Sharks in New Jersey

New Jersey has around 15-20 shark species that migrate to its shores seasonally or may be found in the Jersey waters all year round. The makos, dogfish, tiger, and sand tiger sharks are the ones to be spotted quite a few times, if not always. In contrast, the bigger ones, like the basking and whale sharks, are a rare find, making sporadic appearances here.

The 200 00 acres of salt marshes are ideal shark nurseries for the juveniles to stay and grow to a considerable length before venturing into the ocean for a more challenging life. They even seek shelter here from potential predators by taking refuge in the thick marsh grasses and feed on rays, fish, and crustaceans found abundantly in the wetlands.

The smooth dogfish shark’s nursery was traced along the Little Egg Harbor and Great Bay areas. Whereas, the sand tiger shark’s nursery exists along the southern shore of Long Island.

List of the Different Types of Sharks in New Jersey

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Smooth Dogfish 4-5 feet Not aggressive (due to their blunt teeth)
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Sand Tiger Shark 7-10 feet Not aggressive (due to their small mouths)
Blacktip Shark 5-8 feet Moderately aggressive
Thresher Shark 10-18 feet Not aggressive
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Chain Catshark 1.5-2.5 feet Not aggressive (because of their small size)
Dusky Shark 9 -12 feet Not aggressive (until provoked)
Scallopped Hammerhead 9-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Porbeagle 6-12 feet Not aggressive
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive



New Jersey witnessed back-to-back devastating shark attacks in 1916 from the 1st to the 12th of July that took the lives of 4 and left 1 injured. The catastrophe occurred when people in large numbers headed to the resorts along the Jersey Shore to escape the terrible heat wave that year. Scientists suspected the great white and bull sharks to be behind the attacks. This incident was presented as a documentary by several television networks like National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and History Channel. Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 authored by Michael Capuzzo is one of the many books that covered this tragic incident vividly. 


In June 2022, a great white shark, 10-13 feet long, was spotted by anglers from their boat on the Jersey shores. One Jim Piazza, who was accompanied by his son and a few more people, said he almost ran into it as it drew close to his 23-feet boat.


Several dive charters across New Jersey specialize in cage diving, giving tourists the privilege of having a personal experience with the sharks.

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