The Largest Great White Sharks Ever Found Off New Jersey Waters

Friendly Great White shark
© Stefan Pircher/

Written by Cammi Morgan

Published: June 9, 2024

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If you live or spend time along the New Jersey coast, you may wonder about the great white sharks that pass through the area. Who are the largest great white sharks found in New Jersey waters? What are their migratory patterns like?

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the largest great white sharks to be tracked through the coastal waters of New Jersey.

Read on to learn more about these awesome marine animals!

Intro to Great White Sharks

Great white sharks, usually referred to as white sharks by marine scientists, are migratory animals that are distributed worldwide. They live in waters that range between 54-75 degrees Fahrenheit and travel both along coastlines as well as farther out into open ocean regions. The highest concentrations of white sharks are found in the waters near South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the North Atlantic, and the Northeastern Pacific.

These enormous predators can grow upwards of 20 feet in length and weigh over 4,000 pounds. Previously, researchers thought their life span was 20-30 years, but we now know white sharks can live to be at least 70 years old.

These amazing animals have unfortunately suffered from the effects of human-caused pollution and climate change, overfishing, sport hunting, and fear-based misinformation. A study published by an international team of researchers in 2021 found that since 1970, the global population of oceanic sharks and rays has plunged a heart-wrenching and staggering 71%. However, the study also found that due to some targeted conservation policies implemented in the 1990s, white shark and hammerhead populations off the U.S. coasts are starting to rebound.

great white shark

White shark populations have faced a crisis-level global decline since the 1970s. However, conservation efforts have finally resulted in increasing numbers of this vital species in some regions of the world, including the North Atlantic.

©Ramon Carretero/

The Migratory Lives of Great White Sharks

Due to the precarious position of great white sharks and the entire ecology of the oceans, research and conservation of this vital species is more important than ever. As we learn more about the lives of white sharks, we can better protect them. One crucial aspect to understand about the lives of great whites is why, when, and where they migrate. The four main reasons these magnificent marine animals migrate throughout their lives are:

  • Breeding
  • Birthing
  • Seasonal migration to stay in their ideal temperature range
  • Hunting

Their migration routes may depend on their sex and what phase of life they’re in. Juveniles tend to have shorter migration routes in which they travel between nursery grounds. Female great whites may choose routes that meet their birthing requirements.

When Do Great White Sharks Pass Through the Coastal Waters of New Jersey?

White sharks tend to pass through the coastal waters of New Jersey twice per year as they head north for the summer and back south to spend the cold months in the southern end of their range. Late spring and early-mid fall are the most common times of the year when white sharks pass through New Jersey coastal waters. The migratory paths of great whites aren’t set in stone, however, with some seeming to prefer to stay mostly near coastlines, while others head further out into the open ocean as they travel.

In 2016, a team of researchers with OCEARCH, a non-profit organization dedicated to “help scientists collect previously unattainable data in the ocean”, confirmed their theory that white sharks are using the coastal waters off Long Island, New York as a nursery ground. This white shark nursery ground is the first of its kind to be confirmed in the North Atlantic.

Over two weeks, the team found and tagged at least 9 baby white sharks (called pups). They also suspect this area is the birthing grounds. This means that pregnant white sharks may be traveling through the coastal waters of New Jersey to reach this nursery (and likely birthing) grounds.

What Do Great White Sharks Eat?

White sharks usually pass through the coastal waters of New Jersey in the late spring and early-mid fall as they seasonally migrate.


4 of the Largest Great White Sharks Found in New Jersey Waters

Below, we’ll talk about four of the largest great white sharks found cruising through New Jersey waters by OCEARCH researchers. The team attaches a tracking device to the dorsal fin of white sharks that they find. This GPS-enabled device sends a trackable signal whenever the shark nears the surface of the water. With this information, OCEARCH is able to document the migration of these sharks.

Largest Great White Sharks Found in New Jersey Waters: Freya

First tagged as a sub-adult in the coastal waters off Onslow Bay, North Carolina, Freya weighed 883 pounds and measured 11 feet, 8 inches long. Since she was a sub-adult when first tagged on March 25th, 2021, it’s possible this big gal has grown even longer and larger. On July 2nd, 2022, Freya passed a few miles off the coast of Neptune, NJ, traveling north.

Since then, Freya has traveled as far north as the southern coast of Newfoundland and south to the Bahamas. From March 25th, 2021, until her latest trackable ping on January 17th, 2023, Freya has traveled 6,705 miles.

Largest Great White Sharks Found in New Jersey Waters: Caroline

First tagged as a sub-adult on February 26, 2019, off Hilton Head, SC, Caroline weighed in at 1,435 feet long and measured 12 feet, 9 inches long. Caroline has likely grown even larger since her sub-adult measurements. On August 22nd, 2019, this beautiful white shark passed a few miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey as she headed north.

Between her tagging date and last trackable ping on November 2nd, 2023, Carolina had traveled 1,711 miles. Her journeys have taken her as far southwest as the waters of the Mexico Basin off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico, and as far north as the coastal waters of Newfoundland.

Great white shark

When great white sharks with trackers, like Caroline, come near or breach the surface of the water, the tracker sends a ping to researchers.


Largest Great White Sharks Found in New Jersey Waters: Breton

Initially tagged as an adult on September 12th, 2020 off the coast of Scatarie Island, Nova Scotia, Breton weighed in at 1,437 pounds and measured 13 feet, 3 inches long.

On July 16th, 2021, Breton cruised through the coastal waters off Brick, NJ. Then, interestingly, this massive white shark veered southeast as he headed out to the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Breton then traveled hundreds of miles off the coast of North America before heading back north to the coastal waters of Newfoundland, which he reached by August 25th, 2021.

From his tagging date of September 12th, 2020 until his last trackable ping on April 22nd, 2024, Breton had traveled a whopping 35,240 miles.

Largest Great White Sharks Found in New Jersey Waters: Mahone

The largest male white shark tagged by OCEARCH in Canadian waters, researchers tagged Mahone on October 1st, 2020 off the coast of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. He weighed in at 1,701 pounds and measured 13 feet, 7 inches long.

On December 7th, 2021, a ping located Mahone near the coastal waters of Atlantic City, New Jersey as he headed south. Mahone has tended to spend the late fall through early spring months off the coast of the Carolinas and eastern Florida.

From the date of his tagging on October 1st, 2020 until his last trackable ping on June 1, 2024, Mahone had traveled 20,955 miles along the eastern coast of the US and Canada as well as about halfway to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Great White Shark in pond

Some great white sharks that live in the North Atlantic, like Mahone, travel both along coastlines and further out toward the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.


Largest Great White Sharks Found in New Jersey Waters: Mary Lee

To date, one of the largest great white sharks tagged by OCEARCH is Mary Lee, a stunning adult female measuring 16 feet and weighing 2,639 pounds at her tagging. Researchers tagged Mary Lee on September 17th, 2012 off the coast of Cape Cod, MA.

On May 10th, 2015, this stunning white shark traveled less than a mile off the coastline of Seaside Heights, New Jersey. From there, she headed almost directly east into the open ocean before turning north for the coastal waters of Long Island, New York.

From her tagging date on September 17th, 2012 until her last trackable ping on June 17th, 2017, Mary Lee traveled 33,286 miles. While many white sharks tracked by OCEARCH head for the coastal waters off Newfoundland for the summer and early fall, Mary Lee tended to head only as far north as the waters off Massachusetts. From there, she usually either headed directly back south near or along the coastline to Florida and the Carolinas or journeyed out into the open ocean of the Atlantic before making her way to the coastal waters of the southeast US.

Summary Table of the Largest Great White Sharks Ever Found Off New Jersey Waters

1Mary Lee16 feet, 2,639 poundsSeaside Heights
2Mahone13 feet, 7 inches, 1,701 poundsAtlantic City
3Breton13 feet, 3 inches, 1,437 poundsBrick
4Caroline12 feet, 9 inches, 1,435 feet longAtlantic City

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About the Author

Cammi Morgan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on mycology, marine animals, forest and river ecology, and dogs. Cammi has been volunteering in animal rescue for over 10 years, and has been studying mycology and field-researching mushrooms for the past 3 years. A resident of Southeast Appalachia, Cammi loves her off-grid life where she shares 20 acres with her landmates, foster dogs, and all the plants, fungi, and critters of the forest.

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