8 Sharks in New York Waters

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: November 7, 2023
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When we think of New York, we generally think of towering skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, and maybe even Buffalo wings. What people don’t normally think about, however, are sharks! New York is a large state situated on the east coast of the United States, and if you are near an ocean, you have sharks. Today, we will take a look at the 8 Sharks in New York waters and discover if any of them are dangerous. Let’s find out!

The waters off the East Coast are home to more than 50 shark species.

What Ocean is New York Near?

The ocean that a state is located on is one of the most important factors in determining the types of sharks that live in the area. New York is on the east coast of the United States, although most of the state is landlocked. The portion of land touching the ocean, however, is small. That region is mostly restricted to New York City and Long Island. Both New York City and Long Island are on the Atlantic Ocean. Moreso, they are located in the region known as the North Atlantic.

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean in the world and has a staggering number of creatures. Let’s explore some of the most common sharks you are likely to find around New York City and Long Island.

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Basking shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Basking sharks have the smallest weight-to-brain weight ratio of any shark.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Basking sharks are interesting sharks in that they are actually filter feeders. These large fish are among the largest sharks in the world but are totally harmless to humans. They feed near the surface of the water and primarily eat small crustaceans, krill, and tiny zooplankton.

Basking sharks can be recognized from their massive gaping mouth and brown-grey skin. They can grow to 40 feet long.

Blue shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Though not aggressive, blue sharks are sometimes referred to as the “wolves of the sea,” perhaps because they travel at such high speeds.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Blue sharks are beautiful sharks that get their name from the blue color they have across their back. They are occasionally caught by anglers and reach up to 12.5 feet long at their largest. Although there are a few documented attacks, these sharks are more curious and attracted to food than anything.

Blue sharks have a blue sheen on their backs, are extremely long and slender, and have pointed heads and long tails.

Dusky shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Dusky sharks are large and have an orange color to their skin.

©Rich Carey/Shutterstock.com

Dusky sharks are larger sharks that can be seen in coastal and offshore regions. They are known to grow up to 14 feet long, and they get their name from the dusky orange color of their skin. Since these sharks are large, they can be a threat to humans.

Dusky sharks can be identified by their stout bodies and orange color.

Great white shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Great white sharks are the largest predatory sharks in the world.

©Jayaprasanna T.L/Shutterstock.com

Great white sharks are probably the most famous of any shark on our list. They are also known as white sharks or great whites, and they are generally considered to be the largest predatory sharks in the world. Great whites can be found along the coast and offshore, and the coast of Long Island is often used as a nursery habitat during the warm months. Of any shark in the world, great whites have the most recorded attacks and fatalities.

Great white sharks can grow over 18 feet long, and they have a dark gray back with a light-colored belly.

Mako shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Mako sharks are the fastest species of shark in the world.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

The mako shark is known as the fastest shark in the world. They are rarely seen in coastal regions and instead prefer offshore habitats. Their speed allows them to hunt tuna, swordfish, and squid. Mako sharks can grow up to 13 feet long, making them formidable predators. Since they aren’t normally around humans, attacks are rare.

Thresher shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Thresher sharks have extremely long tail fins.

©Shane Gross/Shutterstock.com

Thresher sharks get their name from their massive tail that is used to swim incredibly fast, but there are also reports of them stunning fish with it. These sharks can grow pretty long, although much of their length can be attributed to their tails. They are generally wary of humans and aren’t considered to be dangerous.

The best way to identify thresher sharks is from their massive tail fin. They can grow up to 25 feet long, including the tail.

Sand tiger shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters



sharks have protruding teeth that give a fearsome appearance.

©Valeri Potapova/Shutterstock.com

Sand tiger sharks are incredibly scary-looking sharks, although they are generally a docile species with no recorded deaths resulting from an attack. They eat larger fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans and can grow up to 10.5 feet long.

Sand tiger sharks have jagged teeth that can be seen protruding from their mouths.

Sandbar shark

8 Sharks in New York Waters

Sandbar sharks are commonly seen since humans often swim where they are most common.

©Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock.com

Sandbar sharks, otherwise known as brown sharks, can be found in coastal and offshore regions. They generally prey on bottom-dwelling fish like flounder, dogfish, and blue crab. These sharks can reach 8 feet in length, and they rarely attack humans. Still, they are often seen due to their prevalence in coastal regions where humans often hang out.

Sandbar sharks have a prominent dorsal fin and a brownish color that helps them blend in with sand.

Are There Shark Attacks in New York?

Although there are many species of shark in the waters around New York, actual attacks are rare. In fact, fatal attacks in New York are so rare that there have only been 12 documented examples of shark attacks in the state, with only 6 of them being fatal. Incredibly, the last fatal shark attack in the area was in 1926, nearly 100 years ago.

Summary of 8 Sharks in New York Waters

1Basking shark
2Blue shark
3Dusky shark
4Great white shark
5Mako shark
6Thresher shark
7Sand tiger shark
8Sandbar shark
Summary Table of 8 Sharks in New York Waters

The photo featured at the top of this post is © wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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