Are there sharks in Albania? What to do when you encounter one?

Albania is a perfect country for spending lovely holiday days on the beach. It’s hot, it’s filled with beautiful landscapes and some great beaches. But are you safe on Albanian coasts? Are there sharks and shark attacks in Albania?


Are there sharks in Albania?

Albania is located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, at the junction of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. As such, it’s not a matter of whether there are sharks here, but rather how many. It’s estimated that there are around 30-40 shark species in the area. Fortunately, only two are potentially dangerous to humans: shortfin mako and the great white shark. The chances of you coming face to face with them? Practically zero.

Sharks don’t actually come near the coasts and have their own feeding chains. There are also many sharks which prefer to stay in the depths of the sea and not come out near the surface too often. As such, yes, there are sharks in Albania, and yes, Albania’s beaches are safe. As long as you keep to the designated areas and follow instructions, you’ll be completely fine, don’t worry. Still, let’s go over the rest of the shark situation in Albania, just for a hypothetical scenario.


What sharks are there in Albania?

Only three species regularly fall into fishing nets: blue shark, shortfin mako and the common thresher. Other species are rarely caught. However, in October 2017, a professional fishing boat landed a bigeyed sixgill shark – Hexanchus Nakamurai – and brought him onto the port of Himara on Albania’s southern coast. This was the first time this species had been spotted in the Mediterranean Sea.


What attracts sharks?

Sharks are most active at dawn and dusk. They are also not bothered by water that is not very clear. Channels would be prime spots where sharks would want to go, for instance. Sharks are attracted to freshly caught fish and, of course, blood, which they can sense from hundreds of meters away. If you’re diving out in the open sea, avoid wearing brightly coloured suits, as that also attracts sharks.


What should we do if we encounter a shark in Albania?

First of all, if there was actually a report of a shark somewhere near Albania (which captains would be aware of), don’t swim up to these spots. If you were to be in the water at that time and you spotted the distinctive fin, you would need to swim very calmly to the shore or boat. Rapid movements and hitting the water hard only stimulates the shark. If you make lots of noise, you are basically making the shark curious – the only thing a shark has to check what you are is his jaw. There’s also the tip of facing the shark as it circles you – sharks circle their prey to ambush them when the prey is not looking. Calmly wait until it loses interest or slowly back away while making sure that the shark knows that it’s under surveillance.

Secondly, if you’re quite certain that the shark is actually attacking, then you can’t just pretend you’re dead – the shark doesn’t need you to be alive. Instead, you have to fight back: sharks’ gills are very sensitive and a jab at them would be a good way to scare off the shark. If you have any object with you that you could turn into a weapon, do it. It can be life or death, this isn’t the time to ponder the resale value.


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