Though shark attacks are rare, they happen yearly around the world and can be fatal, given that they range from 4 inches to about 50 feet long. In this article, we’re going to show you 7 islands with the most shark attacks in the world.
The World Islands with the Most Shark Attacks
While sharks live in the ocean’s depths, they are often found close to the coastlines of islands worldwide. The islands with the most shark attacks are as follows:
Reunion Island, Indian Ocean
The French Island is located in the dangerous ‘Shark Highway’ in the Indian Ocean, with Madagascar to its west and Mauritius to its northeast. The island finds itself in shark-infested waters, with its aquatic ecosystem and coral reefs making its coastlines appealing to sharks to inhabit. It is little wonder that residents and tourists on Reunion Island have been banned from swimming in the waters around the island to curb shark attacks.
According to the Annual Worldwide Shark Attack Summary by Forbes, there have been 56 shark attacks, with 27 being fatal on Reunion Island between 1913 and 2018. The island is known to have the highest ratio of shark-related deaths per a million people in the world, more than South Africa, which comes close second, and the United States of America.
Long Island, USA
About half of the world’s recorded shark attacks in recent years have occurred around the United States of America. The New York Island is densely populated, with the frequent use of the coastlines by residents and tourists taken as one of the factors for the frequency of shark attacks in the region.
Shark attacks haven’t always been plentiful on Long Island. However, in July 2022, there were at least three attacks. Long Island extends into the Atlantic Ocean, from where sharks swim to its coastlines. The warm and clear waters, and the availability of fish prey for sharks, influence the abundance of sharks off the island’s coast. The most commonly sighted sharks along Long Island are the aggressive great white sharks.
Other commonly sighted shark species include tiger sharks, which use the island’s estuaries as a habitat for juvenile sharks during summer, basking sharks, and blue sharks. It is worth noting that hunting sharks on Long Island is considered illegal.
Maui Island, Hawaii
Maui Island has had the most shark attacks of all the Hawaiian Islands; about 70 reported shark attacks on its coastlines, with Makena Beach having the most attacks. The shark-infested island ranks after Hawaii Island as the second largest in the state with a landmass of 727.2 square miles (1,883 square kilometers). While the coastlines attract tourists annually, it also makes for a suitable habitat for sharks.
The most commonly spotted shark on the coastlines of Maui Island is the tiger shark. Tiger sharks are considered aggressive alongside their cousins, the bull shark and the great white, which are likely to attack humans unprovoked. Other shark species around the island include cookie-cutter sharks, Galapagos, sandbars, and grey reef sharks.
Big Island, Hawaii
Nicknamed the Big Island, Hawaii Island spans 4,028 square miles (10,432.5 square kilometers) and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. As its name implies, it is the biggest island in America.
Sharks of different species are drawn to the coastlines of the island like the other big Hawaiian Islands, as the state of Hawaii is known to have about 40 shark species in its waters. Between 2020 and 1995, there have been about 22 shark attacks on the Big Island.
Kona Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Big Island and consequently has more shark attacks than the other beaches.
Oahu Island, Hawaii
Oahu Island has the second highest shark attacks of the 137 Hawaiian Islands. The Central Pacific island has had about 42 recorded shark attacks, with many of them on Kamala Beach. The ocean predators are known to frequent the island’s shallow waters for its suitable conditions and shallow waters.
The most common shark species sighted around the island include the aggressive tiger shark, the whitetip reef shark, the scalloped hammerhead, and the Galapagos. To curb shark attacks on the island, hunting of sharks has been declared illegal, with water sports activities prohibited in some areas around the island.
Papua New Guinea, New Guinea
Papua New Guinea sits in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in the continent of Oceania. New Guinea is considered the largest tropical island in the world, spanning 178,700 square miles (462,840 square kilometers). This island is known to have had about 48 unprovoked shark attacks since the year 1848.
One of the major reasons for shark attacks around the island is fishing and diving in the Papua New Guinea waters. Some natives are known to practice an act called ‘shark calling’ to lure sharks closer to their boats and capture them. The depletion of sharks in the island’s waters has stirred a debate, with the natives being accused of hunting sharks excessively. In contrast, the natives believe that the depletion of the sharks is due to sea mining by commercial entities.
The commonly sighted shark species in the island waters include river sharks, great white sharks, mako sharks, and epaulette sharks.
Fraser Island, Australia
Fraser Island is the sixth largest island in Australia and the largest sand island in the world. The East Australian Island, which spans about 710 square miles, is considered a World Heritage-listed island. Its rainforests, mangroves, dunes, woodlands, diverse birds, and beaches make it a popular destination for tourists and sharks.
The shallow waters at the beaches of the Australian island are infested by great white sharks, tiger sharks, reef sharks, and bull Sharks, among other shark species. The east line of the island is the most shark-infested area, and humans are strongly advised to stay away. The last reported shark attack on the coast of Fraser Island was in the year 2020 of a man spearfishing in the Indian Ocean.
How to Avoid Sharks in the Ocean
While the risk of being bitten by a shark is close to zilch, it is important to take caution when in the sea or ocean, as it is not easy to identify shark species underwater. Sharks have very keen tracking senses under the water; they can smell blood for miles underwater and sense vibrations.
Some quarters advise that when faced with a shark, you should punch the shark in the nose to turn the predators away. However, a better option is to flee from the water and onto land.
More proactive measures are to adhere to Nature Signs, avoiding waters with high shark activity and areas with clusters of seals that could also attract sharks.
A shark’s bite can be fatal no matter what part of the body the bite is taken from, so get to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible if bitten by one.