- Elias Levy/Flickr
- Great white sharks are found in oceans in all parts of the world.
- Getting bitten by a shark is much less common than is often believed: According to the International Wildlife Museum, the chances are one in 3.75 million.
- From the chilly Atlantic waters of Cape Cod to the California coast, here are 10 places where you’re likely to see great white sharks in person.
Sharks have inhabited ocean waters for millions of years, making them older than the dinosaurs. Great white sharks, one of the largest kinds, are found across the world.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, great white sharks live in many parts of the world because they have no trouble migrating long distances; they can swim up to 35 mph and have a warm-blooded circulatory system that allows them to swim in colder waters. They like to congregate in areas with a lot of fish, giving them easier access to food. These areas include coastal regions in Australia, California, New Zealand, and Africa.
While great white sharks are reportedly involved in more attacks on humans than any other kind of shark, the chances of getting bitten by one are only one in 3.75 million, according to the International Wildlife Museum.
Here are 10 places where you’re most likely to see a great white shark:
The Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco are a food paradise for great whites.
- Jeff Gunn/Flickr
The Farallon Islands are a small chain of islands and a wildlife refuge about 27 miles west of San Francisco. They are part of an ocean region called the “Red Triangle,” which is named for the high number of great white shark attacks that occur there. But don’t worry – the sharks mainly feast on the population of elephant seals and sea lions that breed near the islands.
The Farallons are closed to the public, but there are companies that give boat tours of the area. In October 2018, the Coast Guard rescued a diver who was believed to be filming a documentary in the area and was attacked by a great white shark.
Dyer Island near Gansbaai in South Africa has hundreds of great white sharks.
- Olga Ernst/Wikimedia Commons
The channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock off the coast of South Africa is inhabited by a high number of penguins and seals that make the area a year-round buffet for great white sharks. Researchers in 2013 identified 532 individual sharks swimming near the area, making it the densest population of them in the world.
If you visit the area, nicknamed “shark alley,” you can go on a cage dive to see them up close or watch them from a boat tour.
The population of great white sharks in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is rising.
In the past few years, great white shark sightings have spiked in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. One resident from the town of Orleans told National Geographic in November 2018 that he spotted 10 great whites during one surf trip in the cape’s waters. These sightings prompted beach closures throughout the region last year.
According to National Geographic, the booming gray seal population has attracted the sharks. Scientists from Florida Atlantic University suggested the northern Atlantic waters might also serve as a nursery for baby white sharks.
The Neptune Islands in Australia are bursting with great white shark activity.
- Pterantula/Wikimedia Commons
The high concentration of fur seals near Australia’s Neptune Islands lures great white sharks to the area. According to research cited by the Australian government, the area is also believed to be a mating ground because there are white sharks of varied sizes in the region.
For this reason, it remains the only place in Australia where you can cage dive to view them. And while using food bait is a common practice to bring the sharks closer, one tour operator cited in Australian Geographic has shown the sharks are strangely attracted to the sounds of classic rock.
The island of Guadalupe in Baja California is a famous place to watch sharks underwater.
Guadalupe Island, located about 150 miles west of Baja California, has been an official nature preserve since 1925.
The turquoise waters that surround the Island make finding prey a walk in the park. And with the exception of tourism the region is fairly remote, so sharks are free to roam unbothered. Today it remains one of the most popular places in the world to witness great white sharks in action.
Monterey, California, has seen a spike in great white shark populations over the past two years.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the central-coast region of California sees a lot of great white sharks during the late summer and early fall. According to local news channels, sightings of great white sharks increased last summer, suggesting an uptick in the overall population. In November 2018, a CBS affiliate reported that a Monterey Bay helicopter pilot noticed approximately 60 white sharks in the water below him during a flight over the coast.
Stewart Island, New Zealand, is notorious for aggressive great white sharks.
Great white sharks have been protected in New Zealand since 2007.
Since fishing is one of New Zealand’s largest industries, encounters with the massive sharks are frequent, and they can get caught in nets and other gear.
In 2016, one Stewart Island resident told The Guardian, “We see them all the time and not just one, sometimes three or four surrounding our boats.”
San Diego is where young great white sharks go to play.
- Elias Levy/Flickr
According to local news station KPBS, young great white sharks like to hang around Southern California for a few months in the spring before heading to Baja California in the fall.
In 2011, Andy Nosal, then a shark researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told the Voice of San Diego that paddleboarders in the San Diego area regularly spot great white sharks in deep waters and don’t report them because they’re so common.
False Bay in South Africa is the home of the flying great white sharks.
South Africa’s False Bay is famous for being one of the few sites where you can see great white sharks breaching to catch prey. This usually occurs during winter, which begins in May in the Southern Hemisphere, and coincides with migrating seal populations.
New South Wales, Australia, has a booming baby shark population.
- Rusaila Bazlamit/Flickr
The Port Stephens area of New South Wales, Australia, is home to a well-known great white shark nursery where baby sharks gather and feed. Scientists have been tracking their movement patterns for the past few years, but don’t yet know why they continue to return to the area.
- Read more:
- 11 myths about sharks that you should stop believing
- Divers in Hawaii came face-to-face with what’s thought to be the largest great white shark ever recorded
- The divers who vent viral for swimming with a gigantic great white shark are now using their encounter to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii
- 7 surprising animals you should be more afraid of than sharks