Shark Attack Statistics in Australia

Published: 12 September 2021

Shark attack statistics show that Australia is the deadliest location in the world when it comes to fatalities directly associated with shark attacks.

There have been over 700 unprovoked shark attacks since 1900 resulting in more than 170 fatalities and leaving hundreds more severely injured.

How many shark attacks happen in Australia?

In 2020:

  • Australia recorded 22 unprovoked shark encounters. That is over 38% of the worldwide total. 
  • There were 8 fatalities in total,  7 of which were attributed to shark attacks that were unprovoked. This accounted for more than 50% of the worldwide total fatalities. 
  • There were a further 11 victims that sustained injury due to the unprovoked attack.

Although there were no fatalities recorded in 2019, shark attacks were no less common. There were 17 confirmed unprovoked shark encounters that resulted in injury to 14 people.

Shark attack statistics in Australia by State 2012- 2020

Types of sharks found in Australia

Australia is surrounded by 25,760 kilometres of coastline and its coastal waters are home to the world’s highest diversity of shark species. 

There are over 400 species of shark worldwide, around 170 inhabit Australian waters. All 12 shark species that have been known to cause unprovoked attacks are found in Australian waters. 

Only three shark species have been responsible for fatal attacks over the past 20 years. These were the Great White, Tiger and Bull sharks.

When & where do shark attacks occur?

Shark encounters are on the increase and can occur all year round, however, the seasonal peak period occurs mostly between November to April.

Australia is known for its beach culture. Having the sixth-longest coastline in the world and offering nearly 12,000 pristine beaches to visit, it’s no wonder that a staggering 500 million individual beach visitations occurred during 2020-2021. 

The coastal zone is also where more than 80% of Australians live. 

World-wide, most shark attacks happen between 8am and 6pm, with more on weekends during the warmer seasons.

Shark attacks occur most frequently in nearshore waters – ones particularly between sandbars or steep drop-offs. The 3 major coastal areas of Australia including Western Australia, NSW and Queensland consistently account for more than 80% of where shark attacks and fatalities occur.

How many shark attacks happen world-wide?

During the past decade there have been on average 77 shark attacks occurring each year around the world. About 10% of these attacks result in fatalities.

Historically, shark attacks have occurred most frequently in the USA. Over the past 20 years, Florida has remained the consistent leader in the USA shark attack tally board representing 48% of all cases in 2020.

Worldwide shark attack statistics by location 2011-2020



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