American Oceans

8 Types of Sharks in New Jersey

a shoal of sharks underwater

New Jersey is a state located on the East Coast of the United States, known for its beautiful beaches and bustling shore towns. However, beneath the surface of the ocean lies a diverse ecosystem, including a variety of shark species. While shark sightings can be rare, it is important for beachgoers to be aware of these creatures and take appropriate precautions while enjoying the water.

Despite the rarity of shark attacks in New Jersey, there have been a few notable incidents over the years. In 1916, a series of shark attacks along the Jersey Shore resulted in four deaths and one injury. Since then, shark attacks in the state have been incredibly rare, but beachgoers should still exercise caution while in the water. It is important to be aware of the types of sharks that may be in the area and to follow safety guidelines to prevent any potential incidents.

8. Great White Sharks

a massive great white shark underwater

Great white sharks, also known as whites, are one of the most well-known shark species in the world. They are often portrayed as fierce predators in movies and documentaries. While they are not commonly found in New Jersey waters, they have been spotted off the coast of the state. Great whites are known for their size, speed, and sharp teeth.

7. Tiger Sharks

a large tiger shark swimming underwater

Tiger sharks are another species that can be found in New Jersey waters. They are known for their distinctive stripes and can grow up to 18 feet in length. Tiger sharks are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything they come across, including fish, turtles, and even garbage.

6. Sand Tiger Sharks

a sand tiger shark swimming underwater

The sandbar shark and sand tiger shark are two of the most commonly found shark species in New Jersey. Sandbar sharks are known for their triangular dorsal fin and can grow up to 8 feet in length. Sand tiger sharks, also known as gray nurse sharks, are easily recognizable due to their jagged teeth that protrude from their mouths even when closed. They are typically found in shallow waters and can grow up to 10 feet in length.

5. Mako Sharks

a mako shark in the ocean

Mako sharks are another species that can be found in New Jersey waters. They are known for their speed and agility, making them a popular game fish for anglers. The shortfin mako shark is the more commonly found species in New Jersey, and they can grow up to 13 feet in length.

4. Thresher Shark

thresher shark tail

The thresher shark is a commonly encountered shark species in the waters around New Jersey. As explained on the NOAA Fisheries website, most of the catch of common thresher sharks comes from New Jersey and North Carolina waters. These sharks are known for their long, scythe-like tails that can reach up to half the length of their bodies.

3. Bull Shark

a massive bull shark swimming along the seafloor

The bull shark is one of the most notable shark species in New Jersey waters due to its involvement in one of the most famous shark attack incidents – the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. The attacks occurred in the brackish waters of Matawan Creek, which suggested that a bull shark, known to inhabit both salt and fresh water, was the culprit according to the Wikipedia entry for the event.

2. Blue shark

blue shark slender elongated body side view length

The blue shark is one of the most commonly sighted shark species in the waters around New Jersey. They are often referred to as “common blue sharks” because they are found worldwide in temperate and tropical oceans. Save Coastal Wildlife notes that blue sharks can be found along the Jersey Shore both year-round and seasonally. As explains, blue sharks have an average length of 6.5-9.5 feet but can grow larger. They are considered highly aggressive predators, feeding on fish and squid.

1. Basking Shark

do basking sharks have teeth

The basking shark is one of the largest shark species that can be found in the waters around New Jersey. Basking sharks can grow up to 36 feet long, making them the second largest fish in the world after the whale shark. Though they feed primarily on plankton and small fish, their massive open mouths and filter feeding capabilities allow them to consume up to 4,000 pounds of zooplankton daily. They are commonly sighted off the coast of New Jersey from late spring through early fall, often swimming slowly at the surface with their huge mouths agape

Sharks Attacks in New Jersey

a great white shark in the dominican republic

New Jersey has had a significant number of shark interactions, with 50 recorded incidents, according to the Shark Research Institute [1]. These interactions are broken down into 25 unprovoked interactions, 13 provoked, 7 boating, and 5 invalid interactions [1]. The majority of these incidents were the result of human actions that triggered natural responses from various shark species [4].

Sharks are common in New Jersey waters, and they are often caught by fishermen who target them for sport or commercial purposes. The most commonly caught species are sandbar sharks, smooth dogfish, and spiny dogfish [1]. However, there have been instances where sharks have bitten people who were swimming or surfing in the ocean.

Although shark bites are rare, they do occur. According to the Global Shark Attack File (GSAF), there have been 16 confirmed shark attacks in New Jersey waters since 1900 [2]. Most of these attacks were minor, and only one was fatal. The chances of being bitten by a shark in New Jersey are very low, with a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten [4].

Shark sightings have increased in recent years, with Great White Sharks being spotted off the coast of New Jersey 24 times [2]. These sightings have caused concern among beachgoers and surfers who fear for their safety. However, marine biologists have stated that these sightings are not necessarily indicative of an increase in shark populations, but rather an increase in human activity in the ocean [3].


  1. Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center
  2. Animal Queries
  3. ABC News
  4. The Journal NJ

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