Sharks in Massachusetts

Of the several shark species traced along the shores of Massachusetts, the basking shark is the most common. Since 2004, around 57 of them have been tagged using the PSAT or Pop-up satellite archival tag.

The great white shark also has a decent population here, with 120 tagged along Cape Cod’s east coast since 2009. They have a seasonal migration pattern prominently seen in the Cape Cod area during August. In 2021 more than 63,000 great whites were detected here in the month of August 33, 775 in September, and 31,023 in October. In 2022, the first great white of the season was tagged along the Chatham coast as per the reports provided by the Atlantic White Conservancy or AWC.

According to the records provided by the International Shark Attack File Massachusetts, there have been 17 shark attacks in the state, with the first one occurring on the Sandwich coast. Of the two noted fatal attacks, one was in 1936 and the other in 2018.

Sharks in Massachusetts

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Massachusetts

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness             
Basking Shark 23-30 feet Not aggressive
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Shortfin Mako 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Porbeagle 6-12 feet Not aggressive
Sand Tiger Shark 7-10 feet Not aggressive (due to their small mouths)
Common Thresher Shark 12-18 feet Not aggressive
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Smooth Dogfish 4-5 feet Not aggressive (due to their blunt teeth)
Tiger Shark 10-14 feet Highly aggressive
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but potentially dangerous)
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
Devil Rays 6-9 feet Not aggressive

Interesting Facts

  • The video of a giant shark filmed from a tall ship Corwith Cramer, on the Massachusetts coast created hype on social media. The mighty stature of the shark compelled people to believe that the prehistoric megalodon was back. The shark in question was the harmless basking shark, which can grow to a maximum length of 40 feet.
  • In a rare incident in 2004, a great white shark weighing 1700 pounds and measuring around 14 feet was trapped for many days in a saltwater pond close to Woods Hole. The officials finally rescued the shark and sent it back to the ocean- its natural habitat.



Bull sharks aren’t that common in Massachusetts. Yet, a negligible population comes to the north shores during summer when the water gets warm.


Yes, along the Cape Cod area, there are options to go cage diving with sharks. Each tour accommodates up to six people, and one doesn’t require to be a certified diver to take the trip.

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