These are the biggest, most dangerous sea creatures ever! From dangerous shark attacks to lethal jellyfish stings, we’re counting down the worst sea monster attacks in history.
6: Bull Sharks
Bull sharks can be found in oceans & rivers throughout all parts of the world, primarily in warm waters. Their ability to adapt to freshwater makes it possible for them to swim up rivers & not just confine themselves to saltwater. Due to their aggressive nature & proclivity to occupy shallow waters, they are among the most dangerous sea creatures in the world. Bulls sharks only grow to a maximum of 13 feet long on average & weigh about 290 pounds. But it was also this species that served as the inspiration for the 1974 horror novel, Jaws, which of course was adopted into the classic horror film of the same name a year later. The events that inspired this movie were the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. From July 1st to the 12th, 1916, five people were attacked by bull sharks, four of which were killed. Charles Epting was the first victim on July 1st after a shark bit his leg, from which he later bled to death. Five days later on July 6th, another man named Charles Bruder was killed by a shark at a resort town in Spring Lake, New Jersey. He sustained such serious injuries while swimming close to shore, that he bled to death before lifeguards could manage to get him to safety. On July 12th, a group of young boys was playing in the water in Matawan Creek in Keyport, New Jersey. Among this group of boys was 11-year-old Lester Stilwell, who was splashing around with his friends when an 8-foot long bull shark approached the group then proceeded to pull Stilwell down into the water. His friends got help from a group of men that came to the rescue. One of them was local businessman, Watson Fisher, who jumped into the water to retrieve the boy’s body. Fisher, too, was attacked as the townspeople stood by & watched the gruesome scene unfold in front of their very own eyes. Fisher lost Stilwell’s corpse but managed to escape himself. However, he bled to death in the hospital just two days later. Only a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Dunn survived the series of bull shark attacks. He was rescued by his brother & a group of friends on the same day as Lester Stilwell’s death. Dunn escaped the attack & spent the next two months recovering in a hospital. To this day, there is still no clear consensus explaining the sudden spike in shark-related deaths. There is also debate as to whether the attacks were from bull sharks or great white sharks. Witness descriptions make many believe it was bull sharks carrying out these deadly attacks. But weeks after they occurred, fishermen caught & killed a great white shark that nearly sank their boat. They brought the shark’s body back, which scientists dissected & found human remains inside. They’ve since then left open the theory that at least one of the attacks was from a great white while the other attacks in Matawan Creek were likely from bull sharks, as they’re far more likely to swim upstream.
5: Sea Snakes
There are several different species classified under the term “sea snake,” most of which are extremely poisonous. The majority of them grow anywhere between 4 to 9 feet long & as their name would suggest, are fully adapted to living underwater. They also inhabit a wide geographic range, populating both the Pacific & Indian Oceans. Typically, they’re found in shallow waters where humans are more likely to be. Like many snakes, the ones that roam the sea are also venomous. Occasions where they do deploy their venom can be very deadly if left untreated. Early symptoms include headaches, vomiting, & sweating. As the venom progresses, the body may begin to experience a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue. One might also experience a very painful stretching of the muscles as well as lockjaw. Eventually paralysis of the muscles & ptosis—or a drooping of the eyelids—will also set in. The muscle paralysis makes swallowing & breathing difficult. If a venomous bite goes untreated, it could ultimately mean the end of the victim with no hope of recovery.
4: The Box Jellyfish
Box jellyfish can be found in the Indo-Pacific regions, parts of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, & off the coasts of California, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, & South Africa. The largest & most dangerous of this species are often found in waters near Australia. Since the late 19th century, they’re known to have caused 64 deaths in Australia alone. In the Philippines, an estimated 20-40 people die each year from box jellyfish attacks. Aside from posing dangers to humans, they’re also capable hunters in the sea. With quick speed & long tentacles that grow as long as 9 feet, they’re a deadly predator. One unique trait makes the box jellyfish so dangerous is what’s known as their “suckerpunch.” This name stems from their sting, which is usually not detected until after the venom has already been injected. This venom is very poisonous & can induce Irukandji Syndrome, a condition said to have both physical & psychological effects. On the physical side, it causes headache, rash, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, & sweating while the psychological effects include intense anxiety & a sense of doom. Patients suffering from stings are said to feel sure they’re going to die & have been reported to beg doctors to kill them. If not treated correctly, it can also result in cardiac arrest & death.
3: Great White Sharks
Populating all of the major oceans, great whites are also the largest sharks; growing up to 26 feet long & weighing more than 7,000 pounds! Additionally, they’re blamed for more attacks on humans than any other shark species. While humans are not their preferred prey, there have been many deadly attacks on people; most of which are unprovoked. As of 2012, nearly 300 unprovoked attacks on humans have been confirmed; 74 ended up being fatal. Attacks usually occur when sharks cannot see well. However, once they bite humans they usually break off contact. Those who survive the attacks do so because they are able to escape & immediately receive medical attention. The unfortunate souls that don’t survive often bleed to death. Rarely—if ever—are people eaten by sharks. Humans have too many bones & not enough fat for a shark to properly digest them, so they usually back off after taking their first bite. 1990 to 2011 saw an increase in great white shark attacks. 139 attacks were reported, 29 of which resulted in death. Furthermore, not only do they attack swimmers, but they’ve been known to attack boats & kayaks as well. They’ve even succeeded in some instances at sinking small boats.
2: Oceanic Whitetips
Legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau stated that oceanic whitetips are one of the most dangerous sharks in the world. They’re associated with one of the deadliest series of shark attacks ever recorded, which took place on July 30th, 1945 while the United States was at war with Japan. The USS Indianapolis was en route to delivering supplies when it was attacked by Japanese submarines. After being hit by several torpedoes, the vessel began to sink. There were not enough lifeboats for everyone so some men were forced to stay afloat by desperately clinging on to whatever debris they could find. These soldiers that were wading in the water encountered a school of oceanic whitetips, which killed off many of the men & ravaged the corpses of those who were already dead. Nearly 320 soldiers died on that night alone. This behavior of preying on survivors of ship & plane wrecks is actually quite common among oceanic whitetips. In a separate event during World War II, a steamship sunk by the Germans near South Africa lost many of its passengers to whitetips once the ship sank. Again, it is unclear exactly how many people were killed by the sharks. But of the roughly 1,000 people on board, only 192 survived & the oceanic whitetips are blamed for a majority of the deaths.
1: Saltwater Crocodiles
Sitting at 22 feet long & weighing in at 3,000 pounds, the full-grown saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile on earth as well as the largest predator. They populate many different regions, including Australia, India, & parts of Asia. Because of their size, they’re capable of ambushing & killing anything that crosses their paths, including humans. Of all the species on Earth, they pose one of the greatest threats to humans. Since 1971, just over 100 people have been killed by saltwater crocs in Australia. Experts recommend avoiding crocodiles completely, as survival of an attack is very unlikely. One of the most deadly incidents occurred during the Battle of Ramree Island during World War II. A group of Japanese soldiers was retreating from the British army when they stumbled into a nest of crocodiles. While the exact number of fatalities is uncertain, it is likely that many of the retreating Japanese soldiers were killed by saltwater crocs. According to reports from British soldiers, they heard the sound of men screaming for hours as they tried to fend off their reptilian attackers. Of the roughly 900 men that entered the swamps that night, only 20 survived. Saltwater crocodiles will attack humans both for food & to protect their territory. When attacking to protect their territory, humans have a greater chance of survival, especially if the crocodile is not fully grown. However, if a fully grown crocodile preys on a person for food, there is little to no chance of survival. One of the best known survivor is ecofeminist Val Plumwood, who survived an attack in 1985. While canoeing through a lagoon at a park in Australia, her canoe was tipped over by a large saltwater croc. She tried to escape, but the croc bit her leg & puller her into the water then subjected her to its infamous death roll. She managed to escape & climbed a bank. Though her leg was exposed to the bone, she managed to crawl to safety & was taken to a hospital where she recovered months later. Survival stories like these are rare & as such, saltwater crocodiles are among the most feared predators in the world.