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Are There Sharks in Croatia? 2023 (Local’s Guide)

If you are traveling to Croatia, you may be wondering “are there sharks in Croatia?”

The short answer is yes.

However, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about them! I’ve been living in Croatia full time since 2014 and have been traveling to the country my entire life. In those 30+ years, I’ve spent countless summers on the Croatian coast and have yet to see a shark myself, or hear of anyone I know encountering one.

So fear not! The chances of coming across a shark while swimming in Croatia are incredibly slim. However, it’s important to be cautious of other marine creatures that may pose a potential threat.

In this post, we’ll dive into everything you should know about sharks in Croatia. Plus, we’ll cover some of the other most dangerous animals in Croatia that you may come across when swimming in the Adriatic Sea.

Shark swimming in open water (but probably not in Croatia as they are rare there)!
Photo: Chase Baker

Sharks in Croatia: What You Should Know

As I mentioned earlier, there are sharks living in Croatia’s Adriatic Sea.

In fact, a great white shark was caught in September 2023 by a group of fishermen near Rogoznica.

Are sharks in Croatia dangerous? Not really.

According to a research paper penned by Alen Soldo from the Department of Marine Studies at the University of Split, there are a total of 33 different types of sharks in Croatia, including the blue shark, tiger shark, shortfin mako shark, porbeagle shark, and even the great white shark. Many of the species only reach a meter to a meter and a half in length (3 to 5 feet).

Yet, researchers have confirmed that most of the sharks that live in the Croatian Adriatic are harmless varieties.

From time to time, more dangerous species may enter the Adriatic Sea, but they usually keep to themselves and stay in deeper waters. Most people probably won’t even notice when they drop by as there are hardly ever any encounters.

Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, fishing, or out on a boat tour, you’re most likely only going to run into fish in the Adriatic sea. There are other Adriatic sea animals like jellyfish and sea urchins that live in the water as well, but more on them later.

A shark swimming near Korcula Island in Croatia in 2019.

Shark Attacks in Croatia

While learning that sharks do in fact swim in Croatian waters might cause you to gasp in horror, I assure you that shark attacks in Croatia are extremely uncommon.

Here’s a look at the most recent shark attacks in Croatia by year:

  • Sharks in Croatia 2023 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2022 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2021 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2020 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2019 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2018 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2017 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2016 – NONE ✅
  • Sharks in Croatia 2015 – NONE ✅

You get the point.

Shark attacks in Croatia are so rare that the last shark attack was officially documented on October 6, 2008! A man had been spearfishing in Smokvina Bay just off of Vis Island and was bit by a Great White shark. Thankfully the incident was not fatal and the man survived.

Here’s a sharks in Croatia map detailing where exactly the shark attacks happened:

A map of Croatia showing exactly where sharks in Croatia have attacked swimmers in the Adriatic Sea.
Photo credit: 24sata.hr

See all of the shark attacks ever recorded in Croatia (including shark attack Croatia 2008) in the global Shark Attack Database.

Instances of shark attacks in Croatia are so few and far between, that there have only been 21 incidents over the last 135 years (14 of which have led to death). For comparison, the United States recorded the most unprovoked shark bites (47 to be exact) in the year 2021 alone.

So rest assured that there is no reason to worry about running into a shark in Croatia – just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beach!

What to Do if You Spot a Shark in Croatia?

In the unlikely event that you do encounter a shark in Croatia, remember to stay calm and maintain a safe distance. Avoid frantic movements or splashing. Sharks like great whites are naturally inquisitive and may approach humans, however, they typically don’t view us as a food source.

Also, it’s important to note that if you do see a shark in anywhere on the Adriatic Coast you should immediately alert the Croatian Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries. Tell them you saw a shark in Croatian, which is “morski pas”.

A dog friendly beach in Croatia located on the island of Vis.
One of the best pet friendly beaches in Croatia located on Vis Island.

Other Dangerous Sea Creatures in Croatia

Now that you know that sharks should not be a major cause of concern when planning your trip to Croatia, here are some sea dwellers you may encounter while taking a dip in the crystal clear Adriatic.

Jellyfish

Jellyfish can be found in the Adriatic Sea and are most likely to be seen after they have been pushed to shore by strong winds or currents. Most jellyfish in Croatia are not harmful to humans and only really get close to them by bumping into them due to the natural movement of water.

If you do happen to brush up against their tentacles, they could sting you. This usually produces a burning sensation that will go away on its own and does not require any medical attention.

Sea Urchins

Man holding a sea urchin in the palm of his hand.

Croatia’s rocky coast provides an ideal habitat for sea urchins, so be prepared to see lots of them when you visit Croatia. Locals say that sea urchins are a sign of very clean waters, so rest assured that the water you’re about to dive into is the cleanest! 

Despite dictating water purity, these prickly residents can be a nuisance to swimmers (especially tourists). Sea urchins are known for wedging themselves between rocks, which sometimes makes them hard to identify when climbing out of the water. 

If you step on a sea urchin hard enough, they can pierce through your skin and get stuck. Their spikes are only mildly venomous and can cause, at most, pain and redness. If the spikes are not carefully removed, the wound could become infected. The best advice for avoiding contact with sea urchins while splashing around the Adriatic is to watch where you step.

Some tourists like to wear water shoes to ensure that they are 100% protected from the possibility of stepping on a sea urchin. Plus, they will certainly make walking along rocky beaches and cliffs much more comfortable. If you want to blend in with the locals though, I would recommend braving the jagged shorelines barefoot. 😉

A woman diving in the sea at Dubovica Beach, Hvar Island
The crystal clear waters off of Dubovica Beach on Hvar Island are perfect for snorkeling.

Weevers (Weeverfish)

When it comes to dangers in Croatia, weevers are one of the stealthiest animals that live in its waters. This sly little fish unassumingly glides along the sea floor, and while it may look cute, it can deliver a very painful injury.

Their dorsal fin contains venomous spines that can cause discomfort, swelling, and in severe cases, symptoms like vomiting, fever, and irregular heart rhythms. Although the injury is not typically life-threatening, it can certainly put a damper on your holiday.

Thankfully Croatia’s beaches are usually pebbled, but you may still run into weevers on a rare strip of sand, or while snorkeling. If you happen to step on a weever, immediately submerge the affected limb in hot water for 30 minutes to alleviate symptoms. This can provide relief and alleviate any discomfort experienced.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sharks in Croatia

When was the last shark attack Croatia saw?

The last shark attack recorded in Croatia was on October 6, 2008. The attack took place in Split Dalmatia County on the island of Vis.

Are sharks a problem in Croatia?

No, sharks are not a problem in Croatia. Both shark encounters and shark attacks are very rare in the Adriatic Sea.

Why are there no sharks in Croatia?

There are, in fact, sharks in Croatia, but many people assume there aren’t any because they have never seen one in the Croatian Adriatic Sea.

Where are there sharks in Croatia?

Sharks can be found all along the Adriatic coast and are not specific to any particular area. However, they typically stay away from crowded beaches and areas where there is a lot of human activity.

Are there sharks in Croatia Dubrovnik?

As mentioned in the question above, although rare, sharks can be found in Dubrovnik, Pasjaca Beach near Dubrovnik, and in other locations along the coast of Croatia.

Are there sharks in Pula Croatia?

If you are visiting Pula, Croatia, including Hawaii Beach, you should not be worried about sharks. Sharks do swim in Croatia’s waters, but the chances of a close encounter with them is zero to none.

Is there sharks in Croatia Split?

Although uncommon, it is possible for Adriatic sea sharks to be spotted in Split and the surrounding area.

Can you swim in the sea in Croatia?

Of course! Croatia’s Adriatic Sea is considered extremely safe for swimming and is one of the major reasons people choose to visit Croatia.

Why is the water in Croatia so clear?

Croatia’s waters are crystal clear, making it super easy to spot sharks! The number one reason why the water is so clear in Croatia is because there is little to no sand. Most of Croatia’s beaches are pebbled or rocky, and waves are mild, so there is nothing to make the water cloudy.

Is there great white sharks in Croatia?

Yes. Out of all the sharks Croatia is home to, the great white is one of the most dangerous. While rare, there have been incidents documented of great white sharks attacking humans in Croatia.

What is the most common shark in Croatia?

The most common shark in Croatia is the Blue Shark. This species is usually found in the southern Adriatic Sea as it prefers warmer waters.

Do jellyfish in Croatia sting?

Unfortunately, yes. Jellyfish stings can be uncomfortable and usually result in burning, prickling or stinging pain. They can be quite itchy, too, but are usually nothing to worry about.

What creatures are in the Adriatic Sea?

– Bottlenose dolphins
– Seahorses
– Crabs
– Sea turtles
– Starfish
– Sea cucumbers

Is snorkeling good in Croatia?

Diving and snorkeling are very popular in Croatia. You can go snorkeling in Mljet National Park to explore the only coral reef in Croatia, explore ancient shipwrecks around the islands, or swim through the most spectacular water at the Blue Lagoon (one of the best things to do in Trogir!).

Conclusion About Sharks in Croatia

All in all, the Croatian Adriatic Sea is a very safe place for swimming and snorkeling. While sharks do occasionally swim in the Adriatic, they rarely ever come near swimming areas and should not be a cause of concern for you when planning your vacation to Croatia.

Just remember to watch your step and keep an eye out for sea urchins!

Now that you know it is completely safe to swim in Croatia, check out my favorite beaches on Hvar island. Also, if you’re island hopping in Croatia, don’t forget to grab Croatia Island Hopping Guidebook for insider tips and local recommendations when planning your trip!

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Croatia Travel Planning Guide

💸 What is the currency in Croatia?
As of January 1st, 2023, the official currency of Croatia is the Euro and NOT the Kuna (which is also the name of the national animal of Croatia).

🇭🇷 What language do they speak in Croatia?
Croatian is the official language of Croatia. Learn some phrases in Croatian before your trip with the Ling app!

🚑 Should I buy Croatia travel insurance?
10000% YES – Seriously, don’t leave home without it. You never know what can happen on the road. I like SafetyWing because they provide excellent coverage for as little as $1.50 a day.

📱 Will my phone work in Croatia?
Maybe – check with your provider to see if you’ll have service while traveling Croatia. If you don’t have service (or it’s too expensive) I recommend getting an eSIM like Airalo. Airalo allows you to have data while traveling without the high costs of roaming. They have super affordable plans available for 190+ countries, including Croatia. Download the app and get your plan before you leave home so that you have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!

🏨 What’s the best way to book my Croatia accommodations?
For Croatia hotels, Booking is by far the best site.

🛫 What’s the best site to buy Croatia flights?
I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.

🚗  Is it safe to rent a Car in Croatia?
Yes! – In fact, renting a car in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the country! I recommend Discover Cars because they check both local and international rental companies to ensure you get the best deal. (Get your Croatia road trip itinerary here)

💦 Is it safe to drink the water in Croatia?
Tap water in Croatia is completely safe to drink, so bring your reusable water bottle and fill up!

🪪 Do I need a visa for Croatia?
Depending on where you are coming from you may or may not need a visa to enter Croatia. Check the official Republic of Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information on who should apply for a visa.

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