What Is the Beach with the Most Great White Shark Infestations on Earth?

Great white shark
© iStock.com/ELizabethHoffmann

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: June 12, 2023

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Great white sharks don’t immediately look for humans to eat, but they sometimes wander to shallow waters and beaches, giving us quite the scare. Not all beaches, though, are home to great white sharks. Actually, these sharks are travelers and don’t stay in one place for long after a hunt. There are a few common places with the most great white shark sightings. So, what is the beach with the most great white shark infestation on earth?

Which Beach and State Have the Most Shark Attacks?

New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida.

©iStock.com/Javier_Art_Photography

The beach with the highest number of shark incidents in the world is definitely New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida, but why?

Shark attacks are rare, but when they happen, they can cause quite a shock. There are about 70 unprovoked shark attacks a year, and most of them are in the United States. Only a small percentage of attacks are fatal. Florida has the most shark attacks on average, but sometimes California or the Carolinas beat Florida. For instance, in 2021, Florida saw 28 shark attacks out of 47 attacks throughout the country. There were only three shark attacks in California and 7 in Hawaii. Since Florida is a peninsula surrounded by water, the chances are generally higher.

Where Is New Smyrna Beach on a Map?

New Smyrna Beach is a Florida city south of Daytona Beach and near Canaveral National Seashore. With 17 miles of white, sandy beaches, it’s no wonder that it is a favorite among surfers!

It is also about an hour and a half’s drive south of Jacksonville Beach and under four hours from Miami Beach.

Why Do Sharks Attack Humans?

Great white sharks and bull sharks are usually the culprits when it comes to a shark attack. While they have impeccable senses, the large fish get sometimes confused and bite humans when unprovoked. When we swim, we splash water around, which attracts sharks nearby. Out of curiosity, they bite (typically legs or arms) and let go when they realize their ‘prey’ is not a fish or a seal. A lot of shark attacks happen to surfers in the water. This is because when surfers are on their board swimming or waiting for a wave, they look a lot like sea turtles to hungry sharks. In murky water, they can easily confuse the two.

In New Smyrna Beach, the environment is perfect for shark attacks because there are many bait fish in the water, which sharks hunt. The shifty currents create murky waters and many people visit New Smyrna Beach. The more people in the water, the more sharks are, too. In 2021, New Smyrna Beach saw 422,000 visitors and 16 shark bites in Volusia County.

The Great White Shark Diet

What Do Great White Sharks Eat
Great white sharks are not picky eaters, but they are carnivores and won’t consume plants.

Great white sharks eat a lot more than other sharks. Unlike what the classic movie Jaws portrayed, sharks only eat once every few days, and it is only 2-3% of their body weight. Until sharks digest their meal, they won’t hunt for more food. This is why we see sharks and fish swimming past each other. Great white sharks are among one of the largest sharks in the water. They are natural predators and are only rivaled by orcas, also known as killer whales.

Great white sharks are not picky eaters, but are carnivores and won’t consume plants. They can take down juvenile sharks and baby dolphins. However, most great whites ignore dolphins because they hunt and live in pods and are known to attack back. They also hunt seals, a favorite for most great white sharks. Seals are 50% fat and are a good source of protein, which is what sharks need to survive. Young great white pups hide and stay away from larger predators and mostly consume small seals and big meaty fish.

What to Do if You are Attacked by a Great White Shark

Woman escape shark

Humans are not the preferred meal for great white sharks, but attacks accidentally happen.

©Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Humans are too bony for great white sharks, but attacks do accidentally happen. While rare, if you are attacked or bitten by a great white shark, there are a few things you can do to get away. Although it is hard to remain calm, try to stay as relaxed as possible. The more you panic, the higher chance you will cramp and drown. Most sharks let go quickly, but if this is not the case, shout loudly to get a lifeguard or a friend’s attention. Give the shark hell if it doesn’t let go right away. While some people swear that punching great whites’ nose helps, their sensitive points are actually their gills and eyes.

Interesting and Fun Facts About Great White Sharks

  • Great white sharks live mysterious lives.
  • We still don’t know how these large predators reproduce or where, since they disappear deep in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Great white sharks are travelers and move constantly to look for prey.
  • They are also called white sharks, white death, and white pointer.
  • Usually, sharks bite humans out of curiosity, not attack on purpose.
  • The largest great white shark ever measured was 19.7 feet long!
  • Orcas sometimes attack great white sharks and eat their livers and hearts (talk about brutal).


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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