New Jersey Beaches With the Most Shark Attacks

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: September 19, 2023
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Key Points:
  • The most notable shark attacks in New Jersey’s history were the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916, where four people were killed in five attacks in 12 days.
  • Since 1884, there have been 50 shark attacks, with 25 provoked and 25 unprovoked.
  • The New Jersey locations with the most shark attacks are Atlantic City, Sea Bright, Ocean City, and Matawan Creek.

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 12 days.

©Martin Prochazkacz/

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.

According to the Washington Post, the first shark attack of the five that occurred over 12 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. In 2022 there were 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 one shark attack.

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 five shark attacks since 1884.


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 five recorded shark attacks in Atlantic City. Of all five attacks, only one, which took place on July 6, 1902, was provoked. Luckily, of all five 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 five shark attacks since 1884.

©Dancentury / CC BY-SA 2.5 – License

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

Ocean City, Cape May County

Ocean City New Jersey

Ocean City has had five shark attacks since 1884.

© melfi

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

Matawan Creek, Monmouth County

Matawan Creek

Matawan Creek has had three shark attacks since 1884.

©Mr. Matté / CC BY 4.0 – License

There have been three 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.


Of all the 50 bite incidents, 21 occurred in Monmouth County, nine in Atlantic County, and eight 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.

©Michael Rothschild/

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 one in 3.75 million.


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 one in 3.75 million.

Is It Safe to Swim on the New Jersey Coast?

Drone top view of snorkel diver with big shark

You can still swim in New Jersey. Just follow the safety precautions to avoid sharks.

©Luciano Santandreu/

Swimming in shark-prone areas can be a frightening experience, but with the right safety precautions, it can be done safely. Here are some tips to ensure a safe swimming experience:

  1. Avoid swimming near areas where fishing is taking place. Fishermen often leave bait in the water, which can attract sharks.
  2. Avoid areas with high sea grass, as they provide a great hiding place for sharks.
  3. Avoid swimming at dawn or dusk, as this is when sharks are more active.
  4. Wear brightly colored swimwear, as this will help to make you more visible to sharks and less likely to startle them.
  5. Avoid swimming alone, as there is strength in numbers.
  6. If you spot a shark, do not attempt to swim away. Instead, remain calm and swim slowly towards the shore.
  7. If a shark is spotted in the area, leave the water immediately and alert the lifeguards.
  8. Listen to advice from local lifeguards and obey any warnings about swimming in shark-prone areas.

By following these safety tips, you can help to ensure that your swimming experience is safe and enjoyable in shark-prone areas.

What Types of Sharks Are in New Jersey Waters?

Dusky shark

Dusky sharks would rather eat the plentiful fish off of the New Jersey shore.

©Rich Carey/

Sharks are a common sight in the waters off of New Jersey. The sand tiger shark is particularly common in New Jersey waters, as they are an apex predator that is drawn to the area’s ample food sources. The mako shark is also present in the area, as they tend to stay close to shore, and they are often seen by surfers and beachgoers. Thresher sharks tend to swim in deeper waters, and they are well-known for their long, whip-like tails. Lastly, the dusky shark is a species that is often seen in the area, and they are one of the most dangerous species of shark in the world. All in all, these creatures are an important part of the local ecosystem, and they should be respected accordingly.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ramon Carretero/

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