Are There Sharks in Croatia?

Last updated on January 13th, 2023 at 04:51 pm

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!

Let’s talk more about what you should know about sharks in Croatia, and what sea creatures you do have to worry about.

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 before, there are sharks living in Croatia’s Adriatic Sea. Are they dangerous? Not really.

There are a total of 33 different species of sharks in Croatia including the blue shark, tiger shark, shortfin mako shark, and even the great white shark. Yet, researchers have confirmed that most of the sharks that live in the Croatian Adriatic are harmless varieties, and reach only a meter to a meter and a half in length (3 to 5 feet).

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.

Are Sharks a Problem 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 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 15 years ago! 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.

See all of the shark attacks ever recorded in Croatia 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!

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

Other Dangerous Sea Creatures in Croatia

Now that you know 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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