Are there sharks in France? France is a wonderful country. Its metropolitan area (European France) borders four different branches of the sea: the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel, and the North Sea. The country is fantastic and attracts thousands of tourists due to its excellent cuisine (considered the best in the world), historic cities, and great monuments such as the Eiffel Tower.
However, the French coast is also a paradisiac place, and the French Riviera has some of the most beautiful European beaches. So despite shark attacks being very unlikely, it is normal for some travelers to be concerned about these ferocious sharp-teeth animals in French waters. But is this something to be worried about?
Forty-seven shark species have been confirmed in France coast, most of them in the Mediterranean Sea. However, there are sharks in the North Atlantic Sea and the English Channel as well. Attacks in France are rare, with only 13 shark incidents ever registered, with three fatal victims.
Despite the confirmation of forty-seven species, the number can be even higher as there are more than 400 species of shark worldwide. Moreover, as it’s hard to keep track of all the marine life, some other species may be passing through or living in French waters.
In this article, you’ll find a complete guide detailing the 18 Most Common Sharks Species in France. Also, you’ll find out the most frequent shark found in French waters, if it’s true that there are Great White Sharks in the country, and complete research about all the Shark Attacks in France.
To learn all about Sharks In France, read on.
Are There Sharks In France? (Common Species)
Metropolitan France (or European France) extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea. As there are more than 400 species of shark in the world and the country is bordered by different branches of the sea, it’s expected that some species can be found in French waters.
There are 47 species of shark in France, and the most common are:
- Basking Shark
- Common Thresher Shark
- Great White Shark
- Shortfin Mako Shark
- Whale Shark
- Spiny Dogfish
- Tope Shark
- Blacktip Reef Sharks
- Blue Sharks
- Angel Shark
- Kitefin Shark
- Longfin Mako
- Sandbar Shark
- Shortnose Spurdog
- Hammerheads (3 species)
The three species of shark found in French waters are the Smooth Hammerhead Shark, the Great Hammerhead Shark, and the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark. However, the Blue Shark is the most frequent shark species in France, with reported sightings and news in the past years. They are beautiful animals with a distinct blue color, long bodies, and conical snouts and can grow up to 4 meters (13 ft).
According to Florida Museum, the Blue Shark is not aggressive, but it is a curious shark known to approach divers and fishermen, especially when there is food available (hooked or speared fish). ISAF data shows that the Blue Shark was involved in 13 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide. This data is enough to classify this shark as Not Aggressive (Potentially Dangerous) on the SharksInsider scale of aggressiveness.
- Sharks Species In France: 47 (At least)
- Most Frequently Seen: Blue Sharks
- Most Dangerous/Aggressive Species: Great White Shark
- Biggest Sharks In France: Whale Sharks
In the following table, you can check details about the 18 Most Common Sharks in France, including scientific name, maximum reported size, and level of aggressiveness.
|Species||Scientific Name||Maximum Size||Aggressiveness|
|Angelshark||Squatina squatina||Up to 2.5 m|
|Basking Shark||Cetorhinus maximus||Up to 12 m|
|Blacktip Reef Shark||Carcharhinus melanopterus||Up to 2 m|
|Blue Shark||Prionace glauca||Up to 4 m|
|Common Thresher Shark||Alopias vulpinus||Up to 5.8m|
|Great Hammerhead Shark||Sphyrna mokarran||Up to 6 m|
|Great White Shark||Carcharodon carcharias||Up to 6.4 m|
|Kitefin Shark||Dalatias licha||Up to 1.8 m|
|Longfin Mako Shark||Isurus paucus||Up to 4.2 m|
|Porbeagle||Lamna nasus||Up to 3.5 m|
|Sandbar Shark||Carcharhinus plumbeus||Up to 2 m|
|Scalloped Hammerhead Shark||Sphyrna lewini||Up to 4 m|
|Shortfin Mako Shark||Isurus oxyrinchus||Up to 4 m|
|Shortnose Spurdog||Squalus megalops||Up to 90 cm|
(Poisonous To Eat)
|Smooth Hammerhead Shark||Sphyrna zygaena||Up to 5 m|
|Spiny Dogfish||Squalus acanthias||Up to 1.5 m|
|Tope Shark||Galeorhinus galeus||Up to 2 m|
|Whale Shark||Rhincodon typus||Up to 18 m!|
The aggressiveness scale I’ve been using in all the articles was created by myself to be used by Sharks Insider. All the research was carefully made using data from the Fishbase library, the Florida Museum shark database, and reports from shark attacks listed in ISAF (International Shark Attack File) and GSAF (Global Shark Attack File).
Finally, it’s important to notice that shark attacks are very rare, and despite the aggressiveness level of such species being higher than average does not mean that they will always attack.
Great White Sharks In France
Great White Sharks are known to live on the coast of France, especially in shallow coastal waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Sightings are not as usual as other species, such as Blue Sharks, but there are reports and confirmed evidence of them appearing near the French coast from time to time.
Great White Shark Filmed In Saint-Tropez
In this video filmed by Stéphane Pellegrin on August 3, 2012, it’s possible to see a Great White Shark in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, just 300 meters off the French Mediterranean coast.
Great White Shark In Camargue
Now, more recently, in September 2022, a Great White Shark was spotted off France’s Mediterranean coast. The sighting of the 5 meters specimen occurred about 5 km off Camargue.
But videos and sighting reports are not the only evidence of White Sharks in France. Academic research confirmed their presence in the area: “Historical and contemporary presence of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias (Linnaeus, 1758), along the Mediterranean coast of France”. The study is from 2009, published by the researchers Alessandro De Maddalena and Marco Zuffa.
The study shows that the presence of Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) throughout the Mediterranean Sea has been cataloged for a long time, and France is not the favorite location for these sharks in the Mediterranean Sea. Still, most of the Great White confirmed records on the French coast took place in the Golfe du Lion, followed by the waters of Côte d’Azur and Corsica.
|Region||% of Great Whites|
|Golfe du Lion||79,07%|
The study also shows some amazing pictures. In the following image, it’s possible to see that Great White has been seen (and captured, unfortunately) on the coast of France for a long time. These are reportedly three of the largest White Sharks ever recorded in France:
- a) 1800 kg white shark caught in 1956 off Marseille.
- b) 600 cm female white shark (estimated at 591 cm) caught on January 9, 1991, off Sète.
- c) cast of a 589 cm female white shark caught on October 13, 1956, off Sète, preserved in the Musée cantonal de Zoologie de Lausanne, Switzerland.
Finally, according to GSAF (Global Shark Attack File), at least 3 of the 13 shark attacks recorded in France involved Great White Sharks. However, the number can be even higher, as there are nine incidents where the victims could not identify the shark species.
Are There Shark Attacks In France?
Shark attacks are very rare events in the world. Even in the United States, the country with more incidents, the odds of dying in a shark attack are low. For example, according to ISAF (Internation Shark Attack File), you have way more chances of dying hit by lightning (1 in 79,746) than in a shark-related fatality (1 in 4,332,817).
However, in France, the odds are probably even lower. After extensive research using the GSAF(Global Shark Attack File), I found only 13 records of shark incidents in the country since 1554, with the last fatal victim in 1894. Three attacks were deadly, but one of them was a provoked incident when a harpooned shark bit and tore off a fisherman’s leg.
- Number of Shark Attacks In France: 13 records (GSAF)
- Fatal Attacks: 3
- Unprovoked: 7
- Provoked: 3
- Watercraft: 1
- Invalid: 2
The last two shark attacks in France occurred in 2013 and 2014, both non-fatal. In the following table, you can check all the shark incidents recorded in France, that I collected from the GSAF (Global Shark Attack File).
|23-May-2014||Wallis and Futuna||Wallis Island||Scuba diving||Unprovoked||N|
|26-Aug-2013||Bay of Biscay||–||Fishing sharks||Provoked||N|
|Aug-1986||Gulf of Lyons||Gruissan||–||Unprovoked||N|
|15-Jul-1894||Provence||la Badine, Hyères||Fishing||Unprovoked||Y|
|18-Sep-1864||Alpes Maritime||Antibes||Dragging a shark||Provoked||N|
|1767||Côte d’Azur||St. Tropez||Bathing||Invalid||–|
|Ca. 1554||Nice & Marseilles||–||–||Unprovoked||Unknown|
Are there sharks around France? Forty-seven shark species have been confirmed around France, including Great White Sharks and Whale Sharks (the biggest species on Earth). However, shark attacks in French waters are rare, with only 13 incidents reported since 1554 and 3 fatal victims.
What kind of sharks are in France? Out of the 47 species of shark in France, the most common is the Blue Sharks. However, other species are frequent in the area, such as Hammerheads, Basking Sharks, Whale Sharks, Mako Sharks (Shortfin and Longfin), and even Great White Sharks.
Does France have great white sharks? Great White Sharks have been confirmed in France for a long time. Sightings are not frequent, but the French region with more Great Whites is Golfe du Lion, in the Mediterranean Sea. White Sharks were the species involved in three shark attacks in France.
Are there sharks in the French Mediterranean? There are forty-seven species of shark living in the French Mediterranean. The most common shark in the Mediterranean coast of France is the Blue Shark, followed after by Hammerheads and Whale Sharks.
- Shark Attack Data: https://www.sharkattackdata.com/
- 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/
- Fishbase: https://www.fishbase.org.au/v4
- ConexxionFrance: https://www.connexionfrance.com/
- White Sharks Study: https://researchgate.net/