Holiday lovers and sea explorers often ask themselves this question, “are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea?”
The answer is YES. There exists over 500 known species of sharks distributed across the world’s oceans and seas, including the Mediterranean Sea.
Different species of sharks prefer different environments. Some prefer coral reefs while others prefer tropical waters.
The Mediterranean Sea connects to the Atlantic Ocean through the Straits of Gibraltar.
This means that the majority of the shark species found in the Atlantic Ocean can be found in the Mediterranean Sea.
However, only those sharks that prefer living in warm waters can live and thrive in the Mediterranean environment.
The Mediterranean Sea is home to over 47 shark species but majority are in the waters and visitors rarely come across them.
The Mediterranean’s cool and fish-rich waters make it an ideal hunting habitat for a variety of shark species.
Furthermore, the 2.5-million-square-kilometer body of water contains a diverse range of habitats, ranging from sandy bays to rock reefs to coral gardens and more.
In some rare instances, the sharks can pose danger to the swimmers if provoked.
These apex ocean predators are among the most misunderstood sea creatures.
They play an underrated role in maintaining a critical balance in the marine ecosystem within which they live.
Most species are harmless but can attack if they feel threatened from either fishing activities or hostility from the tourists.
We shall dive into the various common species of sharks that call the Med’s waters home.
Are there Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea? Types of Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea
As mentioned earlier, the Mediterranean Sea is home to over 47 species of sharks.
This post will take a closer look at the most common species found in these waters. They include:
One of the most prevalent sharks in the Mediterranean Sea is the blue shark.
They prefer deeper, slightly cooler water and only come close to the coast when they are extremely young, wandering, ill, or injured.
Blue sharks are notorious for their size, which may reach a stunning 10 feet from tip to tail.
There have been several accounts of sightings of these monsters on beaches in Spain, France (particularly Corsica), and Greece, and there have been several swimming prohibitions in recent years due to blues.
They reproduce the fastest of any shark species, which is why they thrive well in the Mediterranean waters.
They can reproduce as early as from 3-4 years old and can reproduce up to 135 pups per delivery.
This is the main reason as to why they are among the most prevalent sharks in the Mediterranean waters.
They are also not dangerous to humans. Beaches may still be closed if a blue shark comes too close, merely for safety purposes.
Despite their intimidating appearance, blue shark attacks on people are uncommon.
Fatal attacks are relatively uncommon. In 2016, one of the few known blue shark attacks in the Mediterranean happened when one bit a man’s hand.
Great White Shark
The great white shark, regarded the deadliest shark species in the world, is responsible for the majority of unprovoked attacks on humans, and by far the most fatalities generally.
These ocean giants can develop to be 20 feet long, weigh up to two tons.
They are estimated to reach top speeds of 16 miles per hour.
The Mediterranean Sea is home to this apex predator.
Although not very common in the Mediterranean Sea, they are the most dangerous sharks in the Meds waters.
When sighted, they cause a lot of panic especially in places frequented by tourists.
The latest sighting happened in Mallorca, Spain in 2018. The sighting alone was recognized across the whole region and it affected the tourism industry greatly.
In 2008, there was a reported attack in Croatia but was not fatal.
Scientists in the region believe that the Strait of Sicily in the Mediterranean is the nursery for these great white sharks.
They believe that the sharks give birth and raise their pups in this environment.
They favor this strait because it has warm water, it’s shallow and it is full of marine life drawn from the Tyrrhenian Sea and the southern Mediterranean.
The waters are safe and food is in abundance. The pups can grow well until they are mature enough to fend for themselves.
Small-tooth Sand Tiger Sharks
The small-tooth sand tiger shark is a rare species of sharks but some have been sighted in the Mediterranean Sea at Shark Point in Beirut.
They gather annually at this point but the purpose of this gathering has remained a mystery to researchers although some speculate that it may be for mating purposes.
This beautiful, little, and rather playful shark species presents no threat to humans.
Many divers find it to be a lovely marine encounter as they pose no danger to humans. They are, however, shy and easily startled by humans.
They should, nevertheless, be on the bucket list of any maritime enthusiast.
Grey Nurse Sharks
This shark rose to fame for being the first species to be listed as a protected shark species in 1984.
Despite the efforts to save their numbers, this species of sharks is still considered endangered in the Mediterranean waters.
The grey nurse shark is one of the most frightening-looking sharks in the Mediterranean.
It has a massive body, may grow up to 10 feet in length, and has many rows of vicious-looking canines that form inward-bent daggers.
They generally lack the mouth size to fatally cause harm to humans.
They’re protected and generally nocturnal, so encounters are quite uncommon, and you’ll be fortunate if you encounter one.
The blacktip sharks are famed for their athletic nature and their superior swimming capabilities.
Blacktip sharks enjoy shallow water, preferring to dwell in depths of less than 30 meters.
They prefer to be near bays, lagoons, and coral reefs rather than out in the open ocean.
If it sounds like the Mediterranean is the ideal habitat, that’s because it is! Yes, black tips are among the most prevalent species of sharks in the Mediterranean waters.
They are sighted commonly around Egypt and Israel and in the eastern region of the Mediterranean Sea.
They are believed to have migrated from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea through the Suez Canal.
Their distinctive feature is the back tip or edge on their fins and in some cases on their tail.
They are average in size with mature ones growing to an average of 4 to 5 feet. However, they are athletic and powerful and are among the fastest swimmers.
They are known to leap out of the water when going after the prey.
Due to this distinctive behavior, they have been a key target for illegal shark hunting and those who hunt them for fun.
The blacktip shark is not believed to be aggressive or dangerous to humans.
There have been reports of them being unduly interested in scuba divers, but they are normally shy and rarely attack.
The Mediterranean Sea is home to three species of hammerhead sharks.
The largest of them all is the Great Hammerhead shark. This sea monster can grow up to 20 feet long.
The Smooth Hammerhead shark is the second one and mature sharks can measure up to 16 feet in length.
The smallest of them is the Scalloped Hammerhead shark. This species rarely grows into huge sizes and they rarely grow past 14 feet in length.
These amazing creatures are easily noticeable due to the distinct shape of their heads, which also distinguishes these three species.
All three have the same broad, flat heads that are characteristic of hammerhead sharks, although the contour of the anterior edge of the head varies.
The scalloped hammerhead’s head is ridged like the edge of a scallop shell, as the name suggests.
The smooth hammerhead’s head is curved in the shape of a crescent. Finally, the great hammerhead has a straight front.
They are best admired from a safe distance or through a shark cage encounter.
While they do not actively target humans, they are fierce apex predators with enormous size, speed and agility.
They can be quite interested in divers, and there have been reports of hammerhead sharks inadvertently hurting humans in unprovoked attacks.
There are no recorded cases of human fatalities.
They are among the endangered species as their fins are used in preparation of shark fin soup that is popular in some parts of the world.
This species of sharks are harmless and among the very many species found in the Mediterranean Sea.
They are smaller in size and less threatening.
They are rarely sighted in the sea waters but once sighted, you cannot clearly recognize it as a shark.
The Mediterranean waters are home to three species of catshark – the black-mouth catshark, the Atlantic catshark and the small-spotted catshark.
The black-mouth and the Atlantic catshark live in the deep sections of the sea and are rarely sighted while the small-spotted catshark lives in the shallow waters around the sandy sea beds and coral reefs.
Malta is where you are likely to encounter these sharks.
Conservation initiatives are underway in Malta to enable catshark populations to grow.
Juvenile catsharks are often released into the ecosystem on a regular basis to help boost their numbers.
Catsharks are smaller in size and their overall body build does not resemble other sharks.
They only reach a maximum length of 3 feet and have slender bodies with a delicate dorsal fin positioned back towards their tail.
Their skin is light brownish-grey with darker markings. Given that they are harmless to people, viewers may simply relax and enjoy the scenery.
This species of shark is regularly mistaken for the black tip shark.
Spinner sharks love warm and shallow environments that do not exceed 100 meters deep.
Their name is coined from their movement maneuvers that the sharks make while attacking their prey.
Rarely do they attack humans and very few cases of spinner shark attacks on humans.
Scientists experience difficulties determining where significant populations of spinner sharks exist.
This is primarily due to the fact that they are difficult to distinguish from the somewhat smaller black tip sharks.
Spinner sharks have colonized the southern Mediterranean’s southern coastal areas, from the end of the Levant to the Suez Canal and along Morocco’s borders.
Spinner sharks are among the endangered species of sharks due to the popularity of their liver oil and fins.
To protect them, they have been listed as vulnerable and fishing bans issued in some areas of the Med’s waters.
Tiger and Bull Sharks
These two shark species are the world’s other two most deadly shark species and there have been recorded cases of human attacks.
The presence of the Bull shark in the Mediterranean has never been established clearly, yet it may be present around the Italian coast.
The Tiger shark is thought to be a permanent resident of the Mediterranean waters.
They are extremely rare and may be transients passing through the Strait of Gibraltar.
So there’s no reason to panic if you happen to visit.
Shortfin Mako Shark
The shortfin mako shark also inhabits the Mediterranean Sea waters.
It’s recognized as one of the fastest sharks on the seas because it has an ultra-streamlined while yet being muscular and stocky.
In fact, People often mistaken them for dolphins from a distance because they can perform aerial flips and spins and can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour in the water.
They love temperate and tropical waters and they have moderate numbers in the Mediterranean Sea although their population continues to decline at an alarming rate.
This has led to them being listed on ICUN list of endangered species and some governments like the Spanish government have imposed bans on commercial fishing of this species.
One of the iconic mako sharks was caught in the Mediterranean Sea in 1881.
The shark caught weighed 1000 kilograms and was 4 meters long. Although these sharks do not have hostilities against humans, they have attacked fishing boats and scuba divers in the past.
Some divers have even experienced seeing makos swimming in predatory circles and blowing bubbles to deceive them as prey.
Other Shark Species in the Mediterranean Sea
As previously stated in this article, the Mediterranean Sea is home to over 47 species of sharks.
I have offered a detailed description of the most common species, but there are other species that call these waters home. They include:
- Longnose Spurdog
- Milk shark
- Sixgill shark species
- Piked dogfish shark
- Copper shark
- Basking shark
- Tiger shark
- Bluntnose sixgill shark
- Thresher shark species
- Portuguese dogfish
- Velvet Belly shark
- Dusky shark
- Gulper and Little Gulper shark
- Silky shark
- Sixgill shark species
- Cookiecutter shark
- Bignose shark
- Kitefin shark
- Angular Roughshark
- Smalltooth sand tiger
- Angel sharks (multiple species)
- Velvet Belly shark
- Little Sleeper shark
Are There Bull Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea?
No. Only the Bull shark, one of the three “main” killer species (Tiger, Bull, and Great White sharks), has not been spotted in the Mediterranean. The other species, on the other hand, were most likely caught in the Gulf Stream and moved across the Atlantic, and they do not constitute a severe threat.
Are There Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea Amalfi Coast?
Yes, there could be a species known as ‘verdoni’ that is shorter than the ordinary shark that we are all afraid of. These “sharks” are also more active in the late summer and early fall period when they hunt for tuna in the Amalfi coastal waters. Furthermore, cases of shark attacks are rare in this area.
Are There Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy?
Yes, there are sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy.
Most recently, Great White sharks have been sighted along the coastal waters.
It’s crucial to remember that they get so much attention because they’re so rare—numbers imply 10 sightings in 30 years. In this location, tiger and blue sharks are much more common.
According to the negative press, Italy is the Mediterranean’s “high risk area” for shark attacks.
We must remember that this is still a very small amount, largely found among diving spear-fishers who travel with dead fish attached to their gear.
The sharks are interested in the fresh meal, not the people!
Tourism officials are extremely cautious and will shut down beaches if they suspect that there is a risk. So don’t be too concerned about sharks when on vacation in Italy.
Final Thoughts on Are there Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea
Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea? The answer is YES. Indeed, there are sharks in the Mediterranean Sea.
There are over 47 species of sharks that call these waters home. Most of these species are not harmful to humans but there have been cases of shark attacks in the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy leads in the number of cases of unprovoked shark attacks, with 26 cases recorded since 1900. Out of all these cases, 10 were fatal.
Learn About Sharks
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Mediterranean Sea Shark Infested?
NO, the Mediterranean Sea is not shark infested. However, as noted earlier, there are over 47 shark species that call the Meds waters home. Most of these species are harmless and rare to come by. Shark attacks are extremely rare, and sightings of dangerous sharks are uncommon.
Is the Mediterranean Sea Safe to Swim in?
YES. In actuality, the Mediterranean is one of the world's most secure seas. This body of water is famous among swimmers from all over the world due to its reasonably calm seas and protected harbors. Many tourists visit the area solely to relax on the beaches and swim in the clear waters. However, this does not mean that the Mediterranean is without dangers. Swimming in open water poses risks such as currents, riptides, abrupt tide changes, deep water pulls, and crossing ship lanes. Accidents and fatalities as a result of these incidents are uncommon, but swimmers must remain attentive and observant at all times. However, one of the most common concerns among swimmers is the possibility of being attacked by sharks while swimming in the Mediterranean. Since 1900, there have been a few hundred shark attacks, recorded mostly near Italy and Spain. However, shark attacks have become increasingly rare, especially since shark populations have declined owing to overfishing and habitat destruction in the recent past.
Which is the Most Dangerous Sea Creature in the Mediterranean Sea?
Sharks are generally thought to be harmful but rarely do they attack humans. However, the great white shark is the most dangerous and accounts for most cases of shark attacks. The great white sharks are rare in the Mediterranean Sea but are frequently sighted in the Strait of Sicily that has a rich ecosystem. Due to the abundance of food, the sharks give birth and raise their young ones here.
Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea near Cyprus?
YES. The waters surrounding Cyprus are shallow. Cyprus is home to one of the famous diving hotspots in Europe. There are few shark sightings in the Med’s waters surrounding Cyprus. Most of these sightings occur in deeper waters. The most common sighted sharks are the Blue Sharks, Basking Sharks and the Mako Sharks. However, you are more likely to encounter other marine animals in the waters surrounding Cyprus. The most common ones are the Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle and the Monk Seal. Do not miss checking out the Zenobia wreck that was nicknamed the “Titanic of the Mediterranean”
Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt?
YES. The Red Sea is home to a number of shark species and you are likely to spot many sharks along the Red Sea coast compared to the Mediterranean Sea. This is attributed to the rich marine ecosystem along the Red Sea that attracts the sharks. Some of these sharks may occasionally migrate to the Med’s waters and few have been sighted along the Egyptian coast of the Mediterranean Sea. However, the majority are under heavy threat due to activities in the fishing industry. Many have been classified as protected and surprisingly, no shark attacks have ever been recorded along the Egyptian waters.
Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey?
YES, there are sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey but surprisingly has very few shark sightings. Researchers have estimated that the number of sharks in the Turkish waters has been on the rise. From 1881 to 2007, a total of 47 great white sharks were identified in the Turkish waters. Between 2008 and 2011, six baby sharks were spotted in the region by researchers. This growth has been attributed to tuna farming operations around Turkey waters. The most common sharks in these waters are the Bull sharks and the Sand Tiger sharks. Additionally, sandbar Sharks and Copper Sharks have been sighted in deep waters. Sightings and shark attacks are rare in Turkish waters.
Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Spain?
YES, sharks can be seen in the Spanish Mediterranean, especially during the summer. The conditions are ideal for tropical animals as well as happy beachgoers. Unfortunately, global warming is also forcing more sharks into the area. Shark-human encounters, on the other hand, are extremely rare. Great White Sharks, Sand Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Blue Sharks, and Porbeagles are the most common in this part of the Mediterranean Sea. Silky Sharks, a 2-3-meter-long species not normally sighted in Spanish waters, have been seen in recent times, most likely as a consequence of global warming.
Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, Greece?
YES, the Greek coastal waters are home to a variety of shark species. They prefer the deeper waters off the coast; thus, they are rarely seen in the shallows near famous tourist beaches. Sightings of sharks are still uncommon. The majority of sightings are reported by fishermen working in deeper waters. They are also seen on some tourist visits. Blue sharks, the most regularly seen species, eat primarily squid and fish. People and sharks coexist peacefully in Greece, which has only had 13 incidences of shark attacks in 165 years. On the other hand, most visitors like seeing large litters of shark pups that can travel with Blue Sharks.
Are there any great white sharks in the Mediterranean Sea?
Sightings of Great White sharks in the Mediterranean are extremely unusual, though not unheard of. Great Whites are more likely to be spotted near the shores of California, South Africa, and Australia. Shark experts speculate that the Sicilian Channel near Italy may serve as a breeding ground for Great Whites due to its rich marine ecosystem. Pregnant female sharks and pups are frequently sighted here. Surprisingly, Great Whites used to be more common in the area. Conflicts with the fishing industry are assumed to be to blame for the dramatic fall in the population of these sharks in the Mediterranean Sea.
Are there any dangerous sharks in the Mediterranean Sea?
YES, there are dangerous sharks in the Mediterranean, and sure, shark attacks have occurred there. However, shark attacks are rare, presumably due to the availability of food for sharks to feed on in the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea, with its relatively warm, saline waters and little tidal movement, is home to an abundance of sea animals, allowing sharks plenty of prey to survive on. Over the last 150 years, there have been 36 reported shark attacks in the Mediterranean Sea, 18 of which have been deadly.