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Sharks in Greece

Should you be worried?

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sea anemones in Greece

Don't worry about the sharks - worry about these sea anemones, found everywhere in Greece.

Picture of sea anemones on the island of Milos, copyright deTraci Regula.
Sparkling seas and gorgeous Greek islands on the horizon - it's an idyllic vision of Greece. But should you be watching out for a shark fin slicing through those beautiful waters?

Sharks in Greece - Myth or Reality?

While there are sharks in Greece, most species are harmless. Sightings are extremely rare and, in general, shark attacks in the Mediterranean are also rarely reported. Given the vast number of people spending time in the water, encounters with sharks are few.

In the existing records of sharks in the Mediterranean, there is only one anecdotal tale of a fatal shark attack in the Greek islands, and that was reported nearly a century ago. Other sources list a total of nine fatal shark attacks in Greece over the last 160 or so years. It's not clear what species of shark may have been responsible; one Greek fisherman swore he saw a great white shark in the Aegean a couple of decades ago, but it was probably a small whale - which are also rare but present in Greece.

While there are some Mediterranean shark attacks reported each year, they seem to cluster around the shores of France, not Greece.

All sharks are rare in Greece, and those that are seen or caught by fishermen are usually from less-dangerous types - basking sharks, thresher sharks, and dogfish. In recent years, sharks have been found or caught around Milos, Symi, and Crete. Numbers have been declining over the past few decades, and if you're actually a fan of sharks in Greece and elsewhere, and want to help with conserving them, you may want to check out the Shark Alliance's Greece page.

So if you're wondering if there could be a "Sharknado" in Greece - don't. Sharks are rare in Greek waters and usually harmless.

Forget the Sharks - Here's What You Should Really Worry About in Greece

Other dangers are far more real and much more likely to impact your vacation in Greece.

Jellyfish and Sea Anemones

Real dangers include jellyfish stings and turning your foot into a temporary cactus by stepping on a needle-spined sea anemone barefoot. It's always good to be wearing sea sandals, both for the anemones and for the often-scratchy lava rocks which line the coasts of many of the islands. Sea sandals may sell out in Greece during the summer, so you may want to squeeze them into your bag.

Scorpion Fish - With a Name Like That, It Can't Be Good

Sea sandals are also likely to protect you from the sand-burrowing Scorpion Fish, whose stings have been known to be fatal. A few years ago on Crete, a man was arrested on murder charges due to the sudden death of his wife, who had collapsed and died in the shower. It was initially thought he had poisoned her, but the Greek forensics team determined she had stepped on a Scorpion Fish earlier in the day. Due to a pre-existing problem with her liver, the sting proved fatal.

So enjoy your visit to Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean Sea of which the Aegean is a part. The chances of even seeing a shark in Greece are extremely small.

Mythical Sea Monsters of Greece

While monster sharks in Greece are rare, Greek mythology has plenty of mythical sea beasts, including the multi-tentacled Hydra which may have been the inspiration for the non-Greek Kraken in "Clash of the Titans".

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