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How Likely are You in Getting Attacked by a Shark in Miami?

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

As the summer heat starts to rise in South Florida, natives and tourists flock to Miami's prized water pleasures – the beach.

However, the moment you step a foot into any of South Florida's beaches, the risk of coming across a sea creature is quite possible with sharks being the biggest fear of all. Sharks are known to kill due to their ferocious bite and strength. But how real are the chances of being attacked by a shark in Miami and in South Florida? Miami Living did some digging to find out.

The Stats

Based on statistics, shark attacks are not very common along the Florida coast but the state is ranked the highest in attacks. Out of the total cases in the United States, Florida has 51% of all the shark attack cases. Last year in Florida, there were reportingly 21 unprovoked attacks. What this means is that the people in the ocean did not implement any sort of action that would have startled the animal to act in aggression or defense. Most incidents in 2019 were people on surfboards or those participating in board sports. There have not been any reported shark attacks in Florida in the current year.

Ninety percent or more of shark incidents are mistakes. They assume that we're something that we are not. -Gary Adkison, diver ("Sharkbite! Surviving the Great White")

Since the 1900s, there has only been a total of 828 unprovoked attacks in Florida. The majority of the shark attacks were non-fatal. Only 36 of the attacks were unprovoked and fatal. These numbers are ones that prove the unlikelihood of shark attacks due to the long span of time it has been with these low numbers. You have a better chance of dying from other incidents than shark attacks.

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Graphs courtesy of Shark Attackt Data

Why Humans?

Sharks are simply confused. If one thinks about it from a shark's perspective, these large predators are in their own territory. To provide themselves the proper nutrients to survive, these meat-eating lovers look for whales, seals, sea lions. Humans were never in their diet.

While they swim around on the prowl for their daily meal, they lurk about the waters to see what they can find. As surfers are dangling their feet off their boards and their arms to the side, the perception a shark has from below is that it is a sea lion. With that being the case, the shark will without hesitation go for their snack, in this instance, a human being.

Shark attacks usually lead to shark bites causing humans to lose limbs or be severely injured. When sharks take their first bite of human flesh, they soon realize that it is not what they were praying for, at explains that " the shark bites the victim, hangs on for a few seconds (possibly dragging the victim through the water or under the surface), and then let's go."

Of course, this does not undermine the fear factor that comes with shark attacks as no person would ever want to encounter such a large predator that has the ability to do the unknown and past statistics to kill.

How to prevent a shark attack

To prevent the risk of shark attacks, Miami Living came up with a top list of recommendations:

  • Swim in groups

  • If bleeding, do not enter the water. Sharks smell blood

  • Don't wear shiny jewelry. Can resemble fish scales

  • Stay close to shore

  • Stay out of water in dark hours

  • Don't splash around. Intense movements can summon sharks

  • If sharks are present, stay out of the ocean

  • Be smart. Don't try to play with the sharks if they are swimming by. That is a provoked attack, which is "caused by humans touching sharks"

The more people in the ocean the more likely a shark attack will occur. If you are one to enjoy the open ocean, try to stay in shallow and clear waters. This will not guarantee a shark attack but will hopefully give you enough time to leave the premises if a predator decides to swim by.

Every action in life endures a risk and swimming in the ocean is one of them. You can enjoy Miami's beaches with little danger but if you come across a shark, be cool, wise and act quickly!

Words by Brooke Klaiman,, Photo Credits: Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash. Photo by Roman Odintsov by Pexels.

Shark gif/animation by Fabien Gouby, Fabian is a Digital / Motion Designer from France, now based in the UK with over 10 years agency experience. For work inquiries please email


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