Are there sharks in Daytona Beach? Daytona Beach is a city on Florida’s Atlantic coast. It is fantastic for tourists and packed with great options for family fun and outdoor adventure opportunities such as surfing, parasailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing everywhere along the 23 miles of the Atlantic Ocean of its shore.
The city is most known for the incredible Daytona International Speedway, which hosts the iconic Daytona 500 NASCAR race. However, it’s not the only reason why this beautiful coastal city is famous. Daytona Beach is located in Volusia County, the “shark bite capital of the world.”
Daytona Beach is home to at least 45 species of shark. Also, the city is located in Volusia County, known as the “shark bite capital of the world,” as there are more shark incidents in this area than anywhere else on Earth. However, despite the fame, even in Daytona Beach, fatal shark attacks are rare.
In Volusia County, where Daytona Beach is situated, the chances of shark incidents are ten times higher than anywhere else. This information alone could be frightening to some people. But if you look at how crowded all Florida beaches are throughout the year, you’ll see that tourists and residents don’t consider sharks that much of a threat. And they are right. There are more chances of dying hit by lightning (1 in 79,746) than by a shark (1 in 4,332,817).
In this article, I’ve prepared a table comparing the odds of dying in a shark-related incident to other 18 death causes, such as Cancer, Car Accidents, and even Fireworks accidents. The numbers are hard to believe, and you can check all of them in the following sections. Also, you’ll be able to find a complete species guide of sharks in Daytona Beach and a database with all of the shark attacks registered in the area. A lot of fun facts and great information!
To learn all about shark attacks and the most common shark species in Daytona Beach, keep reading.
Are There Sharks In Daytona Beach?
Daytona Beach is a beautiful coastal city in Florida, with over 23 miles of the Atlantic Ocean on its shore. Therefore, sharks’ presence in the area is expected, as there are more than eighty-four shark species already registered in the North Atlantic. However, in Daytona Beach (and Florida), at least 45 species of shark were already registered, and 15 are more common, including some beautiful and rare animals.
The 15 most common shark species in Daytona Beach are:
- Lemon Shark
- Blacktip Shark
- Tiger Shark
- Great Hammerhead Shark
- Bull Shark
- Caribbean Reef Shark
- Nurse Shark
- Sandbar Shark
- Silky Shark
- Dusky Shark
- Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
- Smooth Hammerhead Shark
- Whale Shark
- Bonnethead Shark
- Smalltooth Sawfish (Ray, not a shark)
The Lemon Shark is the most common shark off the coast of Daytona Beach. They are known to migrate to Floridian waters annually for mating. Blacktip sharks are also seen very often in the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” as some call Daytona. All of these 15 species are common, but in the following list, you can see more species of these incredible creatures that can be eventually seen around Florida.
- Shortfin Mako Shark
- Porbeagle Shark
- Blue Shark
- Oceanic Whitetip Shark
- Thresher Shark
- Spinner Shark
- Finetooth Shark
- Blacknose Shark
- Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
- Smooth Dogfish
- Spiny Dogfish
- Atlantic Angel Shark
- Basking Shark
- Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark
- Bigeye Sixgill Shark
- Bignose Shark
- Caribbean Sharpnose Shark
- Galapagos Shark
- Leopard Shark
- Longfin Mako Shark
- Narrowtooth Shark
- Night Shark
- Sand Tiger Shark
- Sharpnose Sevengill Shark
- Sixgill Shark
- Smalltail Shark
- Bigeye Thresher Shark
- Common Thresher Shark
- Great White Shark
Related Article: Are There Sharks In Delaware River? (Surprising Answer)
Shark Bite Capital Of The World
Daytona Beach is situated in Volusia County, and if you’re afraid of sharks, that may be bad news for you. The reason is simple: Volusia County is known as the “shark bite capital of the world,” as there are more shark attacks in this area than anywhere else on Earth. The chances of a shark bite in Volusia are ten times higher than the average. However, even here, fatal shark attacks are rare.
According to ISAF, to this day, there are 3,292 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in the entire world, covering the period from the early 1500s to the present. International Shark Attack File (ISAF) is the world’s only scientifically documented, comprehensive database of all known shark attacks.
- Unprovoked shark attacks in the World: 3292
- Unprovoked shark attacks in the United States: 1563
- Unprovoked shark attacks in Florida: 896
- Unprovoked shark attacks in Volusia County: 337 (more than 10% of all attacks in the world).
Out of 3,292 unprovoked incidents, 1,563 occurred in the United States (the top 1 country in the world in shark incidents). The main reason for the high numbers in the US is the state of Florida, with 896 shark attacks registered. Out of 896, 337 were incidents in Volusia County. That means that more than 10% of all the confirmed unprovoked shark attacks took place in Volusia County.
|TOP 5 COUNTRIES||UNPROVOKED ATTACKS|
|Republic of South Africa||258|
Looking at these numbers alone, it may feel like entering the waters in Florida, especially in Daytona Beach is an awful idea. But it’s not true. The numbers in Volusia County are indeed higher than average, but it’s still improbable to suffer a shark bite while swimming in Florida. Most victims in this location are surfers, and most shark bites are not fatal. Of the 896 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida, only 36 were fatal, with the last casualty registered in 2010.
In the following section, you can check the odds of dying in a shark attack compared to other 18 things that are more likely to kill you than a shark.
Related Article: Are There Sharks In Bar Harbor Maine? (Full Guide)
18 Things More Likely To Kill You Than Sharks
You should be way more afraid of eating junk food and not exercising than of sharks. At least according to this fantastic table brought by Florida Museum, the odds of dying from heart disease are 1 in 5 (with 652,486 annual deaths). There are even more chances of dying hit by lightning (1 in 79,746) than a shark attack (1 in 4,332,817).
|DISEASE AND ACCIDENTAL CAUSES OF DEATHS||ANNUAL DEATHS||DEATH RISK DURING ONE’S LIFETIME|
|Heart disease||652,486||1 in 5|
|Cancer||553,888||1 in 7|
|Stroke||150,074||1 in 24|
|Hospital Infections||99,000||1 in 38|
|Flu||59,664||1 in 63|
|Car accidents||44,757||1 in 84|
|Suicide||31,484||1 in 119|
|Accidental poisoning||19,456||1 in 193|
|MRSA (resistant bacteria)||19,000||1 in 197|
|Falls||17,229||1 in 218|
|Drowning||3,306||1 in 1,134|
|Bike accident||762||1 in 4,919|
|Air/space accident||742||1 in 5,051|
|Excessive cold||620||1 in 6,045|
|Sun/heat exposure||273||1 in 13,729|
|Lightning||47||1 in 79,746|
|Train crash||24||1 in 156,169|
|Fireworks||11||1 in 340,733|
|Shark related fatalities||1||1 in 4,332,817|
Shark Species In Daytona Beach: Complete Guide
I’ve prepared an in-depth description of the shark species recorded in Daytona Beach for this section. There are some rare and beautiful animals in this list, including three different species of Hammerheads, the biggest species of shark, and 2 of the three most aggressive species on Earth.
- Total Number of Shark Species In Daytona Beach: 45 (At Least)
- Most Frequently Seen: Lemon Shark / Blacktip Shark
- Most Dangerous/Aggressive Species: Bull Shark / Tiger Shark
- Biggest Sharks Found In Daytona Beach: Whale Shark (biggest shark in the world).
The gigantic Whale Shark is one of the most incredible species in Daytona Beach. Whale sharks are the largest globally, reaching up to 18 meters (almost 60 ft). The hammerheads are also beautiful sharp-teeth species found in Daytona Beach. Actually, there are three different species of hammerheads in the area: Great Hammerhead Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, and Smooth Hammerhead Shark.
Also, the Great White, considered the most aggressive and dangerous species of shark is the most common shark in Maine. Even so, the chances of an unprovoked incident in Bar Harbor are extremely low. In the following table, you can find information about all the sharks found in Maine.
|Species||Scientific Name||Max Size||Aggressiveness|
|Lemon Shark||Negaprion brevirostris||Up to 3.7 m|
|Blacktip Shark||Carcharhinus limbatus||Up to 2 m|
|Up to 9 m|
|Great Hammerhead Shark||Sphyrna|
|Up to 6 m|
|Bull Shark||Carcharhinus leucas||Up to 2.1 m|
|Caribbean Reef Shark||Carcharhinus|
|Up to 3 m|
(Poisonous To Eat)
|Nurse Shark||Ginglymostoma cirratum||Up to 4.2 m|
|Sandbar Shark||Carcharhinus plumbeus||Up to 2 m|
|Up to 3.5 m|
|Dusky Shark||Carcharhinus obscurus||Up to 3.6 m|
|Scalloped Hammerhead Shark||Sphyrna|
|Up to 4 m|
|Smooth Hammerhead Shark||Sphyrna zygaena||Up to 5 m|
|Up to 18 meters!|
|Bonnethead Shark||Sphyrna tiburo||Up to 1.2 m|
Related Article: Are There Sharks In Barbados? (Detailed Research)
Shark Attacks In Daytona Beach
After extensive research on the two main shark attack databases available online (ISAF and GSAF), I was able to find 49 shark incidents in Daytona Beach since 1500s. Actually, the first attack that took place in Daytona dates back to 1928. The final numbers are described in the following list, and all the attacks are detailed with dates and incident type in a table at the end of this section.
- Total Incidents Reported: 49
- Provoked Attacks: 1
- Unprovoked Attacks: 47
- Invalid Data: 1 (Missing Information, Suspicious Data)
- Fatal Attacks: 1
The only fatal attack registered in the list involved the death of a 19 year old women, named Christy Wapniarski, a student at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona. After a 16′ catamaran capsized in the previous night, its occupants stayed with wreckage until morning, then attempted to swim ashore. Unfortunately, Christy was attacked by a shark and died.
The Tragic Death Of Christy Wapniarski
According to the registers, in August 10, 1981, four young people set off in a catamaran off from the Granada Boulevard approach in Ormond Beach for a day’s sail. On board were Daniel Perrin (21), owner of the boat, and his friends Tami Ennis (21), Randall Cohen (25) and his girlfriend, Christy Wapniarski (19).
They set sail about noon, but after only an hour they have realized that the hull of the catamaran was leaking, and the group returned to shore where Perrin (the boat owner) repaired the hull with duct tape. After the the fast solution, they set sail once again. However, around 18h20 they noticed another leak. Lacking life preservers or jackets, they clung to the craft throughout the night, enduring a strong storm. When dawn came, they were six, possibly nine miles offshore.
Realizing that they couldn’t stay there for long, the group decided to abandon the catamaran and swim to shore. As Christy was not a strong swimmer, Cohen tried to carry her with him. “It was exhausting; I couldn’t do it for more than five minutes at a time.” he said. In an interview afterwards, Ennis said that Christy began thrashing the water and calling for help.
“Christy had yelled something about a shark”Tami Ennis
“I saw her being picked up and down and saw the water around her change color; she came up too high and too fast.” Cohen realized Christy’s right thigh was bitten. “It looked like a bite and a tear and I couldn’t find her left leg,” he said.
“I swam with her for about 15 minutes, but I kept going under.” Randall Cohen and Daniel Perrin tried their best to carry Christy to shore, but they abandoned her body when they realized she was dead. About eight hours later the three survivors staggered ashore near Granada Boulevard. For three days the Coast Guard conducted a massive air search. Unfortunately, they failed to recover Christy’s body.
It’s a very sad story, but it’s the only register of a fatal shark incident near Daytona Beach. For more details about this case you can check the official GASF shark attack investigation report.
All The 49 Shark Attacks In Daytona Beach
|06-May-2021||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|16-Sep-2020||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Swimming||Invalid||No|
|26-May-2018||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Standing||Unprovoked||No|
|17-Apr-2017||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||–||Unprovoked||No|
|26-Jul-2015||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|17-Jun-2015||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|05-Jul-2009||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Boogie Boarding||Unprovoked||No|
|05-Sep-2007||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|03-Sep-2007||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Jumping||Unprovoked||No|
|10-Oct-2006||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|19-Apr-2006||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Standing||Unprovoked||No|
|27-Jul-2005||Florida||Zelda Boulevard, Daytona Beach||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|28-May-2005||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|10-Jun-2004||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|22-Nov-2003||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|13-Sep-2003||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Body boarding||Unprovoked||No|
|15-Jul-2003||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|03-May-2003||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Walking||Unprovoked||No|
|20-Apr-2003||Florida||Sunglow Pier, Daytona Beach||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|05-Sep-2002||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Wading, when he stepped on the shark||Provoked||No|
|19-Mar-2002||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Swimming / boogie boarding||Unprovoked||No|
|11-Sep-2000||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Swimming / Body surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|10-Jul-2000||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|04-Jul-2000||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|30-Oct-1999||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Body boarding||Unprovoked||No|
|08-Jun-1998||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|04-Oct-1997||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|02-Jun-1997||Florida||Daytona Beach Shores||Body surfing, stood up on sandbar||Unprovoked||No|
|17-Sep-1995||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|15-Aug-1995||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|31-May-1994||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|07-Jul-1993||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Playing||Unprovoked||No|
|05-Jun-1988||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|01-Jun-1988||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|30-Nov-1986||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|Sep-1986||Florida||Ormond Beach / Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|25-Jul-1985||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|13-Oct-1983||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|01-Jul-1982||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
|25-Jun-1982||Florida||Ormond Beach / Daytona Beach|
|10-Aug-1981||Florida||Ormond Beach / Daytona Beach||Sea Disaster / Swimming||Unprovoked||Yes|
|05-Aug-1979||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Kayaking||Unprovoked||No|
|12-Aug-1975||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Floating on |
a small raft
|Reported 02-Jun-1975||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surfing||Unprovoked||No|
|20-May 1975||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Bathing||Unprovoked||No|
|01-Nov-1974||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Standing||Unprovoked||No|
|26-Jul-1971||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Wading||Unprovoked||No|
|23-Sep-1956||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Surf fishing||Unprovoked||No|
|Reported 24-Jun-1928||Florida||Daytona Beach, Volusia County||Swimming||Unprovoked||No|
Has there ever been a shark attack at Daytona Beach? Forty-nine shark attacks took place in Daytona Beach. However, only one of them was fatal and resulted in the death of a 19-year-old woman in 1981. Out of 49 incidents, 47 were unprovoked attacks, one provoked attack, and one invalid incident.
Is it safe to swim at Daytona Beach? Sharks-wise, it’s very safe to swim in Daytona Beach. Despite being located in Volusia County, considered the “shark bite capital of the world,” Daytona is considered safe. Since 1928, only 49 shark incidents have occurred in Daytona Beach, with one fatal victim.
What beach in Florida has the most sharks? New Smyrna Beach, located in Volusia County, is the beach in Florida that has the most shark. Volusia County is considered the “shark bite capital of the world,” with 337 confirmed shark attacks registered. That’s about 10% of the incidents in the world.
Does Daytona Beach have great white sharks? Great White sharks have already been recorded in Daytona Beach. Even though they are not common in the area, Great White sharks are migratory species, and some sightings in Florida and Daytona Beach have been confirmed in the past years.
How many shark attacks have there been in Daytona Beach? There have been forty-nine confirmed shark attacks in Daytona Beach since 1928. However, only one of them was fatal and resulted in the death of Christy Wapniarski, a 19-year-old woman, in 1981.
Where is the shark bite capital of the world? Volusia County, in Florida, is considered the “shark bite capital of the world.” With 337 confirmed shark attacks registered, Volusia County alone accounts for more than 10% of all the unprovoked shark incidents on Earth (3292 episodes).
- Shark Attack Data: http://www.sharkattackdata.com/place/united_states_of_america/florida
- Global Shark Attack File (GSAF): https://www.sharkattackfile.net/
- Florida Museum: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/
- International Shark Attack File (ISAF): https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/
- Sea Grant Florida: Common sharks of Florida
- Shark Tours: Shark species of Florida
- Outforia: Sharks in Florida
- Florida GoFishing: Shark species | Shark ID Guide