Sharks And Safety In New Hampshire: Know This Before Hitting The Waters

We all love a splash around in the ocean, right? Ask anyone about their favorite place to be, and the beach is sure to be in their top five.

But while heading out into the water can be lots of great fun, you should never jump in head first without ensuring that it is safe to do so.

There are so many casualties caused by the sea. She can be a cruel mistress indeed. If it isn’t her powerful waves or strong currents, it’s the many creatures that keep her as their habitat.

And yep, today we’re talking about sharks. These creatures are beautiful and majestic and quite a wonder to behold, but you don’t want to find yourself too close to one while you’re splashing around.

While these beasts of the sea are captivating, they also have razor-sharp teeth, are very dangerous, and can be deadly.

And sightings of swimming sharks around the Gulf of Maine are on the increase. And so obviously, you may be wondering if they’re also making their way to the shores of New Hampshire.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about sharks in the area and how to keep yourself safe.

First, Let’s Talk About Seals

Seals have historically always been native to these coasts, however, there was a massive drop in their population to the point that they were almost eradicated. Why? Well, us.

Not you and me specifically, but humans, in general, were the reason. We hunted and culled so many of these creatures that their presence became almost non-existent.

Then in the 1970s, the laws changed and these creatures were finally under protection from being slaughtered.

Increasing the population of these mammals hasn’t been an easy or quick fix. It has taken many years to repopulate the waters and recover the prey population to ensure biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem.

But we are starting to get back to this point now, over five decades later.

And what does an increase in seals have to do with an increase in shark sightings? Well, seals are the natural prey of sharks. And where you find seals you’re going to find their predators looking for a meal.

It is worth mentioning that it still isn’t really possible to truly understand the exact population of sharks or seals in the Gulf of Maine due to the seasonal migration and foraging patterns

Staying Safe In The Water

Sharks And Safety In New Hampshire

Currently, there hasn’t been a documented shark attack in the waters of New Hampshire. So there’s some good news there.

Of course, with the proximity of the shark sightings, it is still very important to be hyper-vigilant while in the waters.

The recovering seal population is tempting sharks closer to the shores and this is probably why more shark sightings are being reported. And it certainly highlights the risks of venturing too far into the waters around the area.

It is worth remembering that shark experts are still saying that shark attacks in New England are incredibly rare. So while there are more sightings, it’s still nowhere close to being guaranteed when you venture into the waters.

And a great white shark, contrary to popular belief, does not specifically prey on humans. They won’t come looking or hunting you. When shark attacks do happen, they have more often than not, mistaken a human for a seal.

Swimmers and surfers, especially those wearing wetsuits, can look much like their prey and that is when things can become pretty precarious.

But a shark’s intentions will matter very little if you do find yourself within their proximity which is why there have been recommended actions to take while in the water.

Of course, the only way to guarantee that you do not come face-to-face with one of these predators is to stay ashore.

For those who do choose to brave the waters should always adhere to the following rules/actions:

  • Stay Aware – Sharks are known to hunt for seals even in fairly shallow waters, so ensure that you are constantly staying aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay Close – If you do choose to go into the water, stay fairly close to the shore. This is so that rescuers have relatively easy access to you should you come into trouble. If you are too deep they will not be able to reach you quickly.
  • Stay Together – If you are swimming, paddling, kayaking, or surfing, ensure you do so in groups and never isolate yourself.
  • Stay Away From Seals – When seals are present in the area, stay far away. A shark won’t know the difference between you and a seal.
  • Stay Away From Schools Of Fish – Again, you want to stay far away from any shark prey.
  • Stay Away From Murky Water – You can’t be aware of your surroundings if the water is murky or has low visibility. Only stay in clear areas where you can be sure of anything else that may be lurking in the water.
  • Don’t Splash – Where possible avoid splashing in the water. This movement can mimic seals.
  • Always Listen To The Signage/Flag Warnings – These signs and flags are not in place to restrict your fun and ruin your day. They are in place to keep you safe. By not following these precautions you put not only yourself at risk but all on-duty lifeguards too.
  • Always Listen To The Lifeguards – Again, lifeguards are there to protect you and ensure your safety. Always listen and adhere to any instructions from your lifeguards.

Shark Bite First Aid

While it is fairly unlikely, and it is not a nice thing to imagine, you should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

And in terms of shark attacks, most victims that survive do so because of first-aid that is initiated by others. The most important thing to do is try and stop the blood loss from any major hemorrhage.

In these situations minutes and even seconds matter. A person with this kind of injury can be pronounced dead in as little as 5 minutes.

This is why learning bleeding control is so important. And this kind of first aid applies to shark attacks but is certainly not limited to this scenario.

For peace of mind, it may be worthwhile considering Stop The Bleed Training. You never know when this might be necessary.

Final Thoughts

While reading this kind of article can definitely feel a bit scary, it is important to remember that shark attacks are still extremely rare.

A shark won’t purposefully come to sure looking to attack or feed on a human. And if you do venture into the water you are more than likely not going to see a shark.

With that being said, the population of both sharks and seals is on the increase. And with that, a few more sightings are going to be likely. And while shark attacks are rare, they are still inhabitants of these waters.

And so if you do venture into the sea you need to do so carefully, respectfully, and safely. Abide by all the safety rules, and whatever you do, always ensure that you listen to the instructions of the lifeguards.


Kyle Battis is a life-long NH resident that enjoys making his way around the state, sampling delicious food and drinks, and sharing his experiences. Follow us at