The 10 Most Dangerous Sharks


Shortfin Mako

This list won't include the biggest shark, the whale shark, which eats by filtering little pieces of plankton out of the water and is thus uninterested in humans. But this list does include the fastest shark, the shortfin mako, which has been clocked at 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour [source: Allen].

Although the shortfin mako has only been blamed for eight unprovoked attacks and two human fatalities, it ranks second only to the great white shark for attacks on boats, notching up 20 in comparison to the great white's 95 [source: ISAF]. In one report, the mako's bite was enough to sink the boat in three minutes [source: Allen]. For this reason, the shortfin mako may be the most dangerous shark for fishermen.

Conversely, fishermen are dangerous to the mako, which is a prize catch in the game-fishing world because of its speed, aggression and long jumps out of the water. When hooked, the mako becomes extremely violent, sometimes harming the fishermen or the boat in the process. It's used to putting up a fight; its main prey, the swordfish, often attacks it in the course of the hunt. Novelist Zane Gray once wrote that a look into the mako's eyes revealed "a creature that would kill as he was being killed" [source: Lineaweaver].

Some of these incidents with fishermen are considered "provoked," so the mako ranks slightly higher in provoked attacks than unprovoked. Because the mako lives in deeper waters, fishermen and divers might be the only two groups that need to worry about this vigorously strong fish. Divers report that the mako swims in a figure-eight pattern with its mouth open as it tries to determine whether to attack [source: Compagno].

On the next page, see which shark has a taste for sailors.