As you head to the coast for summer vacation, the slim possibility of a shark attack might be in the back of your mind. Chances are you’ve got nothing to worry about, but just in case, you should probably know where most shark attacks happen in the U.S.
North Carolina may be the state that’s currently in the spotlight, with several recent attacks, but South Carolina has seen more shark attacks over the years and Horry County is home to much of the activity. In the county that’s home to Myrtle Beach, there have been 29 shark attacks in recorded history (since 1837), according to the International Shark Attack File and luckily none of those were fatal.
Florida is, without a doubt, the state that sees the most shark attacks in the country and St. Lucie County is one of the spots that helps put the state at the top of the list. The area has a recorded 30 attacks, none of which were fatal, but recent shark sightings have caused major beach closures in the area.
Home to the popular coastal destination, Charleston, this county sees a lot of tourists and a few too many encounters with sharks. According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 30 attacks in Charleston County and two of those were fatal.
This county, home to Jupiter Island and several state parks, is no stranger to shark activity. With a recorded 34 attacks, Martin County has one of the highest rates in the state. Of those attacks, one was fatal—in 2010 a 38-year-old man was kite surfing 500 yards off the beach in Stuart when he was reportedly surrounded and attacked by sharks.
Set in northeast Florida, St. Johns County is home to a handful of beaches, including Point Vedra, Crescent and St. Augustine Beach. The county is also home to an unusually high number of shark attacks. According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 35 attacks in St. Johns, but luckily none of those were fatal.
The third largest Hawaiian Island, Oahu is also known as the gathering place and that holds true for both people and sharks. As avid surfers find great waves on the north shore, snorkelers explore protected bays and swimmers enjoy the open water, sharks occasionally have run-ins with people. Oahu has seen 35 shark attacks—five of those were fatal.
This Hawaiian island is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. From the high peak of Mt. Haleakala in Haleakala National Park to the beautiful beaches that surround the island, there is no shortage of things for outdoor adventurers to do. Unsurprisingly, swimming, snorkeling and other water sports are incredibly popular and that’s been a contributing factor to the number of shark attacks over the years. Maui has seen 55 shark attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File, but that doesn’t count the fatal attack that happened this past April. Including this year’s attack of avid swimmer and Maui-local Margaret Cruse, there have been five fatal attacks in the waters around Maui.
The county that encompasses West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton has a lot of beach-goers and quite a few shark attacks to match. Palm Beach County has had 67 shark attacks on record, none of which were fatal, according to the International Shark Attack File.
Not far from Orlando, Brevard County has some big touristy beaches like Cocoa and Satellite Beach, which are almost always packed. The popularity of the area doesn’t help bring the number of attacks down, as there have been 122 attacks in the county. Of the 122 attacks, there was one death in 1934.
Centrally located on the East Coast of Florida, Volusia County is home to New Smyrna Beach, which is known as the shark attack capital of the world. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), New Smyrna has seen a whopping 238 attacks in recorded history and the county as a whole has seen 267 attacks. Surprisingly none of the 267 attacks have been fatal; experts attribute this to the abundance of young bull sharks in the area, which don’t usually cause catastrophic injury.