The warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea are home to at least 47 shark species, but only about 15 of those species actually pose any potential threats to humans.
Unfortunately, sharks are largely misunderstood, as most of them are completely harmless and, despite their integral part in the ocean's delicate ecosystems, they are being fished to extinction.
Nevertheless, being aware of what shark species you may encounter during any dive on the planet is important in order to remain safe and to respect the creatures that you come into contact with.
Great White Shark
The massive great white shark is found in offshore and coastal waters around the world as long as they have a temperature that ranges from 12 to 24 degrees Celsius, or 54 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Photo Credit: SteveMcN
Therefore, a large number of these predators are found in the Mediterranean Sea. Although these formidable creatures certainly do strike fear into the hearts of some divers, you should know that, in the Mediterranean Sea, there have only been a total of 31 attacks against people over the last 200 years, and most of those attacks did not result in fatalities.
The Blacktip shark enjoys spending its time in bays, near beaches, in estuaries, off river mouths, and over coral reefs, so it's no wonder that it's commonly encountered in the Mediterranean Sea. Characterized by its long, pointed snout, small eyes, black tips on the fins, and social behavior (these sharks are often found swimming in groups), this shark is not considered dangerous.
Photo Credit: acme
Although these sharks may be curious towards divers, they generally prefer to keep their distance. The only time they may show any aggression is if there is food present, so as long as you are diving with respect, you can enjoy these large, majestic creatures from a safe distance.
Smooth Hammerhead Shark
Like other hammerhead sharks, the smooth hammerhead is large and has that distinctively flat head, so you will easily recognize one when you see it.
The main feature that distinguishes this hammerhead from others is a single notch that is located in the middle of the head. This shark species is potentially dangerous to divers, but because it is mainly found in temperate waters around the world where divers are less likely to explore the undersea world, encounters are not likely.
Great Hammerhead Shark
The largest type of hammerhead shark is referred to as the great hammerhead. This is yet another species found in the Mediterranean, thanks to its preference for warm waters.
This shark can be potentially dangerous to divers, however attacks are quite rare. Reports from divers who encounter these sharks in the water are mixed. Some say that they are elusive and shy and will keep their distance, while other divers have found that great hammerhead sharks are not afraid of charging at divers or swimming near them.
Photo Credit: zlatkarp
Sand Tiger Shark
The sand tiger shark is also known as the grey nurse shark. It is found in temperate and subtropical waters around the world, including in the Mediterranean.
A cousin of the great white, this shark is a powerful and fearsome looking creature, yet it has caused no human fatalities and is generally a slow moving animal that keeps to itself. In fact, its mouth isn't large enough to attack human. Humans are no prey for any shark species and that counts for those in in the Med too.
You can easily recognize one, thanks to its bulky body and pointed head, as well as the reddish-brown spots that are found on its back. Unless you plan on fishing or feeding sharks on your next dive in the Mediterranean, you need not worry about this creature attacking in an attempt to steal the food from you.
Photo Credit: TRACSau
There are many other sharks in the Mediterranean including:
- Bull shark
- Smalleye hammerhead
- Whitefin hammerhead
- Milk shark
- Silky shark
- Bignose shark
- Schoolshark or tope
- Blackmouth catshark
- Longfin Mako
- Smalltooth sandtiger
- Smoothback angelshark
- Sawback angelshark
- Angular Roughshark
- Cookiecutter shark
- Longnose spurdog
- Piked dogfish
- Little sleeper shark
- Velvet Belly shark
- Kitefin shark
- Portuguese Dogfish
- Little Gulper shark
- Gulper shark
- Sharpnose Sixgill shark
- Bluntnose Sixgill shark
- Thresher shark
- Bigeye Thresher shark
- Dusky shark
Have you ever had a shark encounter in the Med? Let us know in the comments below
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Rutger Thole is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.