Watch A Shark Bite An Alligator In South Carolina

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Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 9, 2023

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Front shot of great white shark on white background
© kart

At a dock at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, you wouldn’t want to take a plunge in the water. While it’s a scenic and beautiful area, there are creatures that like to stir things up near the shore. In early October, two of the world’s most lethal apex predators, a large shark, and an alligator, are seen swimming near a dock.  

Cory Conlin took out his cell phone and began recording when he spotted the two creatures so close together. With nearly 400,000 views online, it seems as if everyone would’ve done the same! Conlon and the other dockside spectators were in for a treat. 

The video starts with a gator just relaxing on the surface of the water. Alligators, like submarines, have the incredible ability to adjust their buoyancy by expanding and deflating their lungs. The modification allows them to blend in with their surroundings, sneak up on prey, and disguise their size.


Alligators are opportunistic feeders, usually consuming fish, birds, turtles, birds, and small mammals.

©Ernie Hounshell/

It isn’t long until you see a light-colored shark swim right up to the creature. The shark begins circling the alligator many times before chomping down on one of its legs as it floated on top of the water. The gator struggled and turned to face the shark, who stopped attacking him and resumed swimming in circles.

You can see several people tossing food into the water to bait the shark and alligator in the footage. In the state of South Carolina, feeding alligators is against the law. It’s also illegal to throw chum in the water. The people tossing fish into the ocean could have influenced the behavior of the shark in the video.

Before the shark chomps on it, one chunk of fish appears to land perfectly on top of the alligator. For all we know, these two are best buds and the bite was a mere accident. It’s unclear what kind of shark is in the video. 

great white shark

Great white sharks are the largest predatory shark in existence.

©Ramon Carretero/

The Hilton Head Island area is home to a well-known great white shark population. The shark in this video appears hungry, but the alligator wasn’t about to let the shark have an easy meal without defending itself.

A new study suggests that American alligators on the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines of the United States feed on tiny sharks and stingrays, albeit the sharks may not be as large as the shark in the movie Jaws. Despite the contrasts between freshwater and saltwater, sharks and alligators frequently share the same water. 

Is It Normal For Sharks To Attack Alligators?

Blacktip ocean sharks
While the type of shark in the video isn’t clear, this area is known to have a variety of species, like blacktip sharks.

© Golubev

The simple answer here is no, not really. Shark vs Alligator is relatively rare because alligators usually hang out in semi-salty swamps whereas sharks tend to prefer the coastal waters where they can swim better. That isn’t to say it doesn’t happen, as shown in the video below, but it isn’t a common occurrence. Sharks and alligators aren’t natural known enemies.

How Common Are Shark Attacks Compared To Alligator Attacks?

Bull Sharks Underwater
It is not very common for sharks or alligators to attack humans.

In short, it’s super rare. When it comes to aquatic predators, sharks, and alligators are two of the most feared creatures. However, the likelihood of encountering one of these animals and being attacked is relatively low. In fact, the odds of being attacked by a shark are much lower than being attacked by an alligator.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 57 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in the United States in 2020, resulting in 13 fatalities. This fact may seem scary, but in the long run, it’s really not that many attacks considering how many people enter the Ocean each year.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were 12 unprovoked alligator attacks in Florida in 2020, resulting in one fatality. While these numbers are actually lower than in previous years, it’s still important to exercise caution when entering shark or alligator territory.

Shark vs. Alligator: Which Is More Powerful?

great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, with its first dorsal fin damaged by tagging observed off Gansbaai, South Africa, Atlantic Ocean
It’s not likely for a fight to occur between an alligator and a shark but if it were to happen, the shark would most likely be the victor.

©Alessandro De Maddalena/

While a fight between a shark and an alligator seems extremely unlikely, the video proves it is possible. Taking this incident and the possible bait on the alligator out of the equation, which is more powerful? First, take size into consideration. Sharks are enormous, some weighing 2,400 lbs and growing 21 feet long; alligators, on the other hand, are much smaller. A heavy alligator is 800 lbs, and most grow to around 11 feet. Which is faster?

Alligators can attack at a speed of 20 mph on land, but the shark can swim 35 mph in pursuit of prey. In comparing their bites, sharks win with an estimated 4,000 PSI versus an alligator bite of 2,980 PSI. Sharks have an astounding sense of smell and great vision, while alligators have poor vision in water. Their sense of smell is strong but not as keen as a shark’s. It seems the shark would win this unlikely battle between two fearsome creatures.

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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