If you’re thinking about taking a dip on the New Jersey coast this summer, you just might want to know about the sharks in New Jersey waters. New Jersey lies on the Atlantic coast, and is home to many species of shark. In 1916, New Jersey became home to some of the most infamous shark attacks in history. Today, shark attacks in the state are incredibly rare.
Let’s check out ten sharks in New Jersey waters!
1. Smooth Dogfish
Smooth dogfish pups grow up in many of New Jersey’s shallow estuaries, including Little Egg Harbor and Great Bay. These sharks in New Jersey waters live along the entire Atlantic coast. They grow to a maximum length of five feet, though their average length is closer to three. Smooth dogfish are not dangerous to humans. In fact, they’re often fished and eaten by people.
2. Chain Catshark
Chain catsharks are some of the prettiest sharks in New Jersey waters. These sharks lay tiny eggs—less than the length of a finger—among shallow kelp beds. Adults grow to no more than two feet long, and have light brown bodies with irregular black, chain-like markings. They’re common along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Chain catsharks pose no threat to humans.
3. Sand Tiger Shark
Sand tiger sharks in New Jersey waters have a fearsome appearance, but don’t worry—they’ve never been responsible for a human fatality. They grow up to seven feet long, and tend to stick close to the coast. There have been fewer than 30 recorded bites from sand tiger sharks globally; they’re not a threat to humans. They have just one pup, or less, per year, which makes them especially vulnerable to extinction due to overfishing, pollution, and the shark fin soup industry.
4. Dusky Shark
Currently, dusky sharks in New Jersey waters are considered Vulnerable. Globally, they’re listed as Endangered. This is largely because they’re heavily targeted for the shark fin soup industry. Adult dusky sharks eat fish, other sharks, stingrays, squid, octopus, sea turtles, and even carrion. They grow up to 13 feet long, and take about 20 years to reach maturity.
5. Scalloped Hammerhead
Scalloped hammerheads are some of the most interesting sharks in New Jersey waters. Unfortunately, due to overfishing and the demand for their fins as ingredients in shark fin soup, the population of these gentle fish has declined by more than 95% in recent years. Scalloped hammerheads have hammer shaped heads with scalloped front edges. They grow up to 14 feet long, and do not pose any danger to humans. They eat herring, mackerel, sardines, and other fish.
6. Blue Shark
Blue sharks can be found all over the world. They grow up to 12 feet long for females, with males topping out around nine feet. They eat a wide variety of creatures, including crab, shrimp, lobster, cuttlefish, smaller sharks, and carrion. Blue sharks are generally shy, but may approach people in the water, especially if they’re carrying fish. These sharks are not dangerous to humans, though there have been a few recorded bites, none of which resulted in human fatality.
These sharks live along the northern Atlantic Coast of the United States. They’re one of the most endangered sharks in New Jersey waters. Like great whites and salmon sharks, they’re classified as mackerel sharks, and eat a wide variety of bony fish. Porbeagles grow up to ten feet long, and have large eyes and torpedo shaped bodies. Young porbeagles stick close to shore, living and hunting in shallow waters until they’re big enough to survive the open ocean.
8. Shortfin Mako Shark
Shortfin mako sharks in New Jersey waters are Endangered; their population has fallen significantly in the last ten years. Males grow up to seven feet long, while females may reach up to 13 feet in length. A few of their primary threats are sport fishing, commercial fishing, and death as bycatch (accidental death from entanglement in nets or fishing lines). There have been a total of ten unprovoked attacks on humans attributed to shortfin mako sharks, one of which was fatal.
9. Common Thresher Shark
Common thresher sharks in New Jersey waters are very common. Their population has declined drastically in the last few decades however, and they’re currently in danger of extinction. Thresher sharks have very long tails, which they use to stun schools of fish. They’re generally found in the open ocean, though young threshers stay in shallow nurseries for the first part of their life. Adults can measure over 20 feet long, and even baby threshers measure at least three feet long.
10. Great White Shark
Great white sharks in New Jersey waters tend to stick far from shore. However, large white sharks occasionally come in for a closer look. New York Bight, on the New Jersey shore, is home to a great white shark nursery. These sharks hunt large fish, seals, sea lions, sea turtles, and other sharks. They’ve even been observed feasting on dead whales. Great white sharks grow up to 20 feet long, though most are closer to 16 feet when fully grown.
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