Do Sharks Come Close to Shore? [Know Why & When]

In movies, you might see sharks dangerously close to shore. Although these movie scenes are not original, sharks can come close to the shore.

Extensive studies have demonstrated that sharks often approach shorelines, even though the chances of a shark attack are rare. In this article, we’ll explore why sharks venture close to shorelines and whether swimming in the sea is safe.

Do Sharks Come Close to Shore?

Sharks have long been known to venture quite close to shore, particularly when seeking out their favourite meals. In contrast, it may seem like a dangerous and frightening prospect, but many species of sharks actually frequent shorelines all over the world in search of prey. This is because most shark species feed on smaller fish, crustaceans and cephalopods, which often inhabit coastal waters.

Certain species, such as Great Whites and Tiger Sharks, can be more aggressive, but they, too, are often found near coastal regions due to their migratory nature and preference for warm waters.

These two shark species are also believed to feed mainly on larger prey items such as seals, sea lions, dolphins and other marine mammals, which can sometimes be found in greater abundance closer to shore.

Even in cases where these predators are further offshore, they’ve been known to travel great distances in order to pursue a particular food source or mate – often leading them directly into shallow waters and closer proximity to humans.

shark at the shore

In addition to their migratory tendencies, certain types of sharks are also thought to use shallow water as a safe haven from large predators like killer whales or larger shark species.

With so many reasons prompting sharks towards our coastlines, it’s no wonder why we so frequently hear reports of them getting close enough for people to spot from nearby beaches!

How Close Can Sharks Get to The Shore?

Sharks, the fascinating creatures that inhabit coastal waters around the world, usually stay within a range of 60-100 feet from shore. However, The Florida Museum of Natural History research has found that most shark attacks occur within 6 to 10 feet of land – revealing just how close these mysterious sea dwellers can be!

Also Read: What Caused Shark Attack in Bahamas?

One study found that Bull Sharks – one of the most commonly observed nearshore-dwelling species – were spotted more than 99% of the time within 8m (26 feet) of the shoreline.

It is believed that most shark attacks occur when sharks become confused by human swimmers entering their natural habitat and become startled or aggressive as a result.

Additionally, food sources such as fish can sometimes draw sharks closer to shore – especially where there is an abundance of fish in shallow waters near the beach. People must remember that while they may encounter sharks close to shore, it is unlikely, given how rarely attacks actually occur.

See also  Are Dolphins Faster Than Sharks?

Why Do Sharks Come Close to Shore?

Sharks come close to shore for various reasons. Here they are-

Food availability

One of the primary reasons sharks come close to shore is that it is a rich hunting ground. Predators in the ocean are attracted to areas with high concentrations of prey, and these areas often occur near shoreline habitats.

For example, many fish species use shallow coastal waters as spawning grounds. This creates a natural gathering place for prey species and predators alike, which can attract sharks closer to shore.


In addition, some species of sharks feed on invertebrates that inhabit shallow waters along the coastline, such as crabs and molluscs.

Migratory habits

Another reason why sharks may come close to shore is due to their seasonal migrations. Many shark species migrate annually from one region to another in order to find food or avoid colder temperatures.

These migratory patterns can bring some shark species into shallower waters near the coastlines during certain times of the year. This behaviour benefits both predators and prey alike by providing a supply of food within easy reach without having to travel too far from shore.

Habitat suitability

Lastly, sharks may be attracted to coastal habitats because they provide suitable living conditions.

For example, many shark species thrive in warm tropical waters near shorelines worldwide. These environments can contain an abundance of food sources that make them ideal habitats for these predators when compared with colder offshore waters.

Additionally, coastal regions typically have plenty of shelter spots available for hiding from potential predators or escaping extreme weather events like storms or hurricanes.

Which Sharks Mostly Come Close to The Shore?

Many types of sharks come relatively close to shore, including the most common species seen in these environments, such as blacktip sharks, bull sharks, nurse sharks, great white sharks, and tiger sharks.

Blacktip sharks typically inhabit nearshore tropical and subtropical waters around the world, often swimming near the surface over continental and insular reefs. They are typically found in shallow waters up to depths of 100 feet (30 m) but have been recorded as deep as 1,000 feet (300 m).


Bull sharks are another species that commonly inhabit nearshore continental shelf habitats, often living in estuaries and river mouths. They prefer warm climates and can be found from the intertidal zone down to depths of 500 feet (150 m).

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Nurse sharks are more sedentary bottom-dwelling fish that tend to stay in one place for extended periods of time. These animals typically live in shallower waters between 10–60 feet (3–18 m) deep and commonly rest on or close to rocky outcrops or coral reefs at sheltered bays or lagoons.

Great white sharks inhabit cooler regions of the world, where they are found most often in nearshore coastal waters. They prefer temperate and sub-tropical habitats such as those found around South Africa, Australia, California, and New England.

Finally, tiger sharks are also frequent visitors to coastal regions around the world, especially those with adjacent continental shelves. These animals prefer inshore habitats with temperatures above 68°F (20°C) at depths of up to 350 feet (107m).

In addition to these species, other coastal-dwelling shark species include hammerheads, lemon sharks and great white sharks.

Which Sharks Never Come Close to The Shore?

Some shark species are not typically found in nearshore waters and instead prefer deeper offshore habitats. These include the whale shark, basking shark, megamouth shark, as well as most filter-feeding sharks such as angel sharks, saw sharks and carpet sharks.

Whale sharks are the largest known fish species on earth and can grow up to lengths of 40–50 feet (12–15 m). They are found in the open ocean and prefer warmer tropical waters at depths of around 350–660 feet (107–200 m).

On the other hand, basking sharks inhabit temperate waters along continental shelves. These animals are filter-feeders that prefer to swim near the surface from depths of 33–660 feet (10–200 m).

Megamouth sharks are large filter-feeding animals that usually occupy midwater depths from 330–1,640 feet (100–500 m). They have been spotted in the open ocean as well as coastal waters but do not seem to be common in nearshore habitats.

The filter-feeding sharks, such as angel sharks, saw sharks and carpet sharks, are normally not observed near the shoreline. Instead, they commonly reside in depths of 660–2,950 feet (200–900 m) across the open ocean away from land.

When Sharks Attack on Shore: How to Respond

Remain calm

It can be difficult to stay calm when faced with a life-threatening situation, but if a shark attacks you on shore, remain as composed as possible. When confronted with danger, the body naturally goes into fight-or-flight mode, and an adrenaline rush can cause you to act irrationally, which will only increase the risk of injury.

Taking deep breaths and focusing on the steps needed for immediate safety is essential in this scenario.

See also  Galapagos Shark: Habitat, Diet, Anatomy & Fun Facts

Stay out of the water

The moment you realize that a shark has made its way dangerously close to shore, it is vital that you move away from the water immediately and get out of the ocean or river if possible.


Staying out of the water will make it more difficult for the shark to reach you, thus increasing your chances of survival. If there are other people in the area, alert them, too, so they don’t become potential victims as well.

Make loud noises

One strategy used by beachgoers to ward off sharks is vigorously splashing around in shallow waters or pounding on something hard near them (such as a surfboard).

Making loud noises will scare away some species of sharks who are easily startled by such activity; particularly timid species like blacktip reef sharks or small nurse sharks may not even put up much of a fight if intimidated enough. This method also works best if combined with other strategies, such as staying out of the water until help arrives. 

Call for help

If you determine that the threat level is high enough and you cannot escape without putting yourself at risk, then calling for help should be your next step. Depending on where you are located, it may be necessary to call 911 or local law enforcement/emergency services so they can send out boats and personnel to assist in getting rid of any unwanted predators nearby.

Don’t hesitate; seek professional help right away because even if there is no immediate danger, it’s more than likely best to err on the side of caution in these situations. 

Be aware of your surroundings

When swimming in open waters such as oceans, lakes or rivers (especially during dusk or dawn hours), always be aware of your surroundings because this is when most sharks tend to feed and come close to shorelines looking for food sources – though rare, attacks do occur from time to time so staying alert will lower chances of becoming preyed upon unexpectedly.

Also, avoid swimming alone; try going with at least one other person since two sets of eyes will also make detecting a potential threat slightly easier than just one pair would have been able to spot on their own.


Now, you now know that sharks often come close to the shore due to food sources. If you ever happen to be face-to-face with a shark on land, remain calm and adhere carefully to the advice previously discussed. With these tips in mind, we hope you never find yourself confronted by a shark while near the shore!

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