Sharks are marine animals that can be found in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, though in these games they are completely non-interactive. This changed drastically in Grand Theft Auto V, where they can interact with and even kill the player.
GTA Vice City
Sharks appear in the ocean waters of Vice City. Like all marine animals in the game, these sharks are simply non-solid objects floating in the water and do not interact with any characters, vehicles, or other animals. Sharks spawn randomly in ocean water around the city; there are no preferred locations of spawning. They are completely non-interactive, and hence do not kill or even pose a threat to the player, and cannot be killed. The official manual of Vice City specifically describes shark attacks but shark attacks do not occur in the game at all. Like all other marina animals they are programmed to just drift straight forward through the water.
Shark attacks off Vice City happen a few times a year and there are more sharks out there than you would like to think - best advice: stay out of the water!
GTA San Andreas
Sharks reappeared in GTA San Andreas, their game mechanics seemingly unaltered from the previous game. They spawn randomly in the waters around the city and are again non-solid objects that cannot interact with the player. They can not harm the player and can not be shot at or killed by any other means.
- You may be looking for Hammerhead Sharks.
Sharks reappear in Grand Theft Auto V but, unlike GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas, they will attack and kill the player. They spawn at random in the depths of the Pacific Ocean surrounding San Andreas but are more common at night. Sharks usually appear on their own but groups of two or three have been seen. They attack once and will kill the protagonist by ripping them apart. If the player goes to the edge of the map a shark will appear to force the player to go back towards land. Sharks can attack on sight or circle the player gradually getting closer before attacking. While above water, the sharks fin may be seen as it circles the boat/watercraft. A red dot will appear on the radar when sharks are nearby. The achievement/trophy "Out of Your Depth" is unlocked after being killed by a shark.
Abigail Mathers, the widow of ocean explorer Frank Mathers, names them as "San Andreas White Sharks", a fictional subspecies of the great white shark. They are, however, based on Tiger sharks. They are endangered, hence why they seldom appear in-game. Sharks can be killed with one bullet from above land and by repeated knife attacks underwater as well as driving a boat or the Submersible into them. The player can also lose the shark by driving their boat/watercraft away from the area or by continuing to dive into the depths of the ocean to find sunken ships or planes to hide in. Note, unless wearing a scuba diving outfit the players health will be depleted due to a lack of oxygen.
A shark in GTA Vice City.
A shark in GTA San Andreas.
A shark in pre-release screenshot of GTA V.
A shark in the final version of GTA V.
- Page 10 of the Tourist Guide, GTA Vice City's game manual