If you are considering Myrtle Beach scuba diving, swimming or other water activities, you may be wondering what sharks are common at Myrtle Beach. There are many shark species found off the South Carolina coast in the USA, some of which may or may not surprise you. But if you want to see sharks, or perhaps you don’t want to see sharks, it’s important you know which sharks are found in Myrtle Beach.
There are around 40 species of shark at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but the most common sharks found off this coast of the USA include spinner sharks, sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, bull sharks, blacktip sharks, tiger sharks and great white sharks.
Sharks that are pinged from tags placed on them by Ocearch in Long Bay where Myrtle Beach is found include great white sharks and tiger sharks. These are the two largest sharks found in the oceans after the largest shark, which is a whale shark. The latest pings from sharks in Long Bay are shown in the image below.
Are sharks common at Myrtle Beach?
There are many sharks at Myrtle Beach, and some species of shark found on this part of the USA coast may surprise you. The common sharks at Myrtle Beach include the following species of shark:
- Sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus): The sandbar shark is closely related to the bull shark and can grow up to 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in length and 120kg (264lbs).
- Blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus): Blacktip sharks are the most common of all sharks in Myrtle Beach and grow to about 70kg (154lbs) and 13-16 metres (4-5 feet) long. It is the blacktips that are found searching for food in the surf on Myrtle Beach, which includes fish, but not humans.
- Spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna): Spinner sharks grow to around 3 metres (10 feet) in length and around 90kg (200lbs).
- Sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus): Despite how menacing sand tiger sharks look, these sharks are very docile sharks and present no threat to humans. The measure up to 3.6 metres (11.8 feet) and weigh up to 290kg (640lbs). Sand tigers are also known as the ragged tooth shark.
- Bull sharks* (Carcharhinus leucas): Bull sharks have the highest level of testosterone of any animal and are highly aggressive sharks. They are able to live in salt water and fresh water, so are likely to swim up the rivers near Myrtle Beach. Bull sharks grow to over 340kg (750lbs) and 3.4 metres (11 feet) in length.
- Tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier): Tiger sharks can grow to over 4.3 metres (14 feet) and weigh up to 635kg (1,400lbs). They are unmistakable due to the tiger-like stripes on their flanks and the broad mouth. Said to live in Myrtle Beach year-round, but are most common between March and November when the waters are warmer.
- Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias): The Great white shark is the most feared shark of them all, which is partly down to Spielberg’s film Jaws. The white sharks leave Myrtle Beach area when the waters get warm in the summer months and most leave around March time. They return in November/December time when the waters cool down again. Great whites can grow to over 6.1 metres (20 feet) in length and weigh over 2,300kg (5,000lbs).
- Hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna gilberti): South Carolina is home to four types of hammerhead sharks, which include the bonnethead, scalloped, Carolina and great hammerhead sharks. The largest of all hammerheads is the Great Hammerhead shark, which can grow to 580kg (1,280lbs) and up to 4.3 metres (14 feet) in length.
- Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris): Lemon sharks tend to live in groups and can grow to 3.7 metres (12 feet) in length and over 250kg (551lbs).
* Fun Fact: It is the bull shark that was blamed for a series of attacks in 1916, which was the inspiration for Peter Benchley’s book Jaws, which Steven Spielberg turned into the blockbuster movie in 1975.
You may or may not want to watch this video of multiple sharks close to the shore at Myrtle Beach:
Is it safe to swim in Myrtle Beach today?
It is safe to swim from the beach at Myrtle Beach, unless there are signs to suggest otherwise. Whilst there are sharks in the waters off the beach at Myrtle Beach, you are unlikely to ever be attacked or bitten by a shark. But you might like to read the safety tips listed towards the end of this article if you intend to go swimming, boogie boarding or surfing at Myrtle Beach.
Are there great white sharks in Myrtle Beach?
There are great white sharks in Myrtle Beach from no earlier than October and no later than May every year. Great white sharks are most common in Myrtle Beach from December to March when the waters are in the range 12-24 °C (54-75 °F).
Great white shark “Beacon” tagged of Myrtle Beach March 2021
The most recent white shark tagged by Ocearch was Beacon, which was in March 2021 as per the above image. You will also see the great white shark Gurney was tagged in May 2019 too, which shows that white sharks are still around this late in the year.
If you would like to discover where else you can find great white sharks, with a few surprises, please take a read of this article: Where to find great white sharks. The places that surprised me the most were Florida Keys and the great white shark spotted by a snorkeler on the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
Talking about snorkeling, you may be wondering if the snorkeling is any good at Myrtle Beach. If you are, please take a read of this article: Is there good snorkeling in Myrtle Beach.
Are there bull sharks in Myrtle Beach?
There are bull sharks in Myrtle Beach and they are at their peak numbers between July and August, but bull sharks are in South Carolina between March and October every year. Bull sharks thrive near rivers and estuaries, and love places like Charleston, but they are found in the sea off Myrtle Beach.
The following video is in Cherry Grove, which is one of the creeks in Myrtle Beach. Wait for the moment when a bull shark steals the catch of someone fishing.
Safety tips to avoid shark attacks when entering the water at Myrtle Beach
Whilst the risks associated with shark attacks at Myrtle Beach are very low, you reduce the risk even more by following these safety tips when entering the sea at Myrtle Beach:
- Avoid swimming at dawn or dusk, as you may get mistaken for prey.
- Don’t swim near where people fishing.
- Don’t swim near to the Myrtle Beach Springmaid Pier, as this is a common spot for fishermen and their bate will attracted sharks. Fishermen often chuck their bait into the water, which will attract sharks to this area (see video below).
- Avoid swimming in the ocean during or immediately after storms, as the bait fish are stirred up which the sharks will feed upon. If you are swimming among the baitfish, you may get bitten by mistake (see video below).
- Avoid the steep drop-offs and the deep areas between the sandbars, as this is the ideal spot for sharks to hunt for their prey.
- Try to avoid being a solitary swimmer, as sharks are more likely to attack someone on their own rather than in a group or swimmers.
- If you spot anyone shouting and waving at you to get out of the water, especially if they are making shark-fin signs, don’t hesitate and get out of the water immediately.
- Don’t boogie board or surf next to the pier, as this is a spot frequented by sharks due to the fishing. Plus you may also wrap yourself around one of the pier posts.
- Stay out of the water if the warning signs indicate to do so.
- Don’t wear shiny jewellery, as this may be mistaken by sharks for the shiny scales of a fish.
If you want confirmation of the sharks near Springmaid Pier in Myrtle Beach, the following video in May 2017 shows many large sharks circling below the fishermen on the pier.
This is a video of the classic feeding strategy of a spinner shark feeding on baitfish in Myrtle Beach, wait for it to jump out of the water, which is what it does to catch fish like sardines, herring and tuna:
Keep in mind that you are entering the sharks territory, the sea is their home and you need to respect that. But also, the dangers associated with rip tides are more likely to be a concern to swimmers on Myrtle Beach. More beach users die as a result of drowning in rip-currents than from shark attacks.
Safety Tip: Always remember if you get caught in a rip-current (which will be dragging you out to sea), swim across the current not against it. This means you should be swimming parallel to the beach, and within a short distance you will swim out of the current. If you try to swim against the rip-current, you’ll tire and get into serious trouble.
Before you leave my scuba diving blog, and if you are interested in learning more about sharks, you may like to know what fish can eat sharks. In this article there are two videos you may not believe unless you see them for yourself. Please take a look at what fish eat sharks…I’m hoping you’ll be as surprised as I was when I watched both these videos.
Are sharks bad in Myrtle Beach?
The sharks in Myrtle Beach are not bad, as they are simple going about their business in their own environment. Having said that, three of the most dangerous sharks to humans are very common in Myrtle Beach, which include great white sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks.
Have there been any shark attacks on Myrtle Beach?
According to Myrtle Beach, there have been about 50 shark attacks recorded on the local beaches in Myrtle Beach over the last 100 years. No shark attack has been fatal since 1852.
With over 15 million visitors to the Myrtle Beach area each year, this means the odds of being bitten by a shark in Myrtle Beach is roughly 1 in 4,000,000. Which means you are more likely to be struck by lightning than be bitten by a shark.
Shark diving Myrtle Beach
One of the best places to scuba dive to see sand tiger sharks from Myrtle Beach is on the Raritan wreck, the Hebe wreck and the St. Cathan wreck. But if you want to see bull sharks, you are more likely to spot these if you spear fish off the South Carolina coast.
In the next video, spear fishing divers off the South Carolina coast are visited by a bull shark interested in the injured fish. Whilst this is a dive from Charleston, SC, this demonstrates there are bull sharks in the area. Having said that Charleston is on an estuary, which is an area liked by bull sharks, so these sharks are probably more common on this part of the South Carolina coast.
The following video is from the Hebe wreck off Myrtle Beach. The first sand tiger appears at 2:32 in the video.
Can you swim with sharks at Myrtle Beach?
You can swim with sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks and nurse sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. The experience lasts for around 30 minutes and you need to be a certified diver to take part in the experience.
The best place to see sharks in Myrtle Beach
The best place to see sharks in Myrtle Beach is on Springmaid Pier, as they are easier to spot from above the water than by standing on the beach. Other places to see sharks in Myrtle Beach include Ridley’s Aquarium, or as a scuba diver you can dive from Myrtle Beach to see sharks like sand tigers.
Where are the sharks in Myrtle Beach?
The sharks in Myrtle Beach are found across the whole of Long Bay, which is the bay where Myrtle Beach sits in the middle. The different types of sharks will be found at differing depths and places.
Where to find the types of sharks found in Myrtle Beach:
- Bull sharks are found near rivers and in estuaries and feeding in the surf, between the sand bars and where the seabed drops off to deeper water.
- Sandbar and blacktips will be found in the shallows hunting for fish in the surf and between the sand bars and where the seabed drops off to deeper water.
- Spinner sharks can be found in the surf feeding on menhaden, herring and sardines (see video below).
- Sand tiger sharks will be offshore in the deeper waters off Myrtle Beach and can be found diving on wrecks.
- Tiger sharks will patrol the outer banks off Myrtle Beach and will feed on almost anything. Tiger sharks are partial to turtles, where loggerhead turtles can be found off Myrtle Beach. They are likely to patrol the coast where the seabed drops off to deeper waters too.
- Great white sharks will largely be patrolling the deeper waters off Myrtle Beach around a mile offshore, so beach goers don’t need to worry. But if you’re a scuba diver, there’s every chance you may come face-to-face with a great white shark in the winter months off Myrtle Beach (see video below). I say largely that great white sharks patrol in deeper waters, but this TikTok video tells another story with a great white shark patrolling in shallow waters on a few metres off the beach:
A video of spinner sharks feeding on a large shoal of menhaden fish right off Myrtle Beach Springmaid Pier. Not a place to swim when the sharks are feeding, as you may get bitten by mistake in the shark feeding frenzy. Notice how close swimmers get to the shoal at around 0:43 in the video.
To understand more about the great white sharks off the Carolina coast, please take a watch of this video. This is CBS Mornings reporting from Wrightsville Beach 83 miles north of Myrtle Beach in NC and report on the findings of Ocearch shark tagging and research off the Carolina coast.
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