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I am planning to visit Sierra Leone. I have seen some pictures and the beaches are awesome. They have beautiful and appealing islands for diving and snorkeling.

Is there a serious threat of shark attacks in those waters? Are there any documented cases of such attacks? Is it advisable to dive/snorkel in that region of the world?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The beaches of Sierra Leone are perhaps the most beautiful beaches in the world. In case you were around in the 1980s and remember the Bounty (chocolate bar) commercials, featuring a gorgeous woman on an even more gorgeous beach, these commercials were shot in Sierra Leone.

I don't think diving or snorkelling is a big thing in Sierra Leone, but it's certainly possible, though you'll have a hard time finding a local outfit to accommodate you.

I lived in Sierra Leone from 2010 - 2012. Shark attacks were never considered an issue. To the extent that I don't remember once anyone ever mentioning sharks while I lived in Sierra Leone. I lived on the coast and regularly went to the beaches.

More serious danger, though, comes from the treatorous currents at some of the beaches. Several foreigners drowned at several occasions while I lived in Sierra Leone.

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Thanks a lot for the information. I have lived in SL for a long time actually and you are right I have never heard about shark attacks. But maybe as @drat pointed out it could be due to the fact that many incidents go unreported! Some of the people there believe in witches and spirits and attribute most things to them instead... I guess this is the commercial you mean – hat Apr 10 '14 at 15:07
Awesome find. I suppose that must have been the commercial, yeah (though I only recognized the ending, with the beach :). You're right about folklore and beliefs, but, still, I doubt that's the case in relation to shark attacks. If there were a reasonable threat of sharks, somehow, the expat community would have picked up on it, I think. Or at least the Lebanese community would have been aware of it. – MastaBaba Apr 11 '14 at 3:22
Incidents of shark attacks are usually hyped up to a point that doesn't relate to the real danger. They also make for a good story. I think it's pretty unlikely that a shark attack will go unreported. Please be aware that unprovoked shark attacks happen very (!) rarely (less than 3,000 cases since 1580 – Stockfisch Apr 11 '14 at 20:17

Speaking from the available data only and not from first-hand experience, it seems that Sierra Leone is pretty safe when it comes to shark attacks. Sources often cite only a few attacks ever recorded (For instance here or here) mostly lying more than 100 years back.

There seems to have been one incident in 2006, killing 4 fishermen. I am not sure if that was an unprovoked attack.

Also I am not sure if the small amount of attacks is due to the fact that cases don't get reported or that there really aren't any.

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I am a little disturb about people's fear of shark attacks. Your odds of being harassed by a shark is something like 1 in 3,748,067 (+/- 0.0000267%) and to be killed by a shark is roughly 1 in 89,953,608 (+/- 0.00000111%)

In period from 1580 to 2014 the Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks is 2,777 world wide.

Also see what other risks you should worry about:

In 2014 there were 118 shark incidents reported of which 10 were fatalities. After investigation it was found only 72 incidents were actually unprovoked shark incidents of which 3 were fatalities.

And then in case you can not click on links: According to this in the period 1828-2014 Sierra Leone had 1 shark incident

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this information is about shark attacks in general and not specific to Sierra Leone at all. As such it would probably be better as a comment on the question, not an answer. – Kate Gregory Feb 17 '15 at 14:35
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. – neubert Feb 17 '15 at 14:52
@neubert actually it does. If you read the odds of being attacked by a shark anywhere in the world it means those are worst odds even in Sierra Leone and if you followed the links you would see that Sierra Leone has very few shark attacks. – AquaAlex Feb 19 '15 at 8:49

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