Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Sharks in N.J. Coastal Waters


Expert Pitch

New Brunswick, N.J. (May 30, 2019) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Thomas M. Grothues, an expert on sharks and other fishes, is available for interviews on sharks along the Jersey Shore and in other N.J. coastal waters.

“The sharks making news at the Jersey Shore are great white sharks being tracked by a private company,” said Grothues, an associate research professor at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station in Little Egg Harbor. “Getting a handle on total population size is difficult, and the ability to ‘see’ them via tagging technology and social media does not necessarily reflect their actual numbers. However, great white sharks appear to be responding (in population size or distribution) to an increase in grey and harbor seals along the U.S. East Coast.”

Great white sharks pose little threat to swimmers, though the threat can grow in areas where swimmers coincide with their intended seal prey, Grothues said. Many other shark species can be found along the Jersey Shore. Most are not dangerous. Some, like common threshers, will chase fish into shallow water after schools of fish, but are not well-equipped to attack people and typically focus on one type of prey.

“As water temperatures increase we could see the occasional bull shark, which is an aggressive species,” he said. “Cow nose ray populations are also increasing and are frequently mistaken for sharks in very shallow water, even in the surf, when their wing tips break the water and look like dorsal fins. They don’t bite.”

Grothues is available to comment at grothues@marine.rutgers.edu

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Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Neal Buccino at neal.buccino@echo.rutgers.edu

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