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Chomping Grounds: Great Whites Lurking Off Jersey Shore, NYC, Long Island Are Social Distancing

Sightings of great whites means local waters are healthy enough to produce the kind of fish and seals that make up the average white shark's diet.
Sightings of great whites means local waters are healthy enough to produce the kind of fish and seals that make up the average white shark's diet. Photo Credit: ocearch.org/INSET: gothamwhale.org

Looks like we won't need a bigger boat: Although reports have emerged of a half-dozen or so great white sharks lurking off the Jersey Shore, New York City and Long Island this summer, a real-life version of "Jaws" isn't coming to a beach near you.

Among the maneaters out there is Caroline -- nearly 13 feet long and 1,348 pounds -- whom the OCEARCH shark tracker pinged between Seaside Heights and Barnegat Light on July 1.

Add in Cabot (nine feet, 533 pounds) and Caper (eight feet, 348 pounds), both of whom were pinged off the Hamptons in early June.

And don't forget 16-foot, 3,456-pound Mary Lee, a "queen of the ocean" who's believed to be summering once again off Long Beach Island instead of the Bahamas.

There's also newcomer: 

Vimy (13 feet, 1,164 pounds) was tracked just this past Friday in the Atlantic between South Jersey and Delaware.

Some people freaked when a 7-foot shark washed up on Rockaway Beach two weeks ago. Authorities said it was a harmless species known as a thresher that posed no threat.

It was also quite a shock when a beast that a fishing crew estimated at no shorter than 16 feet zeroed on in a bag of chum 30 or so miles outside the Manasquan Inlet this spring.

The bottom line: Over the past 183 years, there have been 15 unprovoked attacks of sharks of any kind on humans in New Jersey (one every 12 years) and 12 in New York (one every 15 years), according to the International Shark Attack File.

“The drive to the beach is much riskier than swimming with sharks in the water,” said Paul Sieswerda of the research and advocacy organization Gotham Whale.

Sightings of the finned giants mean local waters are healthy enough to produce the kind of fish and seals that make up the average white shark's diet.

So although the number of Carcharodon carcharias nowadays is "no more than normal," there could be "a steady, slow increase in shark numbers," said OCEARCH founder Chris Fischer.

And that's good, he said.

With great whites scarfing down the weaker fish, stocks will remain strong, Fischer said, "and our great-grandkids will be able to enjoy fish sandwiches and lobster rolls deep into the future.”

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