When planning a trip to the beautiful coastal waters of Greece, many travellers wonder if they might encounter sharks in the area.
With a vast coastline and numerous islands, Greece is known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for tourists.
Although shark encounters are rare, it is important to be aware of the various species found in Greek waters and understand the potential risks they pose.
In Greece, several shark species have been sighted along its coastline, some of which are known to be dangerous.
Great white sharks, one of the most feared aquatic predators globally, have been spotted in Greek waters, although no confirmed incidents of attacks on humans have occurred. In addition to the great white, other harmless species, such as the basking shark, thresher shark, and dogfish, are more commonly seen around Greece.
While the risk of a shark attack in Greece is minimal, it remains crucial for visitors to be cautious and respectful of their surroundings when enjoying Greece’s beautiful beaches and seas.
Additionally, understanding that many shark species in Greek waters are threatened or endangered is essential, as these animals face increasing risk due to overfishing and bycatch.
By keeping informed and adopting responsible practices, tourists can help contribute to the conservation of these fascinating creatures.
Shark Species Seen in Greece
Common Shark Species
In the waters around Greece, several shark species can be found.
The most common species is the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias Linnaeus), which has been linked to the few recorded shark attacks in Greece throughout history.
Another common species in the area is the blue shark (Prionace glauca), which is often found in open waters and is known for their vibrant blue colour.
Rare and Harmless Species
There are also some rare and harmless species of sharks in Greece.
The smalltail shark (C. porosus) is a member of the ground shark family and typically dwells in estuaries and nearshore waters in the western Atlantic Ocean.
Another unique and rare species that may be seen in Greek waters is the smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena), a harmless shark recognizable by its distinct wide head. The oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) is another rare species often found near the ocean’s surface in warm waters; however, they face threats from commercial fishing gear and the shark fin, skin and oil trades.
Where Are Sharks Often Found in Greece?
In the Mediterranean Sea, shark populations are known to live, though several species face the risk of extinction.
Sharks such as the Great White Shark, the Blue Shark, the Porbeagle, and the Shortfin Mako are amongst the threatened species in this region.
Based on the latest IUCN Assessment, about 50% of the sharks and ray populations in the Mediterranean face extinction.
The Aegean Sea, located on the east coast of Greece, is home to some shark species.
There have been a few sightings and even some recorded shark attacks in this area. In the past 170 years, there have been 15 recorded shark attacks, with only one resulting in a fatality.
The sharks found in this region are usually not considered to pose a threat to humans.
Some of the species that may be found in the Aegean Sea include:
- Great White Shark
- Blue Shark
- Shortfin Mako
The Ionian Sea, which is situated to the west of Greece, has not had any confirmed shark attacks.
Though it is important to note that the great white shark, known for its role in the majority of shark attacks on humans worldwide, can be found in these waters.
However, no such incidents have been reported in the Ionian Sea.
Like the Aegean Sea, the usual shark species found in this area are not considered to be aggressive or dangerous to humans.
Shark Interactions with Humans
Shark Bite Incidents
In Greece, there have been 15 recorded shark attacks in the past 170 years, with only one of these events resulting in a death.
Most of the sharks sighted off the Greek coast are not prone to attacking humans.
The most feared predator, the great white shark, is present in Greek waters, but incidents involving this species have not been confirmed in the area.
Greek waters experienced the deadliest decade for shark attacks between 1847 and 1981, particularly during the 1950s when there were six incidents, five of which resulted in injury.
Safety Measures for Swimmers
Although shark attacks in Greece are rare, it’s still essential to take precautions when swimming in the sea. Here are some safety measures for swimmers:
- Avoid swimming during dusk and dawn: Sharks are more active during these hours and may be hunting for food.
- Stay in groups: Sharks are more likely to target individuals, so swimming in a group can reduce the risk of an attack.
- Avoid wearing shiny jewellery: The reflection of light on jewellery may resemble scales of a fish, attracting sharks.
- Keep the water clear: Refrain from entering the water if you are bleeding or have open wounds, as sharks have a strong sense of smell and can detect the presence of blood.
- Avoid areas with dead animals or fish: Sharks may be attracted to these locations, increasing the chances of an encounter.
By following these safety measures, swimmers and tourists can continue to enjoy the beautiful beaches and waters of Greece while minimizing the risk of shark interactions.
Shark Conservation Efforts
Threats to Sharks in Greece
Bycatch, which refers to the unintentional capture of species not targeted by fishing activities, poses a significant threat to shark populations in Greece.
Due to intensive fishing efforts in the Mediterranean, shark populations are witnessing a sharp decline. With the rising demand for marine products, the negative impact on sharks only grows.
Critically Endangered or Endangered species, such as guitarfishes, the spiny butterfly ray, and angel sharks, require urgent conservation management to ensure their long-term survival in Greece’s South Aegean Sea. The great white shark has also been sighted in Greek waters, which further highlights the need for conservation efforts.
Regulations and Policies
In response to these threats, environmental organisations are urging the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food to implement existing legislation designed to protect sharks and rays. This is in light of incidents where great white sharks have been caught, sold, and displayed in the Mediterranean, including one such event on the island of Naxos.
Social media is proving to be a valuable tool in the conservation of sharks in Greece. By monitoring and tracking social media posts related to sharks, conservationists can gain valuable insights into species distribution, public perception of sharks, and threats faced by these majestic creatures. By utilising this information, experts can better inform their conservation plans and activities.
As a result of the increasing awareness surrounding the plight of sharks in Greece, greater emphasis is being placed on the importance of conservation efforts and improving regulations. All stakeholders, from environmental organisations to the government and public, play a role in ensuring the future of these fascinating marine animals in Greek waters.
Hailing from the historic city of Thessaloniki, Nikos Tsakiris is a passionate explorer, seasoned writer, and co-founder of Greek Island, the definitive travel blog for the Greek Islands.