12 Shark Attacks That Will Chill You to the Bone
Think twice before swimming in the ocean.
A 65-year-old woman, Tatyana Koltunyuk, was New York's first shark attack victim in 50 years. And this week, her daughter spoke out about the incident. "She was in the water as she normally was towards the end of the day, and she felt something bump into her hard. And then she saw the shark on its belly up look at her," said Dasha Koltunyuk in an exclusive with GMA. "She described looking at its eyes very vividly and just seeing it. She almost describes it as being mischievous, almost like an adolescent spirit." "She saw all of its teeth. She described how green and dirty they were. And then the shark attacked, and she remembers a cloud of blood in the water," said Koltunyuk's daughter. The doctor saw the bite, and "He was just kind of in awe of it, in awe that she survived that," she said. She says it's a miracle she's alive. Koltunyuk isn't the only victim of a scary shark attack, which seems to be making headlines more and more lately. Here are twelve more.
A 15-foot shark attacked two paddle boarders in Kihei, Hawaii, in an attack so ferocious it destroyed one of the paddle boards by biting it in two. The shark, which was so large the swimmers thought it was a whale, kept trying to attack the pair—but they safely made it to shore. "I don't want this story to scare people, [but it's] definitely something to be aware of. [We are] always guests in the ocean, but it's such a just extraordinary place, and even that experience with a shark, there was something so beautiful about it," says Megan Valentine, one of the paddle boarders. "Like it's this magnificent creature and like totally terrifying, but I respect it."
A great white shark decapitated a fisherman who was collecting ax tripe shellfish off the Gulf of Mexico in January 2023 in an attack that left experts baffled. "As rare as shark bites on humans can be, decapitation is even more rare," says Chris Lowe, the director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach. "In most cases, we just don't know. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to discern the motivation of the shark without detailed information of the situation prior to the bite."
A 59-year-old Australian tourist was killed in the waters off New Caledonia in the South Pacific in February 2023, the second attack in that location in less than a month: A 49-year-old woman was seriously injured just a couple of weeks before after being attacked by a bull shark. "Swimming and nautical activities are closed in a 300-meter coastal band until further notice," Nouméa City Council said in a statement.
A surfer in Florida almost lost his life after being attacked by a shark in West Palm Beach. "I thought I kicked a rock or something, and all of a sudden, there was the bite, and two seconds later, it was done," says Bert Krebs. "[A shark] bit me; I either pulled my leg away or it let go. I knew right away what happened." "The shark basically took a bite of the entire foot, and it seems like slowly it ultimately took the small toe off at the end," says Dr. Faris Azar, "so we have to deal with the damage on the foot and a toe that was missing as well."
Four people, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed in the space of two weeks by sharks off the New Jersey shore in 1916. Shark behavior was not well understood at the time, and locals even resorted to throwing dynamite in the water to kill the shark. "It was a unique situation then, [but] it clearly doesn't matter where it occurs and when," says George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and curator for the International Shark Attack File. "Whenever a community encounters a number of incidents in a short period of time, the community reacts more or less the same… The usual order of things is usually fear, followed by denial, followed by revenge, and then followed by some rational or scientific approach to the problem. It's a timeless and cultural-ist reaction."
Here's an image that might keep you awake at night—scuba divers swimming in the water on the North Shore of New South Wales, Australia, captured a gray nurse shark showing off its terrifying teeth to the camera. While the shark didn't attack the swimmers, the footage itself is the stuff of nightmares. "Hey, Mr. Dentist, can you please check if I have a fish stuck in my teeth," the divers captioned the video.
A 68-year-old man managed to fight off a giant tiger shark that attacked him while swimming off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. Eyewitnesses say the man fought back with a knife after the shark took a giant chunk out of his left side. "It was hectic," witness Anthony Singh told Hawaii News Now. "It was brutal." The shark eventually gave up and swam away, and the man was treated for his injuries.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a popular spot for swimmers—but it's also frequented by dangerous sharks. Two swimmers were attacked by sharks in August 2022, including grandmother Karen Sites, who was waist-deep in water when a shark bit her. "I just felt something, I guess, bite me and there was a shark on my arm," Sites told WPDE-TV. "I couldn't even see the shark coming up, but all I saw was the shark jumped up and it didn't even bite all the way," said grandson Brian Sites.
A surfer who was attacked by a shark near Centerville Beach, California, fought back, saving his own life. Jared Trainor, 31, was in the water when a shark suddenly clamped down on his leg. Trainor kicked the shark in the head until it let go, and considers himself lucky to be alive. "I probably will think twice before surfing by myself," he says. "Some of these locations that have a little bit more sea life are more remote. I haven't actually told my son directly that this happened. Because I hope that he's not going to lose interest in the sport. I'm grateful to be alive. And I love surfing so much that I'm hoping this brings a newfound appreciation."
Two divers were spearfishing in Shark Bay, Western Australia, when a giant shark attacked them as they were swimming back to shore. Video footage of the incident shows the shark battling with the divers, who say it was trying to steal the fish they had caught. The divers fought back by kicking the shark and made it back to shore safely.
A world-champion surfer was attacked by a shark on live TV while competing at Jeffreys in South Africa. Three-time world champion Mick Fanning was pulled under water for nine seconds, but he managed to fight the shark off. "As a surfer you have [sharks] in the back of your mind but you never think it's going to happen to you," he said in 2015. "I still have flashbacks of coming up [for air] and I hear the splashes."
A 50-year-old woman was attacked while swimming in waters off Del Mar, Southern California, just 200 yards from the shore. "I felt a huge, like a really hard hit — I don't know how else to say this, like right between my legs," says Lyn Jutronich, who was swimming with a friend. "It hurt, and it pushed me up and out of the water. I saw it clamp on my leg, so I don't know if I saw it bite my leg or if I saw it after it bit my leg. But I definitely saw the mouth," she said. "It was on my right leg and it shook once, kind of like a dog, and then it let me go."