable tracked for sharks in Florida is the type of shark. It can be hard for victims and rescue services to determine what type of shark was responsible for the attack, but sometimes the species is known. Here are six statistics on sharks in Florida attacks from the International Shark Attack File.

  1. 36% of unprovoked shark bites since 1926 were too difficult to determine a species of shark and are considered requiem species. The sharks in this category are most likely blacktip sharks, spinner sharks, or sandbar sharks.
  2. Of the 626 unprovoked attacks by sharks in Florida waters, the most commonly identified shark species are the Bull Sharks. It was the attacked in 103 or 16% of Florida shark attacks
  3. The second most commonly identified shark in Florida attacks is the Blacktip shark. However this is in the family Carcharhinidae which is one of the requiem species, so there are likely more blacktips in Florida attacks than this.
  4. The Spinner is the third most common shark species recorded in attack, making up 9% of Florida shark attacks.
  5. Mako Sharks and Blue Sharks are the least common shark species involved in a Florida attack, which each species only making up 1% of Florida shark attacks.
  6. Great White Shark attacks are extremely rare in Florida. Though they do not migrate south in the winter months, they tend to reside in cooler waters. There has never been a Great White Shark fatality in Florida.
see sharks in florida statistics

Chances of an Unprovoked Attack by Sharks in Florida

Next, I will use the data from the International Shark Attack Files to present statistics regarding the most and least common time of year and day for Florida shark attacks. The data records both which month the shark attack occurred and which hour of the day. Victim activity at the time of shark attack has also been recorded since 1900 and statistics on this are also included below.

  1. The most frequent month for an unprovoked attack by sharks in Florida beaches is September. Since 1926, 17% of the 646 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida have happened this month.
  2. August, July, and October are the next most common months for shark attacks with the percentage of attacks occurring at 13%, 12%, and 11% of the time respectively.
  3. January is the least likely month for a shark attack in Florida, with only 6 attacks or 0.9% ever occurring this month of the year.
  4. The most common time of day to be attacked by sharks in Florida is 14:00 to 15:00 (2-3 PM). 72 or 11% of shark attacks in Florida since 1926 happened during that hour.
  5. 11:00 to 12:00 is the second most likely time for unprovoked shark bites to occur, with 62 or 10% of shark attacks in Florida occurring then.
  6. There have only ever been 9 shark attacks in Florida between the hours of 20:00 to 7:00, with the exact time of day not specified.
  7. The most common activity a victim was performing at the time of the attack was “surface recreationist”, meaning surfing, paddleboarding, boogie boarding, or floating on inflatables.
  8. Entering or Exiting the water is the least common activity for a shark attack to occur, with less than 50 shark bites occurring to someone performing that activity since 1926.
  9. It is still extremely rare to be killed by a shark in Florida. Less than 50 fatal shark attacks have been recorded in Florida since the 1800s and many were very unlikely scenarios.
florida shark sightings

Sharks in Florida Aquariums

If you are looking to see sharks safely from behind glass, there are many aquariums and attractions throughout Florida to do so. I have compiled some statistics regarding sharks in Florida aquariums and Orlando theme parks below.

  1. SeaWorld Orlando is probably the best place to see sharks in Florida. Their Shark Encounter exhibit has 50 sharks, including an Australian Leopard Shark and Sand Tiger Sharks. You can see them in the aquarium included with your admission or pay an additional $19 for the up-close tour and feed them.
  2. If you want to go scuba diving with sharks, head to Epcot and try DiveQuest as we did! There are six sharks in the Epcot aquarium, including tiger sharks and black nose sharks and you can also see them in the aquarium included with admission.
  3. Discovery Cove is another great place to swim with sharks. You can add a shark swim on to admission for $169 per person and snorkel with 20 sharks. Species here include blacktips reef, nurse, zebra, and bonnethead sharks.
  4. If you want to swim underwater with sharks, but are not scuba diver certified, the Florida Aquarium offers a SeaTREK for non-divers. Anyone 10 or older can walk underwater with bonnethead sharks, turtles, and rays using a scuba helmet.
  5. Another Orlando aquarium where you can be face-to-face with sharks is the SEALIFE Orlando Aquarium. This aquarium has 6 species of sharks including bonnethead and catsharks in a 360-degree tunnel!
Scuba dive with sharks in florida

Florida Shark Landing Statistics

This final section looks at shark landing statistics (AKA sharks caught fishing). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tracks shark landings by interviewing anglers after their trip. All Florida shark landing statistics in this section were obtained from the FWC website.

  1. Commercial anglers harvested an average of 1,000,000 pounds of shark every year from waters off Florida between 2008 and 2017.
  2. On the east coast, Florida’s recreational anglers harvested an average of 477,000 sharks per year.
  3. The west coast sees even more shark harvests from recreational anglers with an average of 723,000 sharks per year.
  4. Between 2004 and 2017, 10,505,246 sharks were recreationally harvested on the gulf coast of Florida.
  5. The most common identifiable shark species to be caught from Florida’s gulf coast were Black Tip Sharks.
  6. Other harvested types of sharks in Florida’s gulf coast waters include lemon sharks, spinner, tiger shark, dogfish, hammerhead shark, nurse, and more.
  7. On the Atlantic Coast of Florida, 6,666,509 sharks were harvested between 2004 and 207.
  8. The most common identifiable shark species caught on Florida’s Atlantic Coast is the Atlantic Sharpnose, accounting for 22% of sharks harvested from the Atlantic waters.
  9. Other Florida shark species harvested from the Atlantic include blacktip sharks, dusky, bull, sand tiger sharks, shortfin mako, and more.
  10. Feeding sharks while diving or snorkeling is prohibited and boats are not allowed to while divers are in the water.
  11. “Chumming” is not allowed from the beach or while wade fishing.
  12. Anglers that plan to perform shore-based shark fishing, must pass an educational course from FWC and acquire a permit.
  13. The use of multiple hooks is not allowed when fishing for sharks in Florida. Anglers will need to use a non-offset, non-stainless-steel circle hook when using live or dead natural bait.
  14. Anglers are only allowed to catch one shark per day or two per vessel.
  15. There is no size limit for catching the following shark species in Florida – Atlantic Sharp Nose, Black Nose, Black Tip, Bonnet Head, Fine Tooth, Smooth Dogfish, and Florida Smooth-hounds.
  16. There is a 54-inch size limit for fork length only for the following species of sharks in Florida: Bull, Nurse, Spinner, Blue, Oceanic White Tip, and the Thresher sharks.
  17. The minimum length for harvesting a Short Fin Mako is 83 inches.
florida shark landing statistics

Know Before You Go: Sharks in Florida Beaches

Though Florida is the most likely place in the world for an unprovoked shark attack to occur, the good news is that it is still very unlikely to happen during a visit to the beach. These statistics for sharks in Florida show that is a rare event to get attacked. The average number of people to get bit by a shark in Florida each year is about 30 and that is with millions of people visiting the beaches. Still, it never hurts to be safe, so keep these tips in mind for dealing with sharks in Florida beaches.

  • New Smyrna Beach is the shark bite capital of the world, with many of the bites happening at the Ponce de Leon Inlet. This is due to the area having a strong tidal flow that brings in lots of baitfish, as well as great waves for surfing. Sharks often mistake surfers for prey and this accounts for the majority of incidents here.
  • One of the best ways to avoid shark attacks is to stay near a group of people since sharks tend to go for individuals.
  • Also, avoid swimming during the nighttime when sharks are very active.
  • If you see lots of bait fish or diving seabirds, there is a good chance sharks are in the water and caution should be taken.
  • Reflected light from jewelry can also attract sharks, so it is best to avoid wearing any at the beach.
  • Keep the following infographic with statistics on sharks in Florida handy for the next time you go to the beach!

How many of these Florida shark statistics did you know? Let me know if any surprised you! For more Florida beach tips, check out my guide to Florida vacation ideas and my list of top dog-friendly beaches.

statistics on sharks in florida infographic

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statistics of encountering sharks in Florida