Department of Environmental Conservation

Sharks have existed for millions of years in New York’s marine waters. They are apex predators, which means they are natural predators at the top of the food chain and have few natural predators.

The presence of sharks in a healthy marine ecosystem is a positive indication. Sharks prevent the degradation of the marine environment and monopolization of limited resources by other species. They influence the behavior and distribution of prey, removing weak and sick individuals from prey populations.

Shark Study and Preservation

Shark Observer

We invite you to submit your observations to help biologists further understand the behavior and ecology of local sharks, as well as record the presence of sharks in the waters of New York State.

If you are boating, fishing, or enjoying the beach, please observe a shark and then take some pictures to report the sighting to Survey Spotter.

New York Shark Recovery Initiative

The necropsy will be conducted to identify potential causes of death in the shark, and tissue samples will be collected if possible. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) collects information on each reported dead shark, including the animal’s sex, length, species, and location. Shark mortalities can occur for various reasons, including natural causes, parasitism, predation, and interactions with the fishery.

To aid these endeavors, several scientific and academic researchers in New York are collaborating to support multiple ongoing biological studies across the country. Their objective is to enhance our understanding of the demise of each deceased animal and gain valuable insights into fisheries management by analyzing shared tissue samples.

To report your observation of deceased sharks, utilize DEC’s Marine Life Incident Report or dial 631-444-0444.

Further Study on Sharks

Browse through these websites to uncover more details about current shark research in the New York waters (clicking on the links will take you outside the DEC website):.

  • Frisk Lab at Stony Brook University.
  • Peterson Lab at Stony Brook University.
  • South Fork Natural History Museum.
  • Society for the Preservation of Wildlife.
  • O’Seas Preservation Organization.
  • Atlantic Shark Research Center.
  • Sharks and Ensuring Public Safety

    Sharks, like top predators, face risks when they enter any wild environment, whether it’s the water or the land, in which humans also assume risks. New York’s ocean beaches are a natural and wild part of a marine ecosystem with a rich diversity of sea life.

    Although it is impossible to completely eliminate risk, people can reduce overall risk and minimize potential interactions with sharks by modifying their behavior.

    Reduce the likelihood of shark encounters.

  • Stay away from areas where seals are present.
  • Steer clear of areas with clusters of fish, leaping fish, or diving seabirds.
  • It is advisable to refrain from swimming during twilight, nighttime, and early morning.
  • Stay away from cloudy water.
  • Swim, kayak, and ride the waves in groups.
  • Stay near the coastline, where you can reach the ocean floor with your feet; and.
  • Always adhere to the guidance provided by lifeguards and staff members of the Parks.
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    Printable Resources:.

  • ‘Be Shark Wise!’ (PDF) brochure.
  • Shark Spotter (PDF) tip cards.
  • Species of Sharks Found in New York

    Many species of sharks make seasonal migrations to New York’s marine waters every year. Sharks such as the basking shark can range in size from 4 feet, while others like the dogfish shark can grow up to 40 feet. The biological characteristics of these sharks can greatly vary. Each shark species has its own preferences for water temperature, habitat, and food. The impact of these differences can be observed when sharks are present in New York waters.

    If you spot a shark, kindly submit your observation using the NYSDEC Shark Spotter online survey (leaves DEC website).

    – Vulnerable – Permitted – – Sunning – Species of Concern – Endangered – Appendix II – Forbidden – No – Blue – – Near Threatened – Permitted – No – No – Common Thresher – High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need – Vulnerable – Appendix II – Permitted – – Dusky – High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need – Species of Concern – Endangered – Prohibited – Yes – Yes – Sand Tiger – High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need – Species of Concern – Critically Endangered – Prohibited – No – Sandbar – – Endangered – Prohibited – No – Yes – Shortfin Mako – – Endangered – Appendix II – Prohibited – Yes – Yes – Smooth Dogfish – – Near Threatened – Permitted – No – No – Smooth Hammerhead – – Vulnerable – Appendix II – Permitted – – Spinner – – Vulnerable – Permitted – – Spiny Dogfish – – Vulnerable – Permitted – No – No – White – High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need – Vulnerable – Appendix II – Prohibited – No – – Shark Conservation Status – Species State Listing – Federal Listing – IUCN – CITES – Fishery Status – Overfished – Overfishing – Atlantic Blacktip

    For more information, please refer to the PDF document titled “New York Shark Conservation Status & Definitions” for additional details.

    Discover information about the prevalent shark species that inhabit the waters surrounding New York:

    Atlantic Blacktip Shark

    (Carcharhinus limbatus).

    DIMENSION: up to 8 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Prey: Consume small groups of fish, smaller sharks, squids, stingrays, shrimp, and crabs.
  • The shark reaches sexual maturity at 4-6 years. It exhibits placental viviparity, meaning that it gives birth to live offspring.
  • Pregnancy Duration: 11-12 months.
  • The spinner shark resembles the blacktip shark found in the Atlantic. A distinguishing characteristic of the Atlantic blacktip shark is the white anal fin.
  • This particular type can occasionally be discovered in sizable gatherings.
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    Sunbathing Shark

    (Cetorhinus maximus).

    DIMENSIONS: up to 40 feet.

    HABITAT: Mainly located in the open sea. Frequently encountered in close proximity to the water’s surface.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Filter feeder: consumes small aquatic animals.
  • Extremely sluggish swimmer.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 16 – 20 feet (12 – 16 years old).
  • Lives for 50 or more years.
  • Gives live birth (ovoviviparous) to a small number of offspring.
  • Duration of pregnancy: 3 years.
  • Indigo Shark

    (Prionace glauca).

    DIMENSION: up to 12.5 feet.

    HABITAT: Primarily located in the offshore areas.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Typically a leisurely swimmer, but has the ability to swim quickly.
  • Prey: cephalopods and small aquatic creatures.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 6 – 7 feet (4 – 7 years).
  • Can live for up to two decades.
  • Puppies have an average of 30 litters; they are fully developed until they are nourished by a yolk sac and placenta and give birth to live young (viviparous).
  • Pregnancy duration: 9 – 12 months.
  • Ordinary Thresher Shark

    (Alopias vulpinus).

    DIMENSIONS: up to 25 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • It will gather groups of fish and utilize its sizable caudal fin (tail) to immobilize its prey.
  • Skilled swimmers. Occasionally seen jumping out of the water.
  • Prey: small schooling fish like butterfish, bluefish, menhaden, mackerel, and sand lance.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 10 – 15 feet (8 – 12 years).
  • Has a lifespan of 45 – 50 years.
  • Gives live birth (ovoviviparous) to around 2 to 4 offspring.
  • Duration of pregnancy: 12 months.
  • Gray Shark

    (Carcharhinus obscurus).

    SIZE: reaching a maximum length of 14 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Prey: osseous and cartilaginous fish, mollusks, arthropods.
  • It develops at an extremely sluggish rate and takes a long time to reach maturity. It attains adulthood when it reaches approximately 9 feet in size, a process that usually spans from 16 to 23 years.
  • Can live up to 45 years.
  • On average, puppies give birth to about 14 – 3 litters. These young ones, which are viviparous, are fully developed until they are nourished by a yolk sac and placenta and are able to live after birth.
  • Pregnancy duration: 22 – 24 months.
  • Grey Nurse Shark

    (Carcharias taurus).

    SIZE: up to 10.5 feet in length.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine.. Uses Long Island estuaries such as Great South Bay, which provide nursery habitat for juveniles during summer months.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Prey: osseous and cartilaginous fish, mollusks, arthropods.
  • Attains adulthood at approximately 6.5 feet (6 – 10 years old).
  • Has a lifespan of 15 years or more.
  • During gestation, the most advanced embryo in each uterus will consume the less developed embryos through adelphophagy. It gives birth to 1 – 2 offspring by means of live birth (ovoviviparous).
  • Pregnancy duration: 9 – 12 months.
  • Sandbar Shark

    (Carcharhinus plumbeus).

    ALTERNATIVE NAMES: Brown shark.

    DIMENSION: up to 8 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Prey: small benthic fish and crustaceans like flatfish, anglerfish, skates, rays, dogfish, and blue crabs.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 5 feet (15 – 18 years old).
  • Has a lifespan of 20 – 30 years.
  • Puppies give birth to about an average number of litters, and they are fully developed until they are nourished by a yolk sac and placenta, allowing them to live.
  • Duration of pregnancy: 12 months.
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    Shortfin Mako Shark

    (Isurus oxyrinchus).

    DIMENSIONS: up to 13 feet.

    HABITAT: Primarily located at sea.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • The world’s fastest shark can reach burst swimming speeds of up to 43 mph.
  • Predator: consumes fast swimming pelagic fish like tuna, swordfish, billfish, other sharks, bluefish, and squid.
  • Attains adulthood at approximately 6.5 – 9.5 feet (8 – 18 years old).
  • Has a lifespan of approximately 20 years.
  • Gives live birth (ovoviviparous) to 5 – 10 offspring.
  • The duration of pregnancy: 15 – 18 months.
  • Sleek Dogfish

    (Mustelus canis).

    ALTERNATIVE NAMES: Sand shark, Dusky smooth-hound.

    DIMENSION: up to 5 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • It possesses rows of flat molar teeth.
  • Prey: shellfish, tiny fish, and mollusks.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 2.25 – 4.25 feet (2 – 5 years old).
  • Has a lifespan of approximately 10 to 16 years.
  • Puppies typically have around an average of 20 – 4 litters; they are fully developed until birth and are nourished by a yolk sac and placenta, allowing them to live (viviparous).
  • Pregnancy duration: 10 – 11 months.
  • Sleek Hammerhead Shark

    (Sphyrna zygaena).

    DIMENSIONS: up to 16 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine..

    BIOLOGY:.

  • One of the four species of hammerhead sharks.
  • Prey: osseous and cartilaginous fish, mollusks, arthropods.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 7 – 9 feet.
  • Lives for 20 or more years.
  • On average, litters of about 20 to 40 puppies are born. These young ones are nourished by a yolk sac placenta until they are fully developed and ready to live after birth.
  • Pregnancy duration: 10 – 11 months.
  • Spinner Shark

    (Carcharhinus brevipinna).

    SIZE: up to 9 feet HABITAT: Coastal and marine.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • When feeding these sharks are known for breaching the surface and spinning in the air up to 20 feet above the surface.
  • Prey: Groups of small bait fish like Atlantic menhaden.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 4-5 feet (7-8 years).
  • Has a lifespan of approximately 15-20 years.
  • Gives rise to live offspring with their embryos nourished by a yolk sac-placenta.
  • Pregnancy duration: 11-15 months.
  • The spinner shark looks similar to the Atlantic blacktip shark. The distinguishing characteristic is the black anal fin on the spinner shark.
  • This particular type can occasionally be discovered in sizable gatherings.
  • Thorny Dogfish

    (Squalus acanthias).

    DIMENSIONS: up to 4 feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Moves in extensive groups.
  • Prey: small fish like herring, menhaden, sand lance, and mackerel, along with squids and crustaceans.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 2.25 – 4.25 feet (6 – 12 years old).
  • Has a lifespan of approximately 25 – 30 years.
  • Gives live birth (ovoviviparous) to 6 – 7 offspring.
  • Duration of pregnancy: 2 years.
  • Great White Shark

    (Carcharodon carcharias).

    DIMENSIONS: up to 18+ feet.

    HABITAT: Coastal and marine.. Juveniles utilize Long Island’s coastal ocean as nursery habitat throughout the warm season.

    BIOLOGY:.

  • Powerful swimmers and stealthy predators.
  • Prey includes adult whales, as well as rays, sharks, seals, and other fishes, both cartilaginous and bony, that feed on juveniles, found dead in the gorge.
  • Reaches adulthood at approximately 10 – 16 feet (26 – 33 years old).
  • Can live up to 70 years.
  • Gives live birth (ovoviviparous) to small groups of offspring.
  • Pregnancy duration: 12 – 18 months.
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