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Are there sharks in Santorini?

Image source: Anion / Adobe Stock

Good news! There has never been a shark attack on humans off the coast of Santorini.

However, there are several species of sharks in the Aegean Sea, where Santorini is located. These include:

  • Spiny dogfish

Spiny dogfish are small, predatory sharks found in coastal waters around the world. They are not large enough to pose a threat to humans. Spiny dogfish have a long, slender body with two dorsal fins located far back on the body. Their name comes from the sharp spines located just behind each dorsal fin. These spines are used for both defence and attack and can cause serious injury if not handled properly. Spiny dogfish are opportunistic predators that will eat almost anything they can catch. However, their favourite prey is small fish, squid and crabs. They are most active at night, when they use their heightened sense of smell to track down prey.

  • Thresher shark

 The thresher shark is a large fish found in most of the world’s oceans. It gets its name from its long, whip-like tail, which it uses to grab and stun its prey. The thresher shark is a migratory fish, and its migrations are probably related to changes in water temperature and food availability. Thresher sharks are surface predators, and their main diet consists of small fish and squid. However, they have also been known to eat larger prey such as turtles and seabirds. The population of the thresher shark is declining due to overfishing. As a result, the thresher shark has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

  •  Angelshark

The common ray (or angel shark) is a species of shark found in temperate and tropical seas. These sharks have a characteristic flattened body and have broad pectoral fins, looking somewhat like rays. They are one of the smaller sharks. They can reach 7 ft (2.1 m) in length and weigh up to 77 lb (35 kg). They inhabit rather shallow waters a short distance from the coast (up to 100 m (330 ft). They are not a threat to humans, although when provoked they can bite.

  • Great White Shark

One of the largest predatory sharks. It inhabits tropical and temperate waters around the world and is found at various depths – from 1,200 m below the surface to near-surface waters. It reaches up to 6 m in length and 2 tonnes.  White sharks rarely attack humans. In fact, most attacks occur when the shark is trying to determine whether or not a human is food. However, even a ‘trial’ bite can be fatal, as white sharks have incredibly powerful jaws covered with hundreds of razor-sharp teeth. There has been no case of a white shark attacking a human in the Aegean Sea, but in 2018, near the island of Samothrace, fishers accidentally caught an individual of the species measuring 1.5 metres. Due to species protection, the shark was released into the water.

Shark attacks that occurred in the Aegean Sea:

  • 07 September 1876, between the islands of Tinos and Andros – shark attack (fatal) on a diver fishing for sponges.
  • 22 September 1948, off Keratsini (Attica) – shark attack (fatal) on a 17-year-old swimming near the shore.
  • 01 June 1963, near the island of Trikeri (Pagasinian Gulf) – shark attack (fatal) on a 42-year-old female swimmer.
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