- This page is about the marine animal. If you are looking for the car in GTA 2 and the cut one from GTA III, see Shark. If you're looking for the gang in Vice City, see Sharks.
Up until GTA V, they were often associated with myths, given that their appearance is rare in Vice City and San Andreas. While harmless in both aforementioned games, sharks are, on the other hand, deadly in GTA V, which is currently their most infamous and major appearance.
GTA Vice City
Sharks are modelled after Tiger Sharks in GTA Vice City. Even though not as common as most sea creatures, they can be spotted everywhere in the waters of the city and, due to the slightly similar body, they can sometimes be mistaken as dolphins. Sharks do not take damage when shot at, and like other marine animals in Vice City, don't have any movement animation when swimming. The easiest way to spot a shark is to just search the water for it, preferably through a Sniper Rifle.
Sharks are also mentioned in the 10th page of the GTA Vice City manual: "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!". This might suggest that sharks could have been used as an excuse for the player's inability to swim in Vice City.
GTA San Andreas
The presence of sharks GTA San Andreas is often debated, but most players reported sighting them mostly in the Easter Basin area. Even if the appearance of sharks in the waters of San Andreas isn't fully confirmed, their model is in fact present in the game files, being the same as the one in Vice City. Given the somewhat murky waters in some areas of San Andreas, in particular San Fierro, the species in the game is most likely the Bull Shark, which is similar in appearance to the Tiger Shark.
There is a frequent myth which claims sharks attack players, yet those who report seeing sharks deny so, claiming that they act like normal fish and swim away when approached - Yet, nevertheless, multiple "killer shark" mods have been made, and are pretty common in San Andreas Multiplayer servers.
Grand Theft Auto V
Sharks appear in varying depths of ocean around San Andreas and, unlike their 3D Universe version, are fast and dangerous predators that often attack the player on sight. In the regular PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, the only present sharks are modeled after the Tiger Shark (albeit beefier). You can tell by the strips on it's back and the shape of the head. In the upcoming PC, PS4 and Xbox One version of the game, there are also sharks modeled after the Hammerhead Shark.
According to Abigail Mathers in the "Death at Sea" stranger mission, the sharks in San Andreas are bordering on extinction, explaining how they seldom appear in-game. Getting killed by a shark unlocks the "Out of Your Depth" Achievement/Trophy.
Spawning more frequently at night, sharks appear on the minimap as a red dot (enemy) and will stalk and circle the player for a while before attacking. Sometimes, they will appear in pairs. If the player reaches the end of the map (where planes and boats will no longer function), a shark is scripted to appear to keep the player from venturing any further. Sharks attack once, killing on the first attack, by tearing the protagonist apart with their teeth. If the player is on the surface they can sometimes see the shark's fin sticking out the water as it circles.
Sharks can be killed if the player is on a boat and shoots one, which only takes one shot. It is, therefore, recommended to look out for sharks and kill them from the surface before diving into the water. They can also be killed in the water by repeatedly attacking with a knife (although this is extremely difficult), or running into them in a boat or Submersible. If the player is in the water and is too deep down/far out to return to their boat or the shore in the event of a shark encounter, swimming into sunken plane and ship ruins will often cause the shark to go away.
Like other animals in the game, sharks are only present in singleplayer. According to leaked sound files, they might also be added to GTA Online in the future.