Sharks in New England

JAMESTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) — Sharks in New England waters are not new. You will find them all over the world, including in Narragansett Bay. Our local sharks are generally not threatening with behavior closer to that of housecats than the notorious great whites.

Dr. Jason Ramsay, shark expert and associate professor of biology at Westfield State University, explained most of them are small and when they see you, they simply swim away. These local sharks include smooth hound sharks and their prey are not mammals. They don’t have sharp teeth; they have molar-like teeth for crushing crabs. Many of our local sharks are not a threat to people.

It’s the summertime that we mainly focus on the dangerous sharks in Southern New England waters. Every March through October the white sharks follow the migration of the seal population offshore. Their path following their food of choice keeps them away from the coast as they head to Massachusetts waters just off Cape Cod.

They don’t usually come into shore. They stay offshore tracking and going from prey population to prey population.

Even if you do see a fin, it doesn’t mean it’s a shark. Dolphins are often mistaken for sharks, as is the mola mola or ocean sunfish.

Ocean sunfish which have a fin on top and bottom of their body and although it looks like a shark, every fin doesn’t necessarily mean it is a shark. And not every shark has sharp teeth or even preys on mammals.

Categories: News, Rhode Island, Scientifically Speaking