A-z - Animals

Top 10 Scariest Sharks – From Giants to Great Whites!

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You probably won't find an article on the 10 scariest rabbits because when you see one you almost automatically say, "Ah, cute!" But once you hear the word shark , you Jaws or The Meg might immediately come to mind.

Hollywood made movies of these amazing creatures because when you see a shark's mouth full of sharp teeth, it scares you, especially if it's swimming right at you! Sharks are known to be aggressive and aggressive towards humans, but the annual number of shark attacks is relatively small, with an average of only four to five fatalities per year.

Compare that to 185 fatalities in 2019 due to collisions with animals (usually deer) (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). But that doesn't stop us from being terrified of sea-swimming sharks. Let's learn about some of the scariest sharks.

10. Whale Shark

What do whale sharks eat? Whale shark filter feeding
Whale sharks may look scary, but they are harmless giants.

©Fata Morgana by Andrew Marriott/Shutterstock.com

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, they can grow up to 61 feet long! They also have a mouth four feet wide and three thousand sharp teeth! Sounds scary, right? Well, they are not. If you see them, you might be intimidated by their size at first, but whale sharks are docile animals that only eat plankton and small fish. These 3,000 teeth are tiny, only 6 millimeters long (or the size of an eraser), and they don't chew or chew with their teeth.

9. Basking Shark

Largest Shark: The Basking Shark
The basking shark is the second largest species of shark.

© Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

If you're floating peacefully in the ocean and you look up and see a basking shark approaching, you might feel intimidated. One look at their huge mouths open and you'd think they might swallow you whole. But these sharks are just scary to look at, feeding on plankton and copepods and filtering the water with their mouths open. They are the second largest fish in existence and can grow up to 39 feet long.

8. Short Fin Makoto

fastest aquatic animal
The shortfin mackerel is one of the fastest fish in the ocean.

©iStock.com/Alessandro De Maddalena

Now Shortfin Mako looks scary and scary. They are a very aggressive shark with a strong bite. They hold the record for the strongest shark bite (second only to an alligator bite) at 3,000 lbs! Physically, they aren't the biggest sharks at 12 feet long, but they make up for that with their signature intimidating large black eyes. The shortfin mako shark has made nine attacks on humans, resulting in one fatality.

7. Great Hammerhead Shark

Largest Shark: Great Hammerhead Shark
Great hammerhead sharks can exceed 15 feet in length.


Their names say it all, and their heads really do look like hammer heads! On each side of the hammer head there is a malevolent eye. Unlike basking sharks, which prefer to stay near the surface, great hammerheads scan the ocean floor for stingrays, their favorite dinner. There have been 16 documented attacks on humans, but the sharks are suspected of mistaking humans for one of their favorite prey.

6. Sand Tiger Shark

Animals Eat Their Babies: Sand Tiger Sharks
Sand tiger shark mothers will eat their pups while they are still in the womb.


Because sand tiger sharks swim close to shorelines, these sharks are seen more often than most species. Sand tiger sharks are also known as gray nurse sharks or sawtooth sharks. The latter name is certainly a descriptive one. Their mouths are full of big, jagged teeth that look absolutely terrifying!

The most unique feature of sand tiger sharks is their ability to suck air into their stomach and use it to stay afloat, stalking prey undetected. Lets you go swimming without worry, right? While they are not known for their aggressiveness, they did have 36 attacks on humans, none of which were fatal.

5. Blacktip Shark

The Most Aggressive Sharks – Blacktip Sharks
Over the years, blacktip sharks have attacked 41 people.

©Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock.com

Blacktip sharks are named for the color of the tips of their fins. These smaller gray sharks are about 5 feet long and can be identified by the black tips of their dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins. Another identifying feature is that, similar to spinner sharks, they literally jump out of the water and spin 3-4 times before dropping back into the water! The sharks did have some contact with humans and have made 41 attacks on humans over the years.

4. Pelagic Whitefin

Scariest Sharks - Oceanic Whitetips
Oceanic whitetip sharks are believed to have killed more people than great whites

© iStock.com/NaluPhoto

The oceanic whitetip shark is also named for the white tips of its dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins. Unfortunately, these shark fins are highly valued as shark fin soup and have been overfished, causing them to be listed as "critically endangered" by the IUCN. Many areas now offer legal protections to help prevent the species from going extinct. They had 12 human attacks resulting in 3 deaths.

3. Bull Shark

Bull Shark Facts - Bull Sharks and Humans
Bull sharks can simulate in both fresh and salt water, which leads to more attacks on humans.

© wildest animal/Shutterstock.com

Bull sharks should be called "Bully Sharks" because they are very aggressive and love to make trouble. There have been 117 unprovoked attacks on humans, 25 of which were fatal. Bull sharks can be found on the East Coast and around the Gulf of Mexico, but they can also be found in freshwater. They hunt near the coastline, both day and night, so the chances of interacting with humans are increased.

2. Tiger Shark

What Tiger Sharks Eat - Feeding a Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks can reach nearly a ton in size.

© Tomas Kotouc/Shutterstock.com

Unlike sand tiger sharks, tiger sharks can be easily identified by their tiger-like stripes. These streaks are present at a young age but fade away gradually. They can grow up to 14 feet long and will eat almost anything, including injured and dead sea animals. Since they have no discernment, this may explain why they have attacked 131 people and killed 34 over the years.

1. Jaws : Jaws

deadliest animals in america
Frightening looking, the Great White Shark is the most aggressive shark on Earth.

© iStock.com/Peter_Nile

The movie "Jaws" is based on the most aggressive shark in the world – the great white shark. They really are a fearsome wandering shark and show shark. They can grow up to 20 feet long and have mouths full of large, sharp teeth that they use to attack prey. Some of their teeth can grow up to 2.5 inches, and they can remove 30 pounds of flesh in one bite! Great white sharks have been responsible for 333 attacks on humans, 52 of which were fatal.

Where's Meg? Are megalodons alive today?

The Megalodon is another popular movie that showcases aggressive sharks, but is the Megalodon alive today? The answer is no, megalodons likely existed before humans and therefore never interacted with humans. Researchers have studied the fossils of these giant sharks and believe they date back 159,000 to 2.6 million years ago.

Based on fossil finds, the Megalodon is thought to be three times the length of the Great White, with one Megalodon tooth measuring 18 centimeters long! Mouth full of those that will take a bite. It's not clear how these amazing sharks became extinct, although some believe that a drop in ocean temperatures millions of years ago caused a mass die-off of marine animals. For us, I feel so much safer knowing there are no 60 foot sharks on my beach!


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about the author

I'm a wildlife conservation writer and reporter who raises awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share our planet. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris with a degree in Elementary Education, and I am a former teacher. When I'm not writing, I enjoy going to the kids' soccer games, watching movies, working on DIY projects, and running with Tango, our giant Labrador.

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