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Shark Waters

The waters off the East Coast are home to more than 50 shark species. These range from the small spiny dogfish to the much larger white shark, and they are found in just about every kind of ocean habitat.

Shark Waters

Most Atlantic sharks spend at least part of their lives in coastal waters. Many species move through bays and estuaries along the U.S. coast in search of food. Others are open-ocean dwellers that use shallower waters as nurseries or occasional feeding grounds.

Understanding the effects of climate change on sharks and other fish populations is an emerging area of study and a priority for NOAA Fisheries. Some southern species are extending their ranges farther north. However, there is currently no evidence that sharks are spending more time near shore as a result of warming waters.

Fishing and other human activities in the 1980s and early 1990s significantly lowered some Atlantic shark populations. Today we manage 43 species of sharks in Atlantic federal waters with rules that prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks. Thanks to this science-based approach, several [shark] stocks have experienced population growth including:

Similar to white shark population increases, seal populations are rebuilding as a result of federal, state, and local protections. For instance, gray seals, which were once nearly eradicated in New England, are now a common sight off of Cape Cod, MA.

\"That's when the shark bit the life vest in front of me,\" Luan Nguyen said. \"I punched him in the face. And I think that's where I caught ... these injuries on my hand. ... I took my two thumbs and jabbed him in the eyes, and he took off.\"

As apex predators, sharks remove sick and weak individuals from prey populations, resulting in a healthy and balanced marine environment. The predation of sharks can have trickle-down effects on all species in the food chain through prey abundance and distribution. The presence of sharks increases species diversity and prevents one species from monopolizing limited resources.

We invite you to submit your observations of sharks in the wild. The observations you submit help biologists record the presence of sharks in New York State waters and also help to further the understanding of local shark ecology and behavior.

Dead sharks are retrieved by DEC whenever possible in order to record information such as species, sex, and length, and document the carcass with pictures and its stranding location coordinates. DEC coordinates with a network of researchers to complete in-depth exams on recovered sharks.

To report your sighting of dead sharks, use DEC's Marine Life Incident Report. For questions or more information about fish kills, contact or call 631-444-0714.

New York's ocean beaches are part of a wild and natural marine ecosystem with a rich diversity of sea life. Humans assume risk whenever they enter any wild environment, whether on land or in the water. When in the ocean, part of this risk includes interacting with apex predators such as sharks.

Although it is impossible to eliminate risk altogether, people can modify their behavior to minimize potential interactions with sharks and reduce overall risk. View helpful tips on sharks and public safety (PDF).

Many species of sharks can be found in New York's marine waters. Sharks can range in sizes from 4 feet, such as dogfish sharks, up to 40 feet, such as the basking shark. The biological characteristics of these sharks can differ greatly. Each shark species has its own water temperature, depth, prey, and feeding style preferences. These differences impact when and where sharks are observed in New York waters.

Even as the two men were pulled from the water, they were being circled and harassed by four blacktip sharks measuring about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) long, said Andrew Stone, a seaman in the Coast Guard boat crew that rescued the exhausted pair.

Shark fishing from shore? Be sure to take the Shark-Smart Fishing educational course at and get your Shore-based Shark Fishing permit. Both are required when fishing for shark from shore and must be renewed annually.

Prohibited shark species must remain in the water with the gills submerged when fishing from shore or from a vessel, and prohibited shark species must be released without delay when fishing from the shore. If hook removal will delay release, cut the hook or the leader as close to the hook as possible.

For regulations on rays, visit the Unregulated Species page. Harvest of giant manta ray and spotted eagle ray are prohibited in state and federal waters. For yellow stingrays, visit the Marine Life species page.

If you plan to target or keep sharks caught from shore, including structures attached to shore such as jetties, bridges and piers, you are required to pass an online educational course found at

Recreational anglers fishing for or harvesting sharks in state waters are not required to hold the federal HMS vessel permit. However, if you are fishing from a HMS-permitted vessel, you must comply with the permit requirements when fishing in both state and federal waters.

Sharks are apex predators that play an important role in marine ecosystems. Releasing sharks in a way that increases their chance of survival is an important step toward achieving and maintaining healthy, sustainable shark populations.

Not every encounter with a shark is intentional or wanted. Sharks have been known to take fish off the line and even bite boat motors. These negative shark interactions are an unfortunate side effect of healthy and sustainable shark populations. While it may be unfavorable, the best way to avoid negative interactions with sharks is to move to another area and away from where shark activity is occurring.

The final stop on your journey through the living sea is Shark waters, the largest exhibit at OdySea Aquarium. Shark waters holds just under 400,000 gallons of ocean water, and houses over twenty different sharks representing four different species. The largest sharks in this system are called lemon sharks. Our lemon sharks are over eight feet in length and weigh over 250 pounds! Lemon sharks get their name because some individuals have a yellowish coloration to them. The large silver sharks you see zooming around are called Sandbar sharks. They are one of the most common sharks found off the Atlantic coast of the United States. They max out at about 200lbs. The sharks that are moving slowly around the exhibit are the sand tigers. You can easily tell them apart from the others by their many rows of sharp teeth and the black pigmentation marks located along the sides of their bodies. The final shark species you will see is the nurse shark. They have a much rounder face and flatter body than the other sharks and they can normally be found resting on the bottom.

All of the sharks in this exhibit are fed a carefully calculated diet based off a number of different variables such as weight and age. Each shark has a specific symbol it associates with food and when the symbol is placed in the water the shark swims to the surface and the animal care specialist is able to feed it with tongs. The other fish you see in this exhibit are different types of jacks. Jacks are a predatory fish and the two species in this exhibit will mature at weights of 30-45lbs. Shark waters can be viewed from the carousel, from the curved window in front of the jelly exhibit and from the Aqua Lobby restrooms. In 2017, these restrooms received recognition as the best restrooms in America!

The yearly average of unprovoked shark bites on humans globally is 70, resulting in about 5 deaths. These worldwide numbers are small given the millions of humans that enter the water. You have a better chance of dying from a bee sting, a dog or snake bite, or lightning than from a shark bite. You can look at some of these odds on our comparing risks page here.

Although the relative risk of a shark bite is very small, risks should always be minimized whenever possible in any activity. The chances of having an interaction with a shark can be reduced with these tips:

Provoked bites occur when a human initiates interaction with a shark in some way. These include instances when people are bitten after harassing or trying to touch sharks, bites occurring while unhooking or removing a shark from a fishing net, and so forth. In these encounters, the shark is responding with defensive behavior. Bites on spearfishers, bites on people attempting to feed sharks, bites occurring while unhooking or removing a shark from a fishing net are also classified as provoked bites. These events all involve food. The sharks may bite a person by mistake during the frenzy for food, and habitually fed wildlife may become aggressive towards humans if food is not available. Never feed wildlife!

Sharks are blessed with outstanding senses of smell, taste, hearing, and sight; the ability to detect minute changes in water pressure and electromagnetic fields; and other attributes that make them nearly invincible in the sea. Yet they are quite vulnerable to a baited hook and the stress of the fight on a line can be too much for some species to survive. In many areas of the world sharks are becoming overfished and some species are seriously threatened. That said sustainable fisheries for sharks do exist. Many right here in the USA.

More and more people understand that sharks are a valuable part of the ocean environment and many species 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 white, sand tiger, whale, and basking sharks, have received special governmental protection in some countries. 041b061a72


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