Sharks are a major fauna type encountered in Stranded Deep. During the course of the game, the player will encounter one of three known varieties of sharks: a tiger shark, great white shark or a blacktip reef shark. Sharks can be found in abundance in any part of the ocean, whether it be in the shallows or in the deeper depths. The type of shark that can be found depends on the location being explored: blacktip reefs can often be found dwelling among the smaller fish in the shallow waters, great whites are often encountered in the deep open ocean, while tiger sharks can be found in both environments, sometimes patrolling the waters around shipwrecks.
Of the three types of sharks in the game, only two are dangerous. It is especially important for newer players to be able to identify which sharks are deadly and which are passive.
Sharks usually attack on sight, but not always. If a shark keeps its distance, it is only curious. However, if it starts to circle inwards and begin sudden movements, then the likelihood of an attack is greatly increased. Shark attacks are rare, and the likelihood of a fatal attack is even rarer. However, a survivor at sea is a much more vulnerable target.
Sharks are attracted to vibrations in the water. Activities that may put the player at risk of being detected include:
- Fishing for long periods at a time
- Splashing and diving
- Leaving waste for bait
Larger sharks, such as the tiger and great white sharks, can prove to be very dangerous to the player if they are not careful. Provoking a larger shark will almost always lead to aggressive behavior. Provided the player has a weapon or a flare that they can equip, they will be able to ward the shark off for a while if ever they decide to attack. Smaller sharks, such as the blacktip reef shark, are passive, and will try to flee if the player attempts to attack them.
A good swimmer can evade shark detection with quick and sudden changes of direction, making it possible to dodge attacks. Sharks can also be attracted to certain types of dead fish, and will consume any bait if offered. This can be used as a tactic to evade a shark or possibly attract more.
The player may come across a shark or two when salvaging items from a shipwreck. Players must exercise caution when in such a situation; though the wreck may prove to be an adequate shelter from the patrolling shark, the player only has a limited amount of time underwater before having to resurface for air.
Sharks will not attack while being observed directly. Behaviors differ depending on the attacking shark: tiger sharks will flank the player and attempt to bite from behind, while great whites will often sideswipe or charge from the depths. If the player is detected by a shark while standing in a raft, the shark will slap the raft around in an attempt to knock them out and into the water. These behaviors mimic the behaviors of real-life sharks. For inexperienced players, it can be very easy for them to become disoriented and lose sight of the attacking shark if trying to face one underwater, due to several factors such as the low visibility of the environment, the speed in which the sharks swim, as well as the sense of fear (either of the shark or of the deep ocean in which it dwells).
If the player gets attacked by a shark, there is a chance of the shark dragging them into the water and farther out to deeper areas of the ocean. The resulting bite wound also has a chance of bleeding uncontrollably. This can only be remedied with the use of a bandage. It is possible to counter the shark's attack by using a sharp tool, such as an axe, against it, which will cause it to let go.
When killed, a shark will be able to provide the player with a substantial amount of food to last them a while: larger sharks, like the tiger and great white sharks, will provide the player with four pieces of raw shark meat from their carcasses; smaller sharks, like the blacktip reef shark, will only provide two. The shark meat must be cooked before consumption in order to avoid contracting sickness. To cook the raw shark meat, the player must first hack at the shark until it yields the meat before dragging the pieces over a lit fire. Alternatively, the meat can be attached to a fire spit to save on having to monitor the cooking process.
- One can fly with the shark's ragdoll model by dragging it underneath them while walking. However, this may have the unfortunate side effect of causing the player to fall and break a limb.
- It was possible to kill any shark while it was not within striking distance by holding down the 'use' button (LMB by default) after the initial strike. This also applied to most sea fauna, excluding small fish. It was also possible, however, to lose the shark's corpse if it went too far out at sea when it died.
- As of v0.03.H2, this method has been patched, and is now ineffective.