The 6 Biggest Sharks Near New Jersey Beaches

Woman escape shark
© Willyam Bradberry/

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: June 27, 2023

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Summer tourism in New Jersey brings millions of people to its sandy beaches each year, and the Garden State’s residents gladly welcome the “Shoobies.” Well, they tolerate them at least. However, out-of-towners from nearby landlocked states aren’t the only visitors to this state. Sharks migrate throughout the warm summer months, coming close to the beaches on their way up north. Today, we’ll show you the six biggest sharks near New Jersey beaches and which of them you’re most likely to encounter!

Discover the Biggest Sharks Near New Jersey Beaches

Bronze whaler shark swims through a sardine bait ball looking to fee during the sardine run on the east coast of South Africa.

The biggest sharks in New Jersey vary in size and aggression.


Although you may not think about what’s waiting for you in the waters while you’re at the casinos in Atlantic City or living out your “GTL” daydreams in Seaside Heights, the truth is some big sharks lurk in these waters. While some are on the smaller size, some very large ones lurk there, too.

Let’s count down the six biggest sharks near New Jersey beaches and see which ones are the most dangerous!

Infographic of 6 Biggest Sharks Near New Jersey Beaches
The basking shark, the largest species found off the coast of New Jersey, can grow 23-36 feet long.

6. Mako Shark

A diver swimming with a Shortfin mako shark. These sharks are aggressive predators and should be avoided if possible.

One mako shark that was caught off the coast of New Jersey weighed 926 pounds.


10-13 feet130-300 lbs

The mako shark, also known as the shortfin mako shark or the blue pointer, is an endangered species that is sometimes found off the coast of New Jersey. The average shark measures between 10 and 13 feet and weighs up to 300 pounds, but the largest members of this species can grow far larger.

One mako shark that was caught off the coast of New Jersey weighed 926 pounds, the largest of its kind ever in the state’s history. Fortunately, the mako shark is not known for fatal attacks on people. They often turn aggressive. They migrate a lot, so they can be found in waters around the world.

5. Dusky Shark

Dusky shark

Dusky sharks on average measure over 10 feet long.

©ilan elgrably/

10-14 feet350-400 lbs

The dusky shark is not known for attacking human beings, and that’s a good thing because this shark can get rather large. On average, they measure over 10 feet long and can reach 400 pounds with ease. The largest recorded dusky shark measured over 750 pounds.

However, they have been six attacks, but only a single one of them was fatal. Yet, this attack did not occur in New Jersey, so that’s a bit of a silver lining.

Dusky sharks are known for having a wide range along the East Coast of the U.S. and well into South America and other areas around the world.

4. Bull Shark

Bull shark in Caribbean sea.

Bull sharks are responsible for the third-most confirmed shark attacks.

©Carlos Grillo/

8-11 feet200-500 lbs

The average bull shark can measure up to 11 feet long and weighs 290 pounds or so on average. They can get larger, though. The bull shark is rather dangerous to human beings despite not being all that large next to other species.

They are known for having one of the strongest bites of any creature ever measured, and they have been responsible for the third-most recorded shark attacks. This is a fish that you do not want to encounter. They can be aggressive towards humans, and they have a history of attacks.

3. Thresher Shark

The caudal fin of a thresher shark is very long.


16-20 feet900-1,100 lbs

The thresher shark is a unique-looking creature. It is known for having long caudal fins, which is its tail fin. The top of it is much longer than the bottom, and it can reach up to 9 feet in length or more. They use their tail to help them slap prey, stunning them long enough that they can be devoured.  

The common thresher shark, one of the three subspecies, is the largest of them all. They are slow to mature, but they can reach lengths over 20 feet and measure 1,100 pounds when fully grown.

Fortunately, they are not likely to attack people. In fact, the only shark attack on record for these animals came as a result of a human provoking the fish.  

2. Great White Shark

Great White Shark ( Carcharodon carcharias ) breaching in an attack on a <a href=

Great white sharks love feeding on seals.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/

11-26 feet1,500-5,000 lbs

Everyone knows the great white shark. This is a large, deadly, and aggressive shark species that can reach rather big sizes. The great white shark can range between 11 and 26 feet long and weigh upwards of 5,000 pounds or more at its largest.

Great white sharks, along with tiger sharks and bull sharks, are credited with the most unprovoked shark attacks in the world. They are large, powerful predators that are known to go on attacking sprees, such as the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916 that left four dead and one injured in less than two weeks.

Although it’s an uncommon sight, this deadly oceanic predator is sometimes spotted off the New Jersey coast.

One famous great white shark that migrates through the area is known as Ironbound, a 12-foot 4-inch shark that weighs about 1,000 pounds. This shark is tracked by the OCEARCH shark tracker, and it regularly passes by New Jersey on its journey north.

In terms of the biggest sharks near New Jersey beaches that you need to worry about, the great white shark is the scariest.

1. Basking Shark

Biggest Fish: Basking Shark

The size of basking sharks makes them immune to predators.

©Martin Prochazkacz/

23-36 feet8,000-10,260 lbs

Imagine a shark that is 36 feet long and weighs over 10,000 pounds. That sounds terrifying and deadly, right? Well, in this case, the basking shark is probably the least likely of any on this list to hurt a human. The basking shark is a filter feeder, so it sustains itself on plankton and other small food.

Sure, if a basking shark opened its maw, it could probably gulp down a human, but it would never want to. They prefer much smaller and easier to obtain food.

However, the largest basking shark is much heavier than the average we listed above. These biggest members of this species are believed to measure upwards of 30,000 pounds and over 40 feet at their largest. They may be the biggest sharks near New Jersey beaches. Yet, they’re very unlikely to hurt a human being.

Overall, the shore is a pretty safe place to be in the summer. Shark attacks are infrequently and rarely fatal. Still, when the lifeguard blows their whistle to tell you to come closer to the beach, take their word for it. You don’t want to be in the water when dorsal fins appear.

Summary of 6 Biggest Sharks Near New Jersey Beaches

Here’s a recap of the six largest sharks found around the beaches of New Jersey:

1Basking Shark23-36 ft8,000-10,260 lbs
2Great White Shark11-26 ft1,500-5,000 lbs
3Thresher Shark16-20 ft900-1,100 lbs
4Bull Shark8-11 ft200-500 lbs
5Dusky Shark10-14 ft350-400 lbs
6Mako Shark10-13 ft130-300 lbs

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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