In case you didn't know, there are sharks in the ocean.

I know, right? Crazy?? Who would've known???

Sarcasm is over.

This isn't an article to instill fear or to keep people out of the ocean, even if the title has the words "watch out."

Cut me some slack, in today's social media world you need a little bit of sensationalism.

I am a constant learner. I love absorbing new information, so finding out which shark species may be off of our coast is fascinating to me.

Let's start with the "big bad," the shark that has instilled fear ever since the movie Jaws was released.

1. Great White Shark

Photo by Gerald Schömbs on Unsplash
Photo by Gerald Schömbs on Unsplash

Fun fact, the New Jersey coast is home to a very large great white shark nursery.

The area called the New York Bight, which spans from Montauk, New York, to Cape May, New Jersey is a well-known great white shark breeding ground.

2. Atlantic Common Thresher Shark

NOAA Fisheries/Walter Heim
NOAA Fisheries/Walter Heim

These sharks are pretty cool due to their tail being very long at the top.

Threshers aren't known to be aggressive towards people, but like all sharks it would be advised to keep your distance.

3. Shortfin Mako Shark

mako shark
Photo by Elaine Brewer on Unsplash

The pronounced snout on this shark makes it look quite menacing. These sharks get to about 13 feet long.

Makos can also be identified by their very large/long gills.

4. Sandbar Shark

G.P. Schmahl/NOAA
G.P. Schmahl/NOAA

Anytime I see a photo of a sandbar shark I think of the Jenkinson's Aquarium. I remember being fascinated by them when I visited the aquarium.

As a kid, I was terrified of sandbars because I thought that on the other side, these sharks were just waiting to grab a foot of an unsuspecting bather. Obviously, this was a ridiculous fear.

5. Bull Shark

Bull Shark

Honestly, if I were to fear one shark it would be this one.

Bull sharks are sometimes regarded as the most dangerous to humans due to their unprovoked aggression and the fact that they can be found in freshwater and saltwater.

The shark that had a series of attacks in 1916 in New Jersey and was the inspiration for the book Jaws was believed to be a bull shark.

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6. Sand Tiger Shark

sand tiger shark
Bruce Sudweeks/NOAA

Another species that fascinated me at Jenkinson's Aquarium was the nurse shark because they look slightly terrifying, but are not considered aggressive towards humans.

These sharks have no fatal attacks on humans and usually only attack when provoked.

7. Blue Shark

blue shark
Mark Conlin/

This species of shark kind of looks like a torpedo with its long snout.

These sharks are more of a deep water species and are known to be curious around divers.

8/9. Smooth Dogfish/Spiny Dogfish

spiny dogfish
National Ocean Service

I put these two together because they have slight variations, but similar characteristics.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, "The spiny dogfish has one spine in front of each of the two dorsal fins while the smooth dogfish lacks dorsal spines."

The New Jersey Diving described the difference in aggression, "Unlike the Spiny Dogfish, which can be comically aggressive at times, the Smooth Dogfish is almost certain to flee from a diver..."

They are commonly found in our bays and are so tiny (up to 4 feet long) they pose no threat to humans.

10. Hammerhead Shark

hammerhead shark
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Is there a more identifiable shark than the hammerhead shark?

I remember a few years ago, a hammerhead was spotted hunting very close to the shoreline at Island Beach State Park.

11. Basking Shark

basking shark

Let's end this list with the most interesting shark, the basking shark.

These plankton-eating shark looks like something out of a horror movie when it feeds, but we are no where near on the menu.

Yes, there are other species of sharks that can be found off of our coast, but if I kept it going this article would go on forever.

If you want more information on our shark species, here are some resources:

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