New Jersey Beaches with the Most Shark Attacks

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: November 3, 2022
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New Jersey is one of the smallest states among the 50 in America, spanning a landmass of 7,354 square miles (19,050 square kilometers). Bounded on the east, south, and southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, the Garden State is frequently visited for its beautiful beaches and ocean view.

While New Jersey’s coastlines are not known for frequent shark attacks like Florida’s, the state is still marked by the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916. This article will explore New Jersey shark attacks and the locations with the most shark attacks on record.

New Jersey Darkest Day on the Beach: Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916

Great White Shark stalks diver
The shark attack off the Jersey Shore in 1916 lasted twelve days.

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When talking about shark attacks in New Jersey, the most notable was the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916. The incidents occurred during an unusual heat wave and in the midst of the polio epidemic – two events that drove weary people to the sea shores for relief. Between July 1 and 12, 1916, four people were killed by sharks along the Jersey shore.

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According to the Washington Post, the first shark attack of the five that occurred over twelve days was on Beach Haven on Long Beach Island. The second, which came five days later, happened at Spring Lake, New Jersey. Matawan Creek had the next three major attacks, including the only non-fatal shark attack.

Fear and panic led to a massive shark hunt to rid the waters of these “man-eating sharks” to protect the local economy (think of the movie, “Jaws”). The Jersey Shore shark attacks are most likely responsible for sharks being portrayed as monsters in all forms of media – making the shark a symbol of danger in the culture. There has not been as much hysteria about swimming on the shores of New Jersey since that year.

Does New Jersey Have Shark-infested Waters?

New Jersey does not have shark-infested waters. Since 1884, there have only been 50 shark attacks, with 25 provoked and 25 unprovoked. However, in recent years, there have been more shark sightings along the coast of New Jersey and New York. This year, there have been about 10 reported shark sightings in both states.

However, New Jersey shark attacks do not predominantly happen on beaches. In fact, most locations on the list have only ever seen 1 shark attack. Here are the top 4 locations with the most reoccurring incidents.

Where are the Locations with the Most New Jersey Shark Attacks?

The New Jersey locations with the most shark attacks are Atlantic City, Sea Bright, Ocean City, and Matawan Creek. Here are the details of the shark attacks in these locations since 1884.

Atlantic City, Atlantic County

Atlantic city
Atlantic City has had 5 shark attacks since 1884.

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According to the New York Post, one of the most recent sightings of sharks off the Atlantic City was a 10-foot-long great white shark in 2020. There have been 5 recorded shark attacks in Atlantic City. Of all 5 attacks, only one, which took place on July 6, 1902, was provoked. Luckily, of all 5 incidents, none was fatal. The last shark attack in this location was in Steel Pier, Atlantic City, on August 26, 1965.

Sea Bright, Monmouth County

Sea Bright beach
Sea Bright has had 5 shark attacks since 1884.

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Sea Bright ties with Atlantic City with 5 recorded attacks. The first took place on September 21, 1917, but was not fatal. Since then, there have been 4 more attacks, with the most recent being on August 7 this year, 2022.

Ocean City, Cape May County

Ocean City New Jersey
Ocean City has had 5 shark attacks since 1884.

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Ocean City in Cape May County has also had 5 shark attacks since 1884. Out of the 5 incidents, 3 occurred due to provocation. Luckily, despite this, none of the attacks was fatal.

Matawan Creek, Monmouth County

Matawan Creek
Matawan Creek has had 3 shark attacks since 1884.

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There have been 3 attacks in Matawan Creek by sharks. They all took place on the same day, July 12 in 1916 (Jersey Shore Shark Attacks). All three victims were swimming when they were attacked by a shark. The victims were three males aged 10, 12, and 24. The 12-year-old survived but had to have his left leg surgically amputated. The other two did not survive the attack.

What New Jersey County Has Had The Most Shark Attacks?

Monmouth County, NJ
Monmouth County has had 21 shark attacks since 1884.

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Of all the 50 bite incidents, 21 occurred in Monmouth County, 9 in Atlantic County, and 8 in Ocean County. Some sharks that can be sighted off Ocean County’s coastlines are the sand tiger shark and the great white shark. The latest sighting of a sand tiger shark on Seaside shore was in August 2022. Most New Jersey shark attacks occurred when the victims were swimming.

How Dangerous is a Shark Bite?

Tiger Shark
Shark bites can result in huge tissue loss, injury to blood vessels and nerves, and death.

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Despite being extremely rare, shark bites are quite dangerous and painful for those who survive. According to a CNN account, a shark bite survivor compared his bite experience to having a ‘jellyfish sting that keeps penetrating deep into the bone.’ Other survivors have shared similar pains and trauma of the events.

Shark bites can often differ between crescent-shaped bites and the parallel bites of a shark raking its teeth against one’s skin. These bites are dangerous because they could result in huge tissue loss, injury to blood vessels and nerves, and death.

It is widely advised to seek the help of a doctor once you get bitten by a shark. Even if the bite is not deep, you might still need a doctor to ensure you are 100% in the clear of other injuries or complications. 

When Are Sharks Most Active in New Jersey Waters?

Though New Jersey experiences snowing between November and April, the beaches do not suffer as much as the interior parts of the state. Sharks can be found off the Jersey Shore seasonally and year-round. However, most New Jersey shark attacks occur in August. There have been 20 shark attacks in the month of August since 1884. However, no bites occurred in February, March, April, and May.

How Often Do People Get Bitten By Sharks?

Great white shark
Annual shark attack statistics show that the odds of dying from a shark attack are as low as 1-in-3.75 million.

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According to ISAF, there have been about 25 unprovoked attacks off the shores of New Jersey since the 1800s. This is extremely low, given the state’s population of 9.3 million and the considerably higher count of 896 recorded shark attacks in the State of Florida. The odds of getting bitten by a shark off the Jersey Shore is less than one a year. In 2021, there were no recorded New Jersey shark attacks.

In addition, annual shark attack statistics show that the odds of dying from a shark attack are as low as 1-in-3.75 million.


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