Myth Busting: Do Great White Sharks Eat Humans?

do great white sharks eat humans

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Great white sharks have a fierce reputation and for good reason. These predators can grow as large as 20 feet long and weigh as much as 1,100kg (2,425 pounds).

They’re found in many oceans around the world, often in coastal and offshore waters that have warmer temperatures, such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.

Widely regarded as one of the most dangerous sharks, great whites are responsible for 326 attacks on humans with 52 of them being fatal.

This brings up an interesting question that we’re going to discuss in detail in this post, do great white sharks eat humans?

Whilst it may seem clear from the number of attacks that great white sharks enjoy the taste of humans, the truth may surprise you.

So if this question has ever crossed your mind, stick around because you’re in the right place!

Do Great White Sharks Eat Humans?

No, great white sharks DO NOT eat humans. They’re much more interested in eating prey that’s part of their natural diets such as seals, sea lions, rays, and crustaceans.

It’s true that these sharks are up there with the most aggressive of all shark species, but it’s extremely rare for great white sharks to attack humans.

These top predators are aware that humans are not part of their natural diet so they typically avoid human interaction.

do great white sharks eat humans
Image by Elias Levy

Despite what the media portrays, they are not out to harm or eat humans and will not go out of their way to attack people.

That’s not to say that they are gentle giants that just want a cuddle and a cup of tea, but they’re certainly not the menacing, evil creatures that Hollywood has made them out to be.

Do Great White Sharks Attack Humans?

Yes, great white sharks do attack humans. Whilst they are not actively seeking out humans to attack and eat, they do sometimes attack humans, but these incidents are rare.

These sharks are apex predators that are known to attack swimmers and surfers that are in the waters where these sharks reside.

It’s important to note that most great white shark attacks are not fatal, when the shark realizes that it’s a human, it often backs off and aborts the attack.

The number of great white shark attacks varies year on year and it’s generally considered a very rare occurrence.

According to the Worldanimalfoundation, the great white shark has been responsible for a recorded 52 human fatal bites and has been involved in 326 unprovoked attacks.

Whilst this may seem like a lot of attacks, this data is collected since humans started recording shark attacks which has been done for a very long time.

It’s also worth noting that these numbers represent unprovoked shark attacks, which are defined as incidents where an attack on a person occurs in the shark’s natural habitat without provocation from a human.

There are also provoked shark attacks which occur when a person interacts with a shark in some way that causes it to attack.

These are incidents that may involve fishing or spearfishing where the shark feels threatened and is defending itself.

Why Do Great White Sharks Attack People?

So if great white sharks are not interested in eating humans, but they are responsible for numerous attacks, why is this happening?

Well, it’s an interesting topic that has been debated for many years, and there are a number of reasons why sharks attack people even though they don’t want to eat them.

The main reason that is the cause of most unprovoked shark attacks is misidentification, where the shark mistakes the human for prey such as a seal.

Great white sharks have excellent vision during the day, but during the hours of dusk and dawn when the sun impacts visibility, their vision diminishes and misidentification can occur.

They are visual hunters that rely on their eyesight heavily when hunting and identifying prey.

Surfers, divers, and swimmers can easily be mistaken for the shark’s natural prey, especially if they are wearing wet suits.

Researchers also believe that great white sharks may attack people out of investigatory behavior, they are naturally curious animals that use their mouths to investigate their surroundings.

If they see something unfamiliar, they may use their mouth, which just so happens to be filled with large razor-sharp teeth to check it out.

As you would expect, this is disastrous for humans that are essentially bags of flesh, as even touching a great white shark’s mouth could inflict massive damage.

Another reason why great white sharks attack human is out of self-defense or feeling provoked/threatened.

If a human tries to grab, touch, or come too close to these formidable predators (no idea why anyone would but there are some wacky people out there), they may find themselves in a world of trouble.

As a whole, it’s clear that a number of reasons contribute to great white shark attacks on humans, but it’s also apparent that they are not trying to eat or kill humans as they back off immediately after attacking.

Do Sharks Find Humans Tasty?

No, sharks do not find humans tasty. If you think about it, we’re essentially a bag of bones that is covered in a small layer of flesh, not exactly the most nourishing meal for these huge predators.

Not only do humans not taste very nice to sharks, but they are also filled with bones that are hard to digest and break down.

do great white sharks eat humans
Image by Elias Levy

They would much rather feed on animals that offer more sustenance, such as whales, seals, and other marine mammals that are covered in thick blubber.

Humans are also not a reliable food source for sharks as we live on land, therefore, sharks rarely encounter humans in the wild so have evolved to not bother with us.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, NO, great white sharks DO NOT eat humans. They eat marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and other marine life such as crustaceans and fish.

Whilst they are known to be some of the most aggressive sharks on the planet, they are not interested in eating humans as we are not part of their natural diets.

When great white sharks do attack humans, they back off almost immediately after biting which suggests it’s a case of misidentification and not to eat humans.

Hopefully, this post has helped shed some light on great white shark attacks and the reasons for them.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about these amazing creatures and I’ll catch you next time!