Sharks in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a tropical paradise home to a wide range of diverse marine species. This naturally includes several shark species as well.

However, if you plan to travel to Costa Rica, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Sharks generally ignore humans as they are not part of their usual diet. Most bites occur due to mistaken identity, i.e., the shark mistakes the silhouette of a human on a surfboard for a seal when looking up.

Though the chances are low, if an aggressive species like a bull or tiger shark has been seen around a specific beach or reef, it would be best to avoid the area for a while.

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Costa Rica

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Blacktip Reef Shark 3-4 feet Moderately aggressive (if provoked)
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Bull Shark 7-12 feet Highly aggressive
Caribbean Reef Shark 8-9 feet Not aggressive
Cookiecutter Shark 1.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive
Dusky Shark 9 -12 feet Not aggressive (until provoked)
Galapagos Shark 9.8-12 ft Highly aggressive
Great Hammerhead Shark 15-20 feet Highly aggressive
Lemon Shark 9-10 feet Not aggressive
Nurse Shark 7-8 feet Not aggressive
Oceanic Whitetip Shark 10-13 feet Highly aggressive
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark 9-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Silky Shark 7-10 feet Highly aggressive
Silvertip Shark 6.6-9.8 feet Moderately aggressive
Tiger Shark 10-14 feet Highly aggressive
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
Whitetip Reef Shark 3-5.5 feet Moderately aggressive (only when provoked)

FAQ

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There have been only ten unprovoked shark attacks between 1900 and 2020, meaning these occur rarely. As per official records, the last known fatality was caused by a bull shark on 19th June 2011 in Guanacaste during a surfing incident.

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Great white sharks are seldom seen in Costa Rica.

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Several sharks, including two species of hammerhead, are critically endangered and might go extinct in about 20 years.

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Yes, these activities are arranged around Cocos Island in Costa Rica.

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Whale sharks feed on plankton, which blooms during the wet season. So, the best time for viewing whale sharks is between June and November.

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