The White Shark, more commonly referred to as the "Great White," has been reported to be involved in more attacks on humans than any other shark.
Fossil remains suggest the Great White dates back to the early Eocene eras, which lasted from about 56 to 34 million years ago.
Mature males reach an average size of 10.5 feet while females can average 14 feet. Active during daytime hours, Great Whites feed on marine animals - they don't like sea birds or sea otters particularly. It's thought that they attack humans when they mistake diver and surfer silhouettes in the water during approaching from below the surface of the water. An alternative theory has also been suggested that Great Whites attack unfamiliar objects to test their potential as food. If true, that would help explain their involvement over the years in myriad hit-and-run attacks near beaches.
Not very much is known about the size of the great white's total population. Described as a slow-growing animal with low fertility rates, the Great White is considered at risk of overfishing.
According to the International Shark Attack File, the Tiger shark ranks No. 2 behind the white shark in the number of reported attacks on humans. The shark-monitoring group notes that the animal's "large size and voraciousness" qualify it as a formidable ocean predator. Surfers and swimmers need to know that Tiger sharks tend to be both curious and aggressive when they spot humans in the water.
Powerful, fast and aggressive, the Shortfin Mako has been blamed for many reported shark attacks on humans. In more than a few cases, also blame human error as fisherman have been known to get injured after dragging hooked makos into their boats.
The Shortfin Mako is believed to be the fastest of any shark, able to swim up to 20 miles per hour. Prior to attacks, the sharks tend to swim in figure eight patterns and approach their prey with mouths open. The popularity of Mako meat in shark fin soup has reduced their populations; the World Conservation Union has listed the Shortfin mako as "Near Threatened."
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
The Oceanic Whitetip has earned a reputation for being first to arrive on the scene when ocean ships run afoul - especially during war time. The shark was blamed for many of the fatalities related to the sinking of the steamship Nova Scotia off the coast of South Africa during World War 2. Only 192 of the nearly 1,000 men on board survived. Eyewitness accounts from the survivors recounted a "feeding frenzy" as sharks attacked men waiting in the water for rescue. The shark is described as > opportunistic, bold and unpredictable around divers and thus should be "treated with extreme caution."
Great Whites get most of the headlines but Bull Sharks may be the most dangerous shark of them all.
It has been recorded in 69 unprovoked attacks on humans but researchers believe the numbers may be higher because of the lack of easily identifiable markings. And unlike most other sharks, it is also known to swim in freshwater. Perhaps the most famous incident occurred in 1916 when four people were killed in shark attacks over two weeks - three of the attacks took place in a tidal river called the Matawan Creek.