Dictionary of Ichthyology  

shark attack = 1) something to be avoided by humans. There about 70-100 attacks on humans each year with 5-15 fatalities. Lightning, bee stings, dog bites and snake bites all produce more fatalities than sharks. The great white (Carcharodon carcharias), tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus) and bull sharks  (Carcharhinus leucas) account for most fatal attacks on humans. Oceanic whitetips are often associated with ship sinkings or plane crashes and bull sharks with fresh water as well as marine attacks. Most attacks are in warmer waters since there are more sharks there in terms of individuals and species, and more humans swimming. Attacks can be "hit and run" in surf areas, presumably a human being mistaken for prey or the shark, or the shark defending territory, "bump and bite" attacks where the shark circles the human, and bumps with the snout before biting, and "sneak" attacks which occur without warning. Hit and run attacks usually involve minor leg lacerations while the latter two involve severe injuries and death.

Watson and the Shark, a 1778 oil painting by John Singelton Copley showing 14-year-old Brook Watson being rescued from a shark attack on the third attempt in Havana, Cuba. Watson lost a leg. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photograph by Brian W. Coad.

Canadian Museum of Nature
www.briancoad.com