Sharks in New York

The marine waters of New York are home to over ten species of sharks, some as small as 4 feet and a few large ones, like the basking shark growing to a maximum of 30 feet. Though sharks have always called the New York waters their home, the sightings have increased over recent years. The factors contributing to the spike include improvement in the quality of water and an increase in the population of the bunker fish because of the several conservation efforts taken.

Of the several places, sightings are on the rise in New York’s Long Island, mainly during summer. Since June 2022, there have been records of around 5 verified encounters where sharks bit surfers and swimmers. Fortunately, the bites weren’t fatal. As a precautionary measure, authorities temporarily closed Smith Point Beach and Rockaway Beach.

When talking about the number of shark attacks in the state, the International Shark Attack File estimates show there were just 12 of them from 1860-2021. The number increased in 2022 after the five probable bites from 30th June – 20th July.

Sharks in New York

List of the Different Types of Sharks in New York

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Basking Shark 23-30 feet Not aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Common Thresher Shark 12-18 feet Not aggressive
Dusky Shark 9 -12 feet Not aggressive (until provoked)
Sand Tiger Shark 7-10 feet Not aggressive (due to their small mouths)
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but potentially dangerous)
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Smooth Dogfish 4-5 feet Not aggressive (due to their blunt teeth)
Spiny Dogfish 2.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive (due to their small size)



Bull sharks weren’t common in New York before. However, at present, it has been sighted quite a few times. In 2020, James Gabriel, a local fisherman, came across a shark swimming across the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse area on the Hudson River. Many hinted at the possibility of the species being a bull shark, one of the few sharks capable of living in freshwater for a long time.


The building in Coney Island covers an area of 57,500 square feet and is known as Donald Zucker and Barbara Hrbek Zucker Ocean Wonders: Sharks! The place offers a magnificent display of around 18 shark species. It even educates visitors about the importance of sharks in the marine world and the threats they face in their habitat. 

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