Is There An Ocean Without Sharks?

Is There An Ocean Without Sharks?

There are a few ways to describe the world’s saltwater bodies. 97% of all of Earth’s water is contained in what could be considered part of a single world ocean, a unified water body of connected sections of water. If this is the case, then, of course, there is no ocean without sharks.

But there are other ways to partition this.

If you use the continents to divide up the ocean, you can have anywhere between three and five oceans. There is no consensus on exactly how many there are, but the maximum five proposed oceans would be:

  • Atlantic
  • Indian
  • Pacific
  • Southern
  • Arctic

These oceans are all inter-connected by a system of ocean currents that allow nutrients and minerals (and sharks) to pass between them. As such, there is still no ocean without sharks. Sorry.

But is this a bad thing? Sharks are awesome! And hardly ever dangerous. If someone is so worried about sharks, one sure-fire way to avoid them is to stay on land…

Do all oceans have sharks?

Due to the fact that the largest water bodies are connected, of course, there are sharks in every ocean. However, these oceans are vast and diverse in their conditions for life, so there are areas with more sharks than others.

The Indian Ocean has many shark attacks, but this doesn’t necessarily mean there are more sharks there.

In fact, if measured by attacks, the Atlantic has the record. But factors such as water quality, shark species, and the number of people in the water meaning that these statistics probably aren’t a useful metric to measure species richness or the number of sharks in the water.

A map of species richness from 2011 shows that the vast majority of sharks are found on continental shelves, around the edges of continents, and there are hot spots of species richness in the North Pacific, around Japan.

So if there are sharks in every ocean, where does someone go if they want to avoid the most of them? 

Which Ocean Has the Least Number of Sharks?

Sharks are generally cold-blooded. Of course, this means some of them have incredible adaptations to allow them to inhabit colder waters, but in general, they’re like sea cats.

Since there aren’t any functional laptop chargers in the ocean to sleep on, they’ll stick to the warmest water they can find.

By the same logic, they’ll generally avoid the coldest waters. This means that the Antarctic and the Arctic are the regions with the least sharks.

But sadly, they’re also the least hospitable to swimmers.

Where are sharks not found?

So, it’s established that there are sharks in every ocean, but what about seas? Most seas are connected to the oceans and are thus riddled with sharks.

The spiny dogfish, for example, is the most common shark in the seas and oceans, occupying coastal waters all over the world except the Antarctic.

But some seas are pretty isolated and totally hostile to life.

The Dead Sea is aptly named because it’s exceptionally salty. Only some particularly hardy microbes can tolerate its salinity – there isn’t even any seaweed! As such, there are no sharks either.

If it’s too salty for you, too, you could try the Arctic. There are a lot fewer sharks where it’s really cold. Unfortunately, there are a lot fewer comfortable bathing spots for the same reason.

Which beaches do not have sharks?

If the dead sea isn’t to your liking, there are still some safer beaches than others in terms of the number of sharks. Or at least the number of dangerous sharks.

Northern climates like the UK or Canada have lower numbers of dangerous sharks.

You might get lucky enough to catch a basking shark gobbling plankton, but there really aren’t many reported attacks from any of the Big Three that far north. Still, it does happen.

With climate change increasing the range of migratory sharks, it’s not going to be easy to avoid them entirely. But you shouldn’t want to. Almost all sharks are totally harmless, and the ones that do cause harm attack so rarely that it’s more dangerous to get stung by a wasp.

Conclusion

So, there are few spots on Earth’s beaches where you’re not very likely to come in contact with a shark, knowingly or not. But it might not be such a good wish to be without sharks.

Sharks keep fish populations and reef ecosystems healthy and help fertilize the ocean.

Wishing away any apex (or close enough) predator will necessarily have a cascade of negative effects on any ecosystem. If you want to try not to get eaten by a shark, just stay away from the few who occasionally cause trouble. Or stay out of their habitats altogether.