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Wild Animals/Sharks danger in italy



My mother always told me that there was no danger in being eaten by a shark, such as a great white, when swimming near Ventimiglia just next to the French/Italian border on the coast. She claimed that all the sharks followed the main shipping lines in order to feed on the garbage dropped from such ships into the water, so that only major ports like Genoa or Trieste were unsafe. Is this true? Or should I have to swim right next to the coast from now on, instead of swimming far out to sea? Thanks, Geoff.

DDear Geoff

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

First of all, sharks, like other animals, tend to go for the easy meal. They have a very good sense of smell and can smell food from great distances. If they can smell food in major ports, they will go for it. As regards swimmers, they will smell spilt blood from a distance and it doesn't matter if people are swimming near Ventimiglia or a major port. says there have been 13 shark attacks, including 3 fatal attacks, off the Italian coast. The last fatal attack was in 1954, so the chance of a fatal attack is very unlikely.
Ian Ferguson ( says there is little chance of being attacked by a shark in the Mediterranean. There are about 46 different species of sharks in the Mediterranean; 16 of these are at least 3 metres long and 15 of these are potentially dangerous. In his website, Ferguson discusses ‘shark attacks’ and says that while sharks do attack people in the Mediterranean, such attacks are rare. says that "there have been 10 sightings of Great Whites in Italy in the last 30 years and one reported attack off the coast of Piombino Tuscany in 1989".

I couldn’t find any details of shark attacks near Ventimiglia. The chances of you being attacked are very small, but please take care of any warnings about shark sightings and do not swim if there are sharks in the water.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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