For a lot of people, the threat of a shark bite or even an encounter of any kind is out of the question. People will go to astounding lengths to avoid having to see a shark in the water they’re swimming in.
Yes, Krabi’s ocean does have sharks but they are usually the non-aggressive kind that people don’t have to worry about. More common sharks found in Krabi are the whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, leopard sharks, nurse sharks, whale sharks, grey bamboo sharks, and a couple of the more dangerous ones are rarely seen but we list them below.
Sharks like bull sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads, makos, and great whites are very rarely seen in Thailand at all – if ever!
There have been no documented or reported sightings of bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) in the ocean waters around Krabi, Thailand. Bull sharks are found in coastal and freshwater habitats, including rivers and estuaries. They can tolerate both saltwater and freshwater environments, which enables them to swim into rivers and even venture far upstream.
While bull sharks are known to occur in other parts of Thailand, such as the Chao Phraya River and the Gulf of Thailand, there is no good evidence to suggest their presence in the specific waters surrounding Krabi. The coastal areas around Krabi are not really ideal habitats for bull sharks, which prefer areas with more freshwater inputs.
Still, wildlife behavior can be unpredictable, and occasional rare sightings or stray individuals cannot be entirely ruled out. If you’re concerned, consult local authorities, dive operators, or marine biologists who have specific knowledge of the region’s shark populations.
There have been documented sightings of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) in the ocean waters around Krabi, Thailand. But further, out south of Ko Phi Phi, they may exist in more numbers. Tiger sharks are almost always found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide, but they are not commonly encountered in the specific region of Krabi inshore waters. They are very rarely seen.
Tiger sharks are known to inhabit a wide range of habitats, including coastal areas, reefs, and open ocean environments. While they have been reported in other areas of Thailand, such as the Andaman Sea more often.
As with any wildlife, there is always a possibility of rare or sporadic sightings, but it is important to note that tiger sharks are generally not considered a common species in the region.
Hammerhead sharks (genus Sphyrna) have not been officially reported in the inshore waters around Krabi, Thailand. But, some diving sites do list them as potentially in the offshore areas.
Hammerhead sharks are known for their distinctive hammer-shaped heads, with eyes positioned at the outer edges. They are found in tropical and warm-temperate waters around the world. Hammerhead species that have been spotted in the Andaman Sea, which includes the waters around Krabi, include the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) and the smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena).
It’s important to note that hammerhead shark sightings in Krabi are infrequent and not considered a common occurrence. Hammerhead sharks are found in deeper waters, and their presence closer to the coast or popular snorkeling and diving areas is quite rare.
Great White Sharks
No, great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have not been spotted in the ocean waters around Krabi, Thailand. Great white sharks are primarily found in cooler coastal waters and are known for their wide-ranging habitat preferences.
While they are known to occur in certain parts of the world, including areas such as California, South Africa, and Australia, they are not commonly found in the tropical waters of the Andaman Sea, which includes the waters around Krabi.
The waters around Krabi are not within the typical range of great white sharks. The species’ preferred habitat includes colder, temperate regions with higher concentrations of prey species, such as seals and sea lions.
Common Sharks in the Ocean Around Krabi
Many people go diving and snorkeling and enjoy other water activities when they visit Krabi. Marine life abounds just under the surface, and there are many docile shark species you can see like those below. Keep your feet and hands away from them, don’t feed or touch them, and don’t spearfish and you’ll likely come away with great memories!
Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus). This is one of the most commonly sighted sharks in the region. They are small to medium-sized sharks with distinctive black-tipped fins and are found near coral reefs and shallow coastal areas.
Leopard Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum). These sharks are known for their striking appearance, with dark spots and bands on their bodies. They are calm and non-aggressive and can often be seen resting on the sandy bottoms or swimming near coral reefs.
Nurse Shark (Nebrius ferrugineus). Nurse sharks are nocturnal creatures that spend their days resting on the seafloor or in crevices. They have broad, flat heads and are usually harmless to humans. While sightings of nurse sharks are less common, they can occasionally be encountered in the waters around Krabi.
Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus). Whitetip reef sharks are small, slender sharks with distinctive white-tipped dorsal fins. They are sometimes found resting in caves or under ledges during the day and become more active at night when they hunt for prey.
How To Reduce the Risk of Shark Bite?
To reduce the risk of shark bites, here are three practices that can help.
- Be Aware of Your Location and Time of Day. Sharks are more commonly found in certain areas and during specific times. Avoid swimming or participating in water activities during dawn, dusk, or at night when sharks may be more active. It’s also important to pay attention to any warnings or advisories from local authorities about shark sightings or unsafe conditions.
- Swim in Groups and Stay Visible. Sharks are more likely to target individuals who are isolated or straying from a group. When swimming or engaging in water activities, try to do so with others. Sharks probably won’t strike someone in a large group. Additionally, wearing bright and contrasting colors can help make you more visible in the water, which can potentially deter sharks.
- Don’t Spearfish or Freedive to Catch Fish or Lobster. These activities are high-risk for shark bites and interest.
- Don’t Enter Murky Water! Sharks like this water because it’s easy to hunt. They have sensors that see electrical activity in prey and they strike based on that. They don’t need eyesight to hunt. Avoid swimming near areas where fishing or baiting occurs, as these activities can attract sharks.
Record of Shark Attacks in Thailand?
It is extremely rare to have any shark attack happen in Thailand. This is a testament to how few aggressive shark species are in Thailand waters where tourists swim and enjoy other activities.
The Florida Museum of Natural History keeps a “Shark Attack Database” which shows there have been only 4 unprovoked shark attacks in Thailand since the year 1580. WHOA. That’s quite scarce!
The most recent bite occurred in Phang Nga province at the beach of Nang Thong Beach. A 75-year-old tourist was wading in shallow water and was bitten. He was treated at the hospital and survived. In 2018 there was a non-fatal shark bite reported off the coast of Phuket. In 2017, a non-fatal bite occurred off the island of Ko Tao in Suratthani.
For more information on global sharkbite trends, checkout this published study.
[Images used with permission through creative commons websites.]