Shark Attack! – Why sharks attack humans


Stories of surfers being attacked by sharks are common. They have lead to some people to speculating that sharks attack human beings for food. However, this is a misconception. It has been found that specific attacks on humans are rare.

There are two main reasons why sharks have attacked humans. One, they mistook the victims for a fish or a seal. They assume that the victims are what they are not. Two, the victim had strayed into the shark’s territory. Sharks, like any other animals, obey their animal instincts. When they feel that they are threatened by the presence of another creature, they would attack to defend themselves or their territories.

Often, shark attacks are not fatal. After taking a bite and tasting the human victim, they would realise that the victim is not their usual food and release him. Why then would they mistake a human being for their usual prey?

Humans who have been victims of shark attacks are usually surfers or those riding on boogie boards. In water, these victims bear close resemblance to turtles and sea lions; they appear roughly oval in shape with legs and arms dangling and paddling. Mistaking humans for those animals, sharks would move in to attack them.  

Surfers' resemblance to sea creatures

The species of sharks that are most responsible for attacks on humans are the Great White (Carcharodon carcharias), Tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), and Bull (Carcharhinus leucas) sharks but according to a report, these sharks do not attack humans because they are aggressive but that there are just more humans taken to coastal waters in areas where these sharks can be found.


“Why do sharks attack people?”  by newsround. CBBC News, n.d. URL: (accessed on 3 Arpil 2010).

“How shark attacks work” by Ed Grabianowski. How Stuff Works, 30 October 2008. URL: (accessed on 3 April 2010).

“Good recession news: Shark attacks down” by Ronald Bailey. Reason, 24 February 2009. URL: (accessed on 3 April 2010).

5 thoughts on “Shark Attack! – Why sharks attack humans

  1. This is a very great website that tells about sharks. Thanks for the information about why sharks
    Attacks humans. Good article. 😉

  2. My opinion on all the reasons why sharks attack some I agree with and some I just don’t what so ever. I know they are curious but they are VERY SMART esp if they have been around humans a lot and they are getting fed by them. They know that this animal is feeding them without them having to fight for their food so they see another animal who doesn’t have any fish for me so I wonder what they taste like. I have a strong opinion that yes they want to do exploratory taste on them but just like any animal or human there are things that you will like and not like concerning your food and same for them… some may like the taste of the human they bite and some may not …the bites that are not HUGE chunks taken out of a person looks like the exploratory bite that was “oh my I do NOT like that let’s spit it out” then you have the HUGE bites to the bone and all the muscle eaten and not spit out and come back for 2nds or more it seems “Holy moly I REALLY want more of that! It taste sooooo good! Give me more of that!!” I truly feel they LIKED the way the human taste! I mean that’s just common sense that Everything and everyone has food they like and dislike and my gut says and has always said there are some that like the way some human taste when they take huge chunks out of someone or limbs taken off. They can’t help what they like and don’t like. Just like we can’t help what we like and don’t like. Everyone has their preference. I just think that everywhere people like to swim and be in the sharks habitat needs the anti-shark nets to separate them and keep humans from being tasted. And also humans need to watch out and don’t put theirselves in the path of harm and just be cautious until these things to protect us are put in place and still be cautious. I think every country needs to take steps to protect swimmers and surfers from this happening and keep constant maintenance on them to make sure they are not torn and are still working.

  3. And to add to my opinion there I said sharks are very smart and know what their normal food looks like so mistaking a human for a fish, sea lion, seal, or a turtle is just absurd to me…. I really feel they know exactly what their food looks like they normally eat and have always eaten…they thought they would try something new if they have Never seen a human or that this human doesn’t have fish for me like all the others so I am going to try them instead ..

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