How Many Sharks Kill Humans Per Year?

Sharks are undoubtedly intimidating creatures. And if the thought of a ferocious apex predator slicing through the water with its sharp teeth and powerful jaws is one that is almost certain to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up a little bit, you are not alone. According to a 2015 study, 51 percent of Americans reported feeling "absolutely terrified" of sharks (via Ipsos). And while Spielberg's famous blockbuster movie "Jaws" might bear some of the responsibility for these numbers, it can't take all the blame.

It turns out, there are some deep-seated emotional reasons that drive our fear of sharks. "Fear is something that we've inherited from our early ancestors. [Sharks] are an animal. Biological things like animals are something that we're very prone to fear," Blake Chapman, a shark expert at the University of Queensland, explained to National Geographic. But while sharks are undeniably powerful and can certainly be dangerous, it seems this fear of sharks might not be as warranted as pop culture and your lizard brain would have you believe. While human encounters with sharks can certainly be fatal, it turns out deadly shark attacks are actually pretty rare.

There were only 11 shark-related deaths in 2021

In 2021, there were only 73 confirmed unprovoked cases of shark attacks on humans worldwide, and another 39 cases of provoked bites, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File. Of these global human-shark interactions, just 11 of them were fatal, with two of those cases being provoked shark attacks (the other nine cases were designated as unprovoked). On average, a person's chance of getting bitten by a shark is about 1 in 3,748,067, according to Petpedia. This means that a whole host of other common activities, many of which we don't think twice about, are much more dangerous to humans than sharks, including driving, climbing a ladder, getting bitten by mosquitos, and even getting hit by lightning, according to Padi.

However, sharks can't necessarily say the same thing about human beings. While sharks may occasionally bite humans, over 70 million sharks are killed by people each year, largely for sport or for their valuable teeth and fins. In fact, American Oceans reports that it's estimated humans kill more than 100 million sharks per year. Yet sharks generally kill fewer than 10 people. So while we might fear sharks since they trigger some part of our primal survival instincts, it seems that they might actually have more of a reason to be afraid of humans than we do of them.