Five Common Sharks Found Along the East Coast

(The Washington Post) —
shark, shark east coast
A dusky shark (NOAA)

Several varieties of sharks call the waters off the Eastern Seaboard home.

They tend to swim north in the summer as the hot weather warms the waters off the coast. While sharks occasionally venture near the shore, they are usually several miles away from the coast.

In no particular order, here are five types of sharks commonly observed along the mid-Atlantic coast.

Dusky shark

It ranges in size from three to 12 feet and is found up and down the Atlantic Coast, from Florida to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

It has a rounded snout and triangular-shaped teeth. It has been overfished and for two decades has been off-limits to recreational and commercial fishers.

shark, shark east coast
A sandbar shark (NOAA)

Sandbar shark

This is one of the more common shark species off the Chesapeake Bay. Its heavyset body ranges from two to eight feet long. They are considered valuable to commercial fisheries for their fins, which are sometimes used in shark-fin soup, which is popular in parts of Asia. Shark finning is prohibited in the United States.

shark, shark east coast
A sand tiger shark (NOAA)

Sand tiger shark

Found in the waters off Ocean City, Maryland, this shark is seen from Maine to Florida and is commonly found in the Delaware Bay.

It grows to about 10 feet long and has long, narrow teeth that stick out even when its mouth is shut. It is known for being brownish-gray with reddish or rust-colored spots on its back.

Shortfin mako

These sharks are known for their speed, traveling 22 to 42 mph. They’re also known for distance: They can travel as far as 1,300 miles in a month.

Shortfin mako grow to more than 10 feet long and are found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. They are one of the most popular species targeted for recreational fishing in the Atlantic.

Their unique coloring includes dark purple to indigo blue on their top sides, silver on the sides and white on the bottom.

shark, shark east coast
A spiny dogfish shark (NOAA)

Spiny dogfish shark

These sharks grow to about five feet long and can be seen in parts of the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Cod and down to South Carolina.

They are named for the spines or spikes on their dorsal fins. Their mouths open downward, helping them search for food on the ocean floor.

Information and data are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Les Kaufman – a shark expert and biology professor at Boston University’s Marine Program and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – Shark Specialist Group.

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