Areal Distribution of the White Shark

The white shark is found worldwide in temperate and cool waters, sometimes entering tropical regions. A specific distribution guide will be published soon in:

FERGUSSON, I.K, & L.J.V. COMPAGNO. 1996. "Distribution" in: Species Status Account: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lamiformes: Lamnidae). Unpublished (full) text for Coastal-Pelagic species section in: IUCN Red List of Threatened Chondrichthyes (S.L. Fowler, ed.).

Thanks to Ian Fergusson for permission to reproduce the section here.

Areal Distribution

A synopsis of confirmed worldwide occurrences are listed below by geographic region. Indices of relative abundance (based on capture-records, sightings, interactions with man) are abbreviated thus:

CA: Center of Abundance
F: Frequent
O: Occasional
I: Infrequent
R: Rare
VR: Very Rare

Further remarks are added where relevant.

Northwest Atlantic and Caribbean:

Gulf of St Lawrence, Newfoundland, St. Pierre Bank, Sable Island, Bay of Fundy (O-R);
New Brunswick, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Martha's Vineyard, Long Island, New York coastline and offshore, particularly within the 30-fathom contour (CA; F);
south along US coast through the Carolinas to Florida (R-O) Gulf of Mexico, principally western Florida shores (I) but ranging past the Mississippi Delta to at least Corpus Christie, Texas (R);
Caribbean occurrences - Florida Keys, Cuba (Cojimar), Bahamas (R).

Literature: Pratt and Casey (1985); Bigelow and Schroeder (1948); Schroeder (1938, 1939); Springer (1939); Piers (1934); Scattergood (1962); Scud (1962); Day and Fisher (1954); Templeman (1963); Guitart and Milera (1974).

Southwest Atlantic:

Central and Southern Brazil (R-VR), 10 examples known to 1993 of which 6 were from Rio de Janeiro State, 3 from Ceara State and 1 from Espirito Santo State;
Argentinean coast at Puerto Quequen (Necochea) and south to at least C. Blanco (R).

Literature: Siccardi et al. (1981); Gadig and Rosa (1996); Gadig, pers. comm.

Northeast Atlantic:

Charente-Maritime coast of France (La Rochelle and Pertuis d'Aintoche; VR), north to the mouth of the Loire (VR, 1 old record);
Gulf of Gascogne, Northern Spanish and Portuguese coast southwards to Tarifa and Gibraltar (VR).
Azores Archipelago (I);
Madeira (VR).
Morocco, Mauritania, to Senegambia (Dakar region at Ile de Goree and environs), Ghana and Cape Verde Is. (R).
Canary Islands at Gran Canaria and Tenerife; probably Lanzarote (VR?).
Possibly Zaire but literature confusion likely with bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas;
Gulf of Guinea, possible (B. Seret, pers. comm.).

Literature: Quero et al. (1978); Cadenat and Blache (1981); Fergusson (1996); Ellis and McCosker (1991, for Azores).

Mediterranean Sea (CA):

Spain and Balearics, including Catalon Sea at Valencia, Vinaroz and Islas Columbretes; also recently (1992) from Tossa de Mar and Andraitx, Majorca; Cabo Salinas, Majorca; Menorca (R).
Gulf of Lyons, particularly Sete, Palavas and Grau-du-Rois (I-O);
Provence and Cote D'Azur (I), Ligurian Sea, especially from Camogli and Portofino to La Spezia (O-R).
Western Italy (Tyrrhenian Sea: Elba, Anzio, San Felice Circeo, Ponza, Lipari Islands, Naples, Calabria Region), Corsica, Sardinia, especially northern part at Capo Testa; southwest region at Isola di San Pietro (O);
Morocco and Melilla (O);
Algerian coast (I-O?), Tunisia, principally La Galite Islands, Cape Bon area and Gulf of Gabes near Kerkennah Islands and Djerba (O), Sicily (cosmopolitan, especially Egadi Islands, Trapani Region and Messina); Sicilian Channel, Pantelleria, Isole Pelagie and offshore banks (F-O); Malta and Gozo (I).
Ionian Sea off Calabria (Capo Spartivento) and Galipolli. Southern and Central Adriatic off Puglia, Manfredonia, Ancona and Termoli; also Dalmatian coast near Split (I-O), Northern Adriatic, principally Istria and Kvarner Gulf of Croatia (I, formerly F), sporadically at Riccione, Rimini and in the Gulfs of Venice and Trieste.
Corfu, Corinth, Greek Mainland and Aegean Sea (Thermaikos Gulf, Thassos, Kavalla, Alexandroupolis) through Turkish coast (Foca region) to Bosphorus (R) but not Black Sea.
Cyprus (O), Israel ('Akko) and Egypt (Agamy, near Alexandria) (R).

Literature: Doderlein (1881); Lozano Rey (1928); Tortonese (1956); Postel (1958); Bini (1960); Capape et al. (1976); Fergusson (1994a,b, 1995, 1996 and in press); Mojetta et al. (in press).

Southeast Atlantic:

Gough Island (single recent record).
Namibia, from Cape Cross and Swakopmund southwards (O, but little data) possibly (probably?) north to mid-Angola; entire Cape Province (CA, F), especially eastwards of the Cape of Good Hope in False Bay, Walker Bay, Gansbaai, Danger Point, Kleinbaai, Dyer Island group, Cape Agulhas region (Struisbaai, Die Mond, Arniston) and entire Wild Coast (F) to Port Elizabeth; Algoa Bay (especially Bird Island) to Natal (F); northerly extent of range along the Indian Ocean coast of Africa presently uncertain.

Literature: Bass et al. (1975); Cliff et al. (1989, 1996); Compagno (1991 and pers. comm); Compagno and Fergusson (1994); Levine (1996); Smith (1951).

Indian Ocean:

Northern Natal coast (F) but more sporadic towards tropical extremes, very probably Southern Mozambique and Madagascar based on recent sightings;
Kenyan coast (confirmed, incl. pregnant female) but northerly extension to range in Western Indian Ocean is unclear.
Appears absent in the Red Sea (one old, doubtful record) or a very occasional outlier at best.
Kuwait coast and Persian Gulf (VR);
Seychelles Island (VR), Cargados archipelago (VR);
Sri Lanka (VR).

Literature: Cliff et al. (1989); Khalaf (1987); Compagno (unpubl. data).

Indo-Pacific and Western Pacific:

Kamchatka region (VR, possibly dubious), Japanese Islands (Honsu and Hokkaido, including Inland Sea) (CA; O);
Okinawa (I), Eastern Chinese Coast (VR), Korean Peninsula at Pusan (VR), Taiwan at Keelung (VR);
possibly South China Sea along the Chinese coast and off Hong Kong (VR, possibly dubious at latter);
Coral Sea (VR);
Philippines (Palawan, Mindanao) and Bonin Island (VR).

Australia: Queensland (F-O) but not extreme northern regions, entire coastline to NSW and South Australia (CA; F), Tasmania (F-O), Great Australian Bight (CA; F), Western Australia (CA; F-O).
New Zealand, both North and South Islands (CA; O), particularly Dunedin, Otago peninsula and environs on South Island (F-O).
Stewart Island, Chatham Islands (O); Campbell Island, recent attack there upon a diver (I-R?).
New Caledonia (VR).

Literature: Nakano and Nakaya (1987); Uchida et al. (1996); Bruce (1992); Last and Stevens (1994); Francis (1996); Ayling and Cox (1982); Cappo (1988).

Central Pacific:

Hawaiian Islands off Oahu, Hawaii and Northwestern Islands (R);
Marshall Islands at Bikini (VR);
Easter Island (VR?) based on recent shark attack data.

Literature: Taylor (1985; 1993).

Northeast Pacific:

Gulf of Alaska (VR), British Columbia, Washington State (R), Oregon Coasts (O), relative abundance steadily increases southwards to Northern California (CA; F), Central California (CA; F, particularly from Sonoma County, Marin Co., the Gulf of the Farallones, Ano Nuevo Island, Santa Cruz, Monterey Peninsula to the Big Sur; Southern California and Channel Islands (CA; F-O), Baja and offshore at Isla de Guadalupe (O).
Sea of Cortez (I-R), Mexico (R) to Panama (R).

Literature: Klimley (1985, 1996); Royce (1963); Pike (1962); Fitch (1949); Kenyon (1958); Follet (1966); LeMier (1951); Kato (1965); Bonham (1942); see Klimley & Ainley (eds) (1996) for further refs.

Southeast Pacific:

From Panama south through Ecuador and Peru to Chile; data rather sketchy, however, for range north of Chile.
Northern and Central Chile (CA; O) to Archipelago de los Chonos (45S), possibly more southerly to Cape Horn.

Literature: Engaņa and McCosker (1987)

Full Literature References are coming ASAP