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The Deadliest Decade for Shark Attacks in Greece

Great white shark
A great white shark, the species most commonly associated with shark attack incidents in Greece, although this species is rare in Greek waters. Credit: Bernard DUPONT / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

When holidaying in Greece, few pause and think of the dangers that could be lurking below the idyllic Aegean waters, but an academic paper published last month has revealed new insights about the frequency of shark attacks in Greece.

The paper, authored by Christos Taklis, provides a detailed statistical breakdown of shark attacks occurring in Greece over the past 180 years.

Thankfully, swimmers in Greece can rest assured that such incidents are mostly relegated to the Jaws movies and incidents are very rare. Nevertheless, an appropriate degree of caution and care should be taken when enjoying time spent in the water.

New study examines shark attacks in Greece

The new study appeared in March in the International Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Studies. The author of the study collected data from a variety of sources to build a comprehensive profile of incidents occurring in Greece between the years 1847 and 1981.

According to the study, the deadliest decade for recorded shark attacks in Greek waters was the 1950s. Over this ten-year period, there were a total of six incidents, five of which proved fatal.

Taklis theorizes that the increase in recorded incidents in the 1950s “may reflect increased reporting and awareness of shark attacks during that period.”

During many of the incidents, the species of shark involved in the attack could not be identified. In cases where identification could be established, great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias Linnaeus) were the species most commonly involved.

The overall picture though, is that shark attacks in Greece are rare. Over the 180-year period examined in the paper, there were only 15 total recorded incidents.

The victims

“The victim profile of recorded shark attacks in Greece is consistent with global trends, with the majority of victims being male and engaged in water activities such as swimming and diving,” explains Taklis.

Ten of the victims were male, four were female, and three remain unidentified.

“The relatively young age of the victims may reflect the popularity of these activities among young people,” the author continues.

Most of the victims were attacked in Corfu, where six incidents were recorded. Two attacks also took place in Attica, with just one incident recorded each for the Cyclades, Thessaly, and the Pagasitikos Gulf. Some of the locations remain unknown.

Shark attacks in Greece are rare

The author of the study could not identify any shark attacks which took place in the country after the last recorded incident in 1981.

Taklis concluded that “the low incidence of recorded shark attacks in Greece over the last 180 years suggests that the risk of shark attacks in Greece is generally low.”

However, he urges that ” continued monitoring and awareness of potential risks associated with swimming and participating in water activities in Greece is essential.”

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