Lurking through the deep blue seas are 440 different species of sharks. The group of elasmobranch fish (which also includes rays and skates) is classified into eight different orders. Each type of shark has a distinctive trait and personality. (Let’s just say some sharks are nicer than others.) Scientific researchers believe the great white is the most dangerous type of shark, followed by striped tiger sharks, bull sharks, and blacktip sharks.
The International Shark Attack File recorded 2,785 confirmed shark attacks between 1958 and 2016. Out of those, 439 were fatal. A large shark could weigh anywhere from 1,500 to 2,400 pounds and has a maximum bite force of 18,000 newtons (over 4,000 pounds). If that wasn’t scary enough, they also have razor-sharp teeth that can slice through almost anything.
All that said, it seems almost impossible for anyone to survive a shark encounter. Those people who were lucky enough to live another day have quite the shark attack survival story to tell.
Double Shark Attack
Shanin was just 15 years old when he was brutally attacked by not one but two great white sharks. He was first attacked by a shark that grabbed his hand and threw him into the air.
As Shanin and his board were getting dragged beneath the waves, a second shark came in to claim the human prey. “I remember staring at the shark face to face with its mouth wide open and I could see its eye staring right back to my face,” said Shanin.
Miraculously, a wave washed him to shore where bystanders pulled him to safety.
An exciting surfing trip to Indonesia took a terrible turn when a man fell overboard in the middle of the night. Brett Archibald, a 50-year-old South African, fell into the ocean around 2:52 in the morning.
No one was around to see what had happened and no one heard his screams. Archibald spent 29 grueling hours treading water and fighting off sharks before he was rescued. Thankfully, he made it out alive with only a few minor injuries.
Lola Pollina’s terrifying experience shows how shark attacks can take place even in shallow waters. After escaping from the shark’s razor-sharp jaws, she ran to the safety of her family.
“I didn’t feel anything until I actually saw what happened. You don’t expect something like that to happen until it happens,” said Pollina, only 12 years old at the time of the attack.
Getting back into the water hasn’t been easy for Pollina. There are times where she doesn’t feel comfortable, but having support from her friends helps.
While Jonathan Hernandez was spearfishing in the Bahamas, he was hit from behind by a great white shark. “I looked in the water and I could see that my calf was hanging and all the gushing blood filling the water,” said Hernandez.
He goes on to admit that the whole experience happened so fast and that it felt like a blur. Hernandez is grateful that he didn’t lose any limbs and that he still has a passion for spearfishing.
Austin Reed was riding the waves off the shore in North Carolina when a great white shark pulled him off of his board.
“I thought other sharks were about to go into a frenzy with all the blood in the water,” said Reed.
Luckily, Reed was able to make it out alive and only suffered from minor skin tears. Just a few weeks after leaving the hospital, Reed went back to that same beach to tackle his fear of getting back into the water.
Not everyone is lucky enough to make it through a horrific shark attack and live to tell their tale. Paige Winter, 17 years old, was swimming off the shore of the Atlantic beach when a great white shark pulled her underneath the surface.
Winter originally thought she was getting pulled by one of her family members as a joke. However, the terrifying truth started to sink in when she felt the smooth surface of the shark’s back.
Thankfully, her father, a paramedic, swooped into action and beat the shark off of her. Winter lost her leg but her positive attitude showed that she would not let the tragedy get the best of her.
Sharm El Sheikh
The month of December 2010 will go down in history as a period of complete terror for Sharm El Sheikh residents. The coastal beach down in Southern Egypt was at its peak tourist season when three Russians and one Ukrainian were seriously injured by gruesome shark attacks.
Just a few days later, another person became human prey but this time it was fatal. People were frightened by the series of shark attacks at Sharm El Sheikh. Signs prohibiting anyone from swimming or diving into the water were posted all along the shore.
Almost Ripped in Half
On the morning of January 23, 2007, fisherman Eric Nevarez and his son prepared their boat to sail around Cape Howe, Australia. Once settling on a diving location, Nevarez took to the water while his son waited on the deck.
A seal or a large group of fish rushed past him and he immediately began to think about what could be chasing them. Not long after, a great white shark bit at the center of Nevarez’s body.
Luckily he was wearing a led vest, which kept him from being ripped in half. Thankfully, he made it the surface and his son helped pull him out of the water.
A person is normally in complete shock after they get brutally attacked by a shark. Braxton Rocha, on the other hand, was actually calm and collected after his near-death experience.
It all started when Rocha was spearfishing off Big Island’s Upolu Point in Hawaii when a 12-foot tiger shark sunk its razor-sharp teeth into his leg. After escaping from the shark’s jaws, Rocha was able to swim to shore.
As he was about to get carried away in an ambulance, Rocha documented his experience on his phone. He even showed social media followers his shredded bloody leg.
The World Surf League holds an annual competition at Jeffreys Bay in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Hundreds of surfers from around the world compete for the grand prize. On July 19, 2015, Mick Fanning took to the waters for what would turn out to be the scariest ride of his life.
During the finals of the J-Bay event, Fanning was captured on camera as he was being attacked by a shark. Thousands of viewers watched in fear as Fanning literally fought for his life. Fellow competitor Julian Wilson paddled to Fanning’s rescue and was hailed as a hero for his efforts.
Fighting for Life
Vacations are supposed to be a time of peace and relaxation. Unfortunately for Krishna Thompson and his wife, their 10-year anniversary to the Bahamas was anything but that. What started as a nice sunny day quickly turned into a scene out of a horror movie.
Thompson was swimming close to shore when he felt a sharp pain in his leg. When he turned to look at what happened, he was face to face with a great white shark. Thompson sprung into action and started punching the shark in the face until it released him. Thompson was able to make it back to shore but sadly without his leg.
Saved by Dolphins
Rob Howe and his daughters were enjoying a beautiful afternoon swimming off the coast of New Zealand when the unexpected happened. Howe was the first one to notice that a school of dolphins was circling them.
He quickly realized that the dolphins were making a protective shield from a great white shark that was making its way towards the family.
What happened that day was nothing short of a miracle. The shark ended up swimming away and the family made it safely back to shore.
One of the oldest shark attacks to date is frozen in history. The horrific shark attack story begins off the Cuban Havana Harbour in 1749. Brook Watson, just 14 years old, fell into the body of water where a shark just happened to be nearby.
The young boy was attacked twice by the shark. First, it removed flesh from his lower leg and then it ripped off his right foot. Thankfully, Watson survived the brutal attack. Thirty years later, a portrait was painted that depicted the gruesome event.
Ankle Hanging by a Thread
Dave Quinlivan was leisurely ski paddling off the shore of Black Head Beach in South Australia. Out of nowhere, a great white shark emerged from the water to sink its teeth into Quinlivan.
As he was being dragged into the water, Quinlivan thought his life was coming to an end. Thankfully, the shark let go of him long enough for him to get back on his ski. When he finally got to the hospital, his ankle was barely hanging on by a thread.
Going Down in History
Many people dream of going down in history. However, no one wants to be famous for being the first Californian shark attack victim. Barry Wilson, just 17 years old at the time, was swimming in 30 feet of water when a friend caught a bizarre glimpse of Wilson from the corner of his eye.
He later learned that what he saw was Wilson being knocked into the air by a shark. The ravenous beast then proceeded to drag him underwater. Luckily, his courageous friend was able to pull him back to shore.
Leg Torn Off
Henri Bource, a Dutch-Australian scuba diver and underwater moviemaker, was filming seals playing before they suddenly swam away. Spooked by their sudden departure, Bource decided to swim back to the surface.
Before he had a chance to get out of the water a great white shark savagely tore off his leg. Miraculously, Bource survived the vicious attack. Just six weeks later he was back in the water filming a documentary about his attack, called Savage Shadows.
The South Australia spearfishing championship began the morning of December 8, 1963. Rodney Fox, a 23-year-old life insurance salesman, took to the water. He immediately set his sights on a large reef fish.
As he was about to shoot his spear, a great white shark attacked Fox from behind. Through a series of near miracles, Fox made it to the hospital where surgeons worked on his mutilated body. Somehow, Fox survived and eventually became one of the world’s foremost authorities on sharks.
On October 31, 2003, it was just another early morning of riding the waves for Bethany Hamilton, a 13-year-old surfer. She and her family were surfing along Tunnel Beach, Kauai when a 14-foot-long shark grabbled her left arm which was dangling in the water.
By the time she made it to the hospital, she had already lost 60% of her blood. Luckily, she recovered at the cost of her left arm. Determined to keep surfing, Hamilton went on to become a professional surf competitor and a motivational speaker.
Thrown 15 Feet into the Air
Off the coast of California, Todd Endris and a friend were riding the waves of Monterey Bay. Sometime in the late afternoon, they spotted a group of playful dolphins in the water.
The friends were watching in awe when Endris was violently struck from below and throw almost 15 feet into the air. Now in the water, Endris tried desperately to get back on his board.
Before he had a chance, a great white shark sunk its teeth into the center of his back. Miraculously, the group of dolphins positioned themselves between the shark and Endris. This provided an opportunity for Endris to get back on his board.
Brue Grimes, a 49-year-old American surfer, took a trip to Mexico to enjoy the waves. One afternoon during his vacation, he sat on his board in the water admiring the crystal blue sky. His thoughts were immediately interrupted when he felt a bump from beneath.
When Grimes noticed it was a shark, he tried to calmly paddle back to shore. However, the shark was persistent and a second bump knocked him into the water.
The bull shark proceeded to bite into his arm and hand. Luckily for Grimes, the shark swam off, leaving him to paddle back to shore. He then drove himself to the hospital where he received almost 100 stitches.
Sliced Opened Leg
At the young age of six, Lucy Magnum had a frightening experience. The Magnum family was enjoying a sunny afternoon on a remote beach in North Carolina.
While the kids were surfing on their boogie boards, the parents were watching just a few feet away. A sharp scream immediately brought their attention to Lucy.
Mrs. Magnum saw a shark swimming in the shallow waters and instantly started running to scoop up her daughter. When they got Lucy to shore they saw that the lower half of her leg was sliced open.
Diving for Lobster
Keane Webre Haye is one of the youngest shark attack victims lucky enough to tell his fighting tale. He was diving for lobsters with a friend when he noticed a big fish swimming nearby.
That big fish was later identified as a great white shark. It grabbed the 13-year-old boy but somehow he was able to escape the jaws of the shark. With help from his friend, he made it to a nearby kayak and they paddled to safety.
Everyone dreams of a tropical beach vacation. For Tiffany Johnson and her husband, that dream became a reality when they went on a snorkeling expedition off a shallow reef in the Bahamas.
Tiffany, alone in the water, was enjoying God’s creation when she felt a bump from something. When she turned her head, she was greeted by a shark that took hold of her arm in its powerful jaws.
“The strength of the Lord came out from inside me and it gave me the strength to fight back,” said Johnson. After fighting and pulling, the shark finally let go of her mangled arm and she was able to scream for help.
Bitten to the Bone
Leeanne Ericson, a mother of three, had her life forever changed the afternoon of April 29, 2017. What was supposed to be a beautiful day riding the waves quickly turned into a nightmare. A 10-foot great white shark grabbed Ericson and pulled her into the water.
The shark bit her thigh and backside to the bone but Ericson fought back. “I kept digging at what felt like jello,” she said. That jello feeling was the shark’s eye. Her quick thinking and her boyfriend’s persistence while pulling her to shore helped save her life.
Real Life Jaws
Steven Spielberg directed Jaws in 1975 and it instantly became a blockbuster hit. The mystery drama revolves around a killer shark that terrorizes a coastal New England town.
Many people are unaware that Jaws was inspired by true events. In 1916, a serious of vicious shark attacks took place on New Jersey beaches. For a period of time, many New Jersey residents were too terrified to step foot into a body of water.