Are There A Lot Of Sharks In Clearwater, Florida?

Florida is known as the state with the most shark attacks, but are there a lot of sharks in Clearwater, Florida, to be a cause of concern to vacationers? Of course, no visit to Clearwater will be complete without a day or two spent at the beach. But is it safe to go surfing or swimming in Clearwater? 

Are There Many Sharks In Clearwater, Florida?

There are many different sharks in the waters of Clearwater, including hammerhead sharks, nurse sharks, and black tip sharks. Many sharks migrate to Tampa Bay to give birth to their pups; as Clearwater is close, you can expect to see them in the surrounding waters. Luckily, many species are harmless, and shark attacks are extremely rare.

Most shark species prefer murky water as it camouflages them from their prey. Luckily for us, the aqua-hued water of Clearwater is, you guessed it, mostly clear.

Most people associate Florida with warm, pleasant weather, gorgeous beaches, and, unfortunately, shark attacks. Unbeknownst to some, most shark attacks happen on the eastern side of Florida in Volusia County.

However, that is not to say that Clearwater has no sharks. While shark attacks are rare, Clearwater is located in the Gulf of Mexico, home to many shark species. Furthermore, Tampa Bay is known as the “nursery” of many shark species. 

Sharks give birth in Tampa Bay and leave their pups in the bay to develop and grow until they are strong enough to fend for themselves and leave the bay. 

It is worth highlighting that your chances of being attacked by a shark, even in Volusia County, are much rarer than being struck by lightning or attacked by a cow. 

Of all the sharks that live in the Gulf of Mexico, most are not a threat to human safety, and swimming in Clearwater is generally considered safe. Sharks that live in the Gulf of Mexico include:

  • Bull sharks – Bull sharks can grow quite large, and as they can be aggressive, they are one of the few species you should be concerned about. Bull sharks have a unique ability to adapt to their surrounding water and can swim in both salt and fresh water.
  • Lemon sharks – Like bull sharks, they can also enter freshwater areas, but unlike bull sharks, lemon sharks rarely bite humans. 
  • Nurse sharks – You may have seen people swimming with nurse sharks in the Bahamas on social media. Nurse sharks are docile, friendly sharks who only attack in self-defense when they feel threatened.  
  • Hammerhead sharks – Great hammerheads and scalloped hammerheads are found in the Gulf and Tampa Bay, but scalloped hammerheads are more common. 
  • Blacktip sharks – One of the most common sharks near Clearwater. Blacktip sharks have been known to bite and release but pose no threat in fatal shark attacks.
  • Bonnethead shark  – a small, harmless shark of 3 or 4 feet in length.
  • Tiger shark – A larger shark of between 10-14 feet. They have been known to attack humans.
  • Shortfin mako shark – These sharks are endangered. 
  • Blacknose shark – A small shark of about 5 feet that is no danger to humans.

Safety Tips To Minimize The Risk Of A Shark Attack

Humans are not part of a shark’s diet; thus, most shark attacks are accidental. Many attacks are unprovoked and non-fatal, but there are measures you can take to minimize your risk of being mistaken for a seal or some other shark meal. 

To keep safe, avoid the following:

  • Swimming in murky water
  • Swimming or surfing at dawn, dusk, or at night
  • Swimming or surfing with an open wound or cut – sharks are attracted to blood and can smell one drop of blood from miles away
  • Feeding areas – fishing boats or flocks of seabirds are good indicators
  • Bright-colored swimwear as it attracts sharks’ attention

Are Great White Sharks In Florida?

When most people wonder about sharks in a specific area, what they are really asking is, “are there great white sharks?” Unfortunately, the movie “Jaws” has scarred an entire generation!

Great white sharks prefer colder water, and as the water around the state of Florida is warm, they are not a common sight. However, they do frequent Florida waters on occasion.

As great white sharks are a vulnerable species, many sharks are tagged with location-tracking devices. In addition, thanks to passionate research teams, some sharks have their own Twitter account where you can stay up-to-date about their whereabouts!

So, if and when a great white enters the waters of Florida, it is likely that the authorities are aware of it and will take the necessary action to keep beach-goers safe. 

What Beach In Florida Has The Least Sharks?

Sharks are everywhere in the state of Florida. Therefore, it is hard to pinpoint a particular beach with the least sharks.

However, some counties have more shark attacks than others. The counties with the least unprovoked shark attacks are Okaloosa County, Nassau Country, and Escambia County.

When Are Sharks Most Active In Florida?

Many of the shark species found around Florida are migratory. The migration patterns of sharks depend on the species and external factors like food sources and water temperature. 

During the winter, most sharks prefer to move away from the coastline and south. However, they migrate north and closer to the beach during the warmer summer months between April and October. 

Sharks are the most active inshore during the summer, but September is the month with the most sharks. As summer is also a popular time for humans to frequent the beach, it is understandable that most shark attacks happen during this time. 


There are many sharks in and around Clearwater, but beach-goers don’t need to be overly concerned.

Most shark attacks are simply a case of the shark mistaking a human for food, and more often than not, they let go once they realize their mistake. Therefore, very few attacks are fatal.

If you have a great fear of sharks, you are better off on the western coast of Florida at beaches like Clearwater, where the beaches are sandy and the water clear. So enjoy your getaway, and try to forget about sharks lurking about.

Photo of author
About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.