Do Sharks Attack Boats? [Some Of Them – Here’s Why!]

Sharks are predators with great vision, but they sometimes get confused causing them to attack objects like kayaks, engines, and rafts.

Some sharks attack boats, but it is because of confusion. Sharks don’t attempt to sink boats out of malice. Instead, murky waters and hard materials can lead to a big case of mistaken identity.

Why Do Sharks Attack Boats?

Sharks have great eyesight, which is why scientists are still trying to understand why these fearsome predators attack rubber, plastic, and metal boats.

More commonly, sharks also attack kayaks as they are smaller and easier to turn over. Not all shark attacks include taking large bites out of items. 

Instead, usually a larger shark, like a bull shark or great white shark, will circle the boat before attacking. When it attacks, sharks use their cartilaginous and flexible body to powerfully bump into the boat.

Usually, sharks mistake the boat or kayak for another vulnerable animal. Kayaks and boats underneath the water look like sea lions and seals.

Also, sharks have unique senses including the ability to sense electromagnetic fields. Motors give off electromagnetic waves similar to a shark’s prey.

What To Do If Your Boat Is Attacked By A Shark

It can be scary to encounter a shark in the wild, but as long as you remain calm, you will be okay! Sharks are not particularly fond of the taste of human meat or the hard material from the boat.

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Usually, a shark will bump the boat with its tail using full force or take a bite from the side of the boat. 

There is nothing you can do. The best thing you can do in this situation is to stay still.

There are less than one hundred shark attacks in any year and yet millions of people swim and participate in water activities.

It may be tempting to use an object to hit the shark, but this can cause even more confusion. Sharks will not attack twice unless they feel threatened or like the taste, which they don’t.

More times than not, a shark will bite a kayak or boat, and simply dive deep into the water and swim away. Remember, sharks are nothing like what you see in jaws.

Can A Shark Take Down A Boat?

Sharks do not purposely follow humans and boats to consume the large metallic floating device. But, if a shark is tempted or trying to protect something, it can continue to bang or bite a boat until it is down.

Although rare, some kayakers have also reported being knocked off their kayaks and into the water, but they are unharmed.

However, while a shark can take down a small boat, it is unlikely. Heavier boats, like large cruise ships, are too large and move too fast for even Great White sharks to bite.

Shark Species That Frequently Attack Boats

Not all shark species are large enough or confident enough to attack a boat, even when confused. For example, you won’t find a whale shark, which is known as a gentle giant, attacking a boat.

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Instead, in a study, about 61% of whale sharks have boat injuries. They are more likely to sustain gashes and cuts from a boat than harm a boat.

Bull sharks are the most common type of shark to attack boats. They are large and frequently swim through coasts where there are humans, boats, and large schools of fish.

Great White sharks are tied with bull sharks for biting boats and kayaks while unprovoked. Sometimes, tiger sharks, blue sharks, and hammerheads attack boats out of confusion too. 

Shark Diet

If sharks do not eat boats, what do they eat? Every shark has their unique diet. For example, Great White sharks are not picky eaters, but since they are larger fish, they require a heavier diet.

Sharks eat about 1-10% of their body weight during one week. Fun fact about sharks, they will not hunt for more food until their bodies finish digesting their last meal. 

A shark uses their seven senses and lack of bones to hunt for food like squid, seals, crabs, lobsters, fish, and smaller mammals.

It is extremely rare for a shark to feast on adult dolphins or whales, but in acts of desperation, a larger shark may attack baby marine mammals if they are sick or vulnerable.


Overall, sharks attack boats because of confusion. Despite their amazing eyesight, boats and kayaks look like small and vulnerable animals to sharks from underneath the water.

They are also attracted to the electric signals and waves given off by the engine’s motor. Sharks let go of boats since they do not like the taste.

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James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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