WARNING: Some of the images, videos, and information about sharks and shark attacks may not be for the squeamish. Proceed with caution. By the end of this list of most horrifying shark attacks, you are going to BE Roy Scheider in Jaws. From the “Real New Jersey Jaws” to the tragic killing of a young man on his honeymoon, this list has all of the horrors of shark attacks imaginable.
Shark attacks are pretty simple when you think about it – they happen wherever there is water and delicious people (unless this is Sharknado and then shark attacks can happen in your living room). Can we just finish this level before you bite our torso in half, buddy? But most of the time, shark attacks are a result of mistaken identity; the shark is looking for a juicy sea lion or seal and you look like a yummy blubbery treat in that wetsuit.
Why should you go snorkeling wearing chain mail or think twice about being a sailor? Because shark attacks are on the rise with an average of 60 per year in the U.S. Even though the odds are 1 in 11 million that you’ll be attacked by a shark, that’s 60 shark attacks too many if you ask us. The most horrific shark attacks usually involve maritime disasters – war is hell but even worse on the high seas – but there’s also the rogue shark who likes to go to the beach as much as we do. And in real life, there’s no Quint to munch on or Richard Dreyfuss to help us fend off that stone-cold eating-machine.
Bethany Hamilton, 2003
A 14-foot-tiger shark, believed to be the shark that attacked Hamilton, was trapped by a local fisherman Ralph Young. The shark weighed nearly 1,400 pounds. He’s totally dead now. Hamilton went on to rank as one of the top 10 professional women surfers in the world.
USS Indianapolis, 1945
Robert Pamperin, 1959
The Cape San Juan Sinking, 1943
One survivor, Corporal Louis Ruffin, described the night spent in the water and how sharks were picking the men off one by one in the murky waters of the Pacific. When rescuers arrived the next day, they threw the dead back into the water. “When I was pulled up and on the boat, I did some moving and shaking! I didn’t want one of them big ole sharks to eat me up!” Thank you for serving sir, and for not being served to sharks.
Rodney Fox, 1963
Rodney Fox has the best cocktail story ever after his shark attack. While competitively spearfishing in Australia, he suffered a vicious shark attack where a great white grabbed him by the torso and then charged him two more times, pulling him under and dragging him across the ocean floor. The bites punctured his diaphragm, scapula and tore his lung… TORE HIS LUNG, GUYS!
Rescuers had to keep his wetsuit on to keep his organs from spilling out. The fact that Fox survived is a miracle. That and he gouged out its eyes. Fox was 13.
Fox became a leading authority on the great white and designed the first shark observation cage. He was inducted into the International Scuba Hall of Fame in 2007. Because he deserved it.
Sam Kellett, 2015
Sam Kellett, a 28-year-old school teacher, was devoured by a great white shark while spearfishing off the coast of Australia with his friends. Unfortunately, his buddies had to witness the attack, and saw the ocean turn red with his blood.
Kellett’s parents have graciously decided not to blame the shark for their son’s death, and have requested that it not be hunted or killed.
Shirley Ann Durdin, 1985
Australia is a lovely place. A lovely, deadly place, and a hot spot for shark attacks. That’s a bad rap considering that Australia has as many shark attacks as Florida.
But it’s the shark attack that killed Shirley Ann Durdin that helped put Australia front and center in the shark attack stat box. Durdin was snorkeling in Peake Bay when she was viciously attacked in just seven feet of water. Her husband and children watched as the 20-foot great white tore her in two. The shark only left her torso behind, but before rescuers could reach the scene, it circled back and took that too.
David Peltier, 2001
Ian Redmond, 2011
The shark ripped off Redmond’s arm and leg. A vacationing doctor tried to save Redmond but he bled to death on the beach. His new wife saw the entire attack. Two weeks prior, a shark killed a man 400 yards from where Redmond was attacked. The Seychelles tourism chief was blamed for not warning beach goers about the first attack.
The Sinking of the La Seyne and the Onda, 1909
Pacific Coast Multiple Shark Attacks, 1984
Peter Clarkson, 2011
Terrence Manuel, 1974
Randall Fry, 2004
Mick Fanning, 2015
Apparently a shark did not want Mick to do so well during his pro surfing competition at Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa. The spooky/HORRIFYING thing about the attack is that it was caught live on camera. As Fanning was going for the line up, the shark went for him but got caught in his surfboard tether before it could snag the surfer. Fanning got away unharmed because he punched it. HE PUNCHED IT.
Fanning didn’t see teeth but he did get to punch the shark and live to tell the tale. Another surfer, Julian Wilson, quickly got out of the water because he isn’t a fool either. The surfing competition’s safety team was on it and got both surfers out of the water asap.
The dramatic footage captures the attack and Fanning’s in-the-moment reaction.
Brook Watson, 1749
A 14-year-old British merchant sailor, Brook Watson is the first recorded shark attack victim. He was swimming in the Havana harbor when a shark attacked him. The shark circled back to finish him off when Watson’s crew mates jumped in and saved him. Watson lost his leg as a result of the attack but went on to serve as a Member of Parliament and Lord Mayor of London.
This super dramatic portrait of the attack was the YouTube hit of its time.
Deborah Franzman, 2003
New Smyrna Beach Florida – Just About Any Time
A popular chomping ground for bull sharks, New Smyrna Beach has yet to have a fatal attack. Still, 238 attacks is A LOT.
Experts theorize that the reason for such the high volume of shark attacks is the density of people. Swimmers, surfers, and fishermen don’t seem to care about the sweet, deadly kisses and nibbles of sharks.
Because Florida does what it wants.