Species Sighted in NY/NJ and Factors That Increase the Risk of Being Bitten – NBC New York (47)

The concept of the great white shark as a killing machine for unsuspecting beachgoers became established in mainstream culture with movies like 1975’s Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley.

However, the scientific consensus is that sharks are intelligent hunters, and on the rare occasions that a great white shark attacks a human, the bite may be the result of mistaken identity, according to one research published last year.

The study by Australian scientists at Macquarie University suggests the predator may not be able to visually distinguish surfers and swimmers on the surface of the water from its natural prey, such as seals and schools of fish.

The research supported the theory that great whites do not actively seek out humans as prey. Great white sharks are thought to be more successful at hunting prey at the surface of the water. Sharks are also believed to be colorblind or have a limited ability to perceive colors at best.

As part of the study, the researchers estimated the visual acuity of white sharks based on the structure of their retinas. They specifically targeted juvenile great whites, which are responsible for a large proportion of attacks on humans.

Juveniles may have poorer eyesight than adult sharks, as well as greater overlap in habitat with humans.

More and more people understand that sharks are a valuable part of the ocean environment and must be protected. Fishery management plans have been developed in many areas, but similar action is needed in many other regions. Certain species, such as the great white shark, sand tiger, whale, and basking shark, have received special government protection in some countries.

A better understanding of why sharks bite humans would help develop strategies to mitigate unfortunate encounters.


Now that sharks are known to lack visual acuity, beachgoers can decrease the small chance of being bitten by a shark. The florida museum makes the following recommendations:

1. Always swim in a group. Sharks often bite solitary individuals.

2. Do not go too far from the coast.

3. Avoid water at night, at dawn or dusk. Many sharks are most active during these periods.

4. Do not enter the water if it bleeds. Sharks can smell and taste blood, and trace it back to its source.

5. Do not wear shiny jewelry. The reflected light looks like fish scales.

6. Do not enter water containing sewage. The sewage attracts bait fish, which in turn attract sharks.

7. Avoid fishing waters and those with many baitfish. Diving seabirds are good indicators of such activities.

8. Do not enter the water if sharks are present.

9. Avoid an uneven tan and bright colored clothing. Sharks see contrast particularly well, so be very careful when the waters are murky.

10. Don’t splash too much. Also, keep pets out of the water. Erratic movements can attract sharks.

11. Be careful near sandbanks or steep cliffs. These are the favorite places of sharks.

12. Do not try to touch a shark if you see one!

13. If you’re bitten by a shark, the rule of thumb is “Do whatever it takes to escape!” Some people have successfully chosen to be aggressive, others passive. Some screamed underwater, others made bubbles.


Shark attacks on humans are extremely rare in the waters off Fire Island, east of New York City, or anywhere else in New York State. In fact, there are only 10 documented cases of shark bites in humans on New York beaches. The last one occurred in 1948.

In the summer of 2018, two possible shark attacks were reported off the coast of Fire Island, both by tiger sharks.


Shark attacks are equally rare there, according to recent statistics, but there was a time when sharks had more frequent encounters with beachgoers. The 1916 Jersey Shore Shark Attacks took place between July 1 and 12, 1916, leaving four dead and one injured. It is unclear which species of shark was responsible for the chaos, but it is believed that it may have been a great white shark and a bull shark.

The United States has an average of 16 shark attacks each year and less than one shark attack death every two years, according to National Geographic, which notes that lightning kills at least 41 people a year off the country’s coasts.


Of the 375 shark species that have been identified, only a dozen are considered particularly dangerous, Nat Geo reports. The three most dangerous sharks (meaning they attack most humans) are the great white shark, the tiger shark, and the bull shark. Great white sharks live in all of the world’s temperate ocean waters, including the East Coast.

Also, great white sharks have been spotted specifically in waters around New York City, according to marine biologists.

A recent study by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute confirmed that baby white sharks move in seasonal migrations off the coast of New York. In fact, scientists believe that the New York Bight from Cape May Inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point on Long Island serves as an important “nursery” for juvenile great white sharks.


Provoked bites are caused by humans touching sharks. There have recently been a number of incidents involving divers being bitten after grabbing or feeding a shark underwater, notes the florida museum.

Unprovoked bites occur when sharks make first contact. This can take three forms.

HIT AND RUN BITES. They occur near beaches, where sharks try to make a living by catching fish. In rough surf, strong currents, and murky water, a shark can confuse the movements of humans, usually on the surface, with those of its normal food, fish. The shark makes a grab, releases it, and immediately leaves the area. They often bite their legs or feet; injuries are usually minor and fatalities are rare.

STEALTH BITES. They take place in deeper water. The victim does not see the shark before the encounter. The result can be serious injury or death, especially if the shark continues to attack.

HIT AND BITE. It occurs when the shark circles and hits the victim with its head or body before biting. As in the sneak bite, the shark can attack repeatedly, causing serious injury or death.


January 1, 1642 Between Manhattan and the Bronx swimming unprovoked Mortal Details
August 1, 1860 Brooklyn swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
August 12, 1864 Manhattan swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
September 2, 1865 Greenport Sound, Long Island swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
July 15, 1874 Coney Island Chapoteando unprovoked No mortal Details
August 8, 1878 Brooklyn swimming unprovoked Mortal Details
August 9, 1878 East River swimming unprovoked Mortal Details
August 21, 1894 Woolsey’s Point, East River swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
August 22, 1898 Prince’s Bay, Staten Island swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
July 24, 1909 Rockaway He fell overboard while fishing for sharks. unprovoked No mortal Details
July 13, 1916 Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
June 25, 1950 Beach 103rd Street, Rockaway swimming unprovoked No mortal Details
September 3, 1953 Rockaway Beach surf fishing unprovoked No mortal Details
FUENTE: Shark Attack Data / http://www.sharkattackdata.com/place/united_states_of_america/new_york.

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