Sharks in CT: Shark Species in Connecticut & Recent Sightings

People aren’t too thrilled to be sharing the water with sharks, but it’s just the reality of living in Connecticut. There are a number of shark species that have been spotted along the Connecticut coastline, including great whites.

This article will cover everything you need to know about sharks in CT, including the types of sharks that live here and where they’re found. I’ll also let you know exactly what to do if you see a shark in the water while swimming.

A potential shark in CT.

Types of Sharks in Connecticut

There are only a handful of sharks that reside near Connecticut’s coastline. They include the sand tiger shark, the sandbar shark (also known as the brown shark), the smooth dogfish shark, and the spiny dogfish shark.

None of these shark species are dangerous to humans, although there have been a few attacks recorded (more on this later).

These Connecticut sharks usually feed on small fish and other invertebrates in the ocean, so it’s difficult to mistake humans for food. Even if they were to bite, the wound would be much less severe than a bite from a larger shark, like a great white.

Great whites prey on seals that stick close to the shoreline in shallow waters, so it’s much easier for them to accidentally attack a person.

Are there Great White Sharks in CT?

There are no great white sharks in Connecticut waters, however, there is a large population of great whites in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Long Island shields the Connecticut shoreline from the Atlantic Ocean, and it seems to deter many species of shark.

But the growing population of great whites in New England (due to conservation efforts) has many people concerned. In fact, there was hysteria when a 10-foot great white shark weighing 500 pounds was tracked in Long Island Sound off the coast of Greenwich in 2019.

Researchers have since stated that the location of the shark may have been off by a couple of hundred miles because of issues with the shark’s tracking device. But, there’s still the very real possibility that great whites can venture into the Long Island Sound, simply due to the fact that they live so close.

The population of great white sharks in Cape Cod is one of the highest in the county, plus they’re frequently spotted on the south side of Long Island.

Dusky sharks are another large, potentially dangerous species of shark found just on the other side of Long Island. Although they are not known to live near the CT shore, it’s possible for one to show up.

Shark Attacks in CT

There have only been 3 recorded occurrences of unprovoked shark attacks in CT since 1890. The last attack was in 1960 at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT.

Although the number of sharks in Connecticut is up, beachgoers can be relatively confident that they won’t encounter a dangerous shark. You can swim at the beach without having to worry too much about a shark attack.

The same goes for Massachusetts beaches. Although large sharks are frequently spotted near the shore, there have only been a few dozen attacks in the past hundred years. Only one fatal shark attack has been recorded since the 1930s, which actually took place in 2018 off the coast of Cape Cod.

What to do if You See a Shark While Swimming

You’re not likely to encounter a shark in CT, but if you do, here are some things to do to increase your chances of survival.

  • Stay calm and don’t splash around.
  • Keep your eyes on the shark and face it at all times.
  • While facing the shark, slowly back away towards the shore or your boat.
  • If the shark gets close, punch and kick it in the gills or nose.
  • Hit the shark with an object if you have one. This will help keep some distance between you and its mouth.

If you’re trying to stay safe, it’s never a good idea to go swimming in the ocean alone. Also, don’t go into the water if you have open wounds. Leaving flashy jewelry on the beach can help prevent shark attacks as well.

Recent Shark Sightings in CT

Sharks are most commonly spotted in New England in the late summer and early fall. We know this because sharks that have been tagged with tracking devices ping more in July, August, September, and October.

Water temperature is believed to play a role in the migratory pattern of sharks. They will also move if they’re having a difficult time finding food.

If you’re wondering whether or not there have been shark sightings in the Connecticut River, the answer is no. The only instance of a shark attack occurring in a river was in Mystic back in 1933. A woman was swimming in the Mystic River and had her food bitten.

Connecticut Sharks – Final Thoughts

Although their population is growing, it’s very unlikely that you’ll see a shark in Connecticut while swimming. You can swim along the coast with peace of mind.