Still, more people drown or are injured or killed by bee stings, lightning, or snakebites every year than are attacked by sharks. Nevertheless, great whites are dangerous to humans in the water, and some regions have reported more captures or attacks than others. The few shark attacks that occur every year are an excellent indication that sharks do not feed on humans and that most attacks are simply due to mistaken identity.
American researchers documented 115 attacks by great whites world-wide from the 1926 to 1991. Off South Africa there were 29 attacks, six of them fatal. But a total of 89 shark attacks with 28 fatalities have been reported in S.A since 1940, so some of these are attributable to other species.
Why are great whites dangerous? Contrary to some popular counts, they are dangerous simply because we, as land dwellers, do not naturally fit into the ocean environment where these large, fast predators view humans as potential prey. They may also react to people in the water as territory invaders that need to be chased off, possibly explaining the many single-bite attacks attributed to great whites where victims have survived.
The number of attacks has been increasing over the decades as a result of increased human populations and the use of the oceans for recreational activity. As long as humans continue to enter the sharks' environment, there will be shark attacks.