This Gorgeous Australian Beach Has The Most Shark Attacks In The Entire Country

It's frightening that shark attacks seem to be increasing in the United States every year, but they are much more serious in one other area of our world — Australia. The total number of global shark attacks from 2012 to 2021 was 761, with 60 fatalities (per Florida Museum). Many of these attacks happened in Australia and the United States, with 259 non-fatal attacks with zero fatalities occurring in Florida and 143 attacks with 20 fatalities belonging to Australia during that same time period. Of the Australian attacks, many occur in one of the most popular surfing and tourist spots in New South Wales: Byron Bay. While the bay sees over 2 million visitors a year, it's one of the most dangerous places to swim.


According to an analysis in 2019 from Macquarie University, out of all the attacks that have happened in Australia, almost one out of five (16%) have happened in Byron Bay. While tiger sharks and bull sharks are responsible for many Australian shark attacks, great white sharks are the main culprit in Byron Bay. Despite this, the bay remains a very popular surfing and fishing spot among locals and those who've come from all over the world specifically to surf The Pass, The Wreck, and Broken Head.

Why Byron Bay is a magnet for shark attacks

The crystal clear aquamarine water stays a warm 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Byron Bay happens to have one of the most celebrated spots for great surfing in the world. It also happens to be an excellent area for catching several types of fish, including mackerel, flathead, tusk fish, and sand whiting, just to name a few. With so much fishing taking place, the water has plenty of blood from bait fish which, of course, will attract a wide array of sharks.


The Pass is located between Cape Headland and Byron's Main Beach. Sharks are instinctively drawn to splashing and activity happening in the water, and there is always plenty happening in that spot. There are some other things like bright colors that can attract curious sharks. Sharks also have an extremely sensitive nose and can smell a drop of blood in the water from up to a quarter mile away. With all of the rocks and surfers who sometimes crash into them, it's not a huge surprise that sharks are so drawn to the areas like The Pass, The Wreck, or Broken Head. The blood travels to surrounding sharks through the ocean's current, and since these spots are areas that produce strong currents, the smell could travel to them quite fast. That said, just because a shark smells blood doesn't mean they have a "Finding Nemo" moment of crazed feeding. There is, however, one more huge reason sharks are attracted to Byron Bay: rivers.


Sharks don't like to eat humans

Shark attacks near Byron Bay have increased in the last couple of years, but so have the spring rains. The Richmond River is the largest in the area and empties into the ocean. With the increase in rain, the river can become flooded, forcefully dumping its contents into the sea. The river's fish and ocean life near the mouth are then pushed back out into the ocean and into the jaws of the waiting sharks. To add to this feeding frenzy, the prawn industry is known for dumping unwanted fish that get caught in their nets, leaving a long trail of snacks for the sharks following the ship. Many of the people that have been bitten were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, while hungry sharks were snapping up anything they thought was food.


It's important to remember that sharks do not like to eat humans. Typically, the shark will test bite to find out what an object is. It is their only way to feel something, and once they realize it is a bad-tasting human, they usually swim off to find a real meal. When you enter the ocean, you enter the shark's home. Just like any person's home, it's important to have respect while in it. When swimming in the ocean, there's always going to be a risk. It's up to us to figure out if it's worth it or not. You might grow to love sharks so much that you wind up researching the best places to swim with the sharks!