Posted by: The Shirker | March 19, 2008

How did Shark River get its name?

Shark River. Never mind that it’s not really a river (it’s actually a tidal basin, or small bay), but where did they get the name from? Is it infested with sharks? Was it ever? In order to quell my curiosity, I did a little digging.

The following is an excerpt from the Historic/Scenic Shark River Tour, a ‘self-guided route for biking, driving and walking’, found on the Monmouth County website:

Originally called the Nolletquesset River by the Lenni Lenape
Indians, the name Shirk River appears on a 1764 indenture
for an adjacent land sale. It’s said the name refers to the
laziness of certain settlers or soldiers who shirked their
duties to enjoy the beauty and recreation of the river. The
name Shack River is listed on a 1781 map, probably for the
many fishing and hunting shanties that lined the shores.
Another map of the same time refers to the river as Hogs
Pond. By the early 1800’s, the crescent-shaped waterway
was referred to as Shark River Pond. While it may very
well be a derivation of the names “Shirk” or “Shack” River,
the evolution of the name is fancifully bantered about in
different folk myths. It’s said in the mid 1800’s, a large
shark was swept up river and perished. The locals pulled the
creature up on the beach and immortalized it by renaming
the river. Others say it is named for the many fossil shark
teeth that can still be found along its banks.

Although I’d like to think that the Shark River was named because of a giant shark found there all those many years ago, it is probably more likely because of the Shirk and/or Shack references. Makes sense to me – as I myself am a lazy settler here who enjoys ‘shirking’ his duties, and before all its updates and renovations over the years, I likely reside in one of the oldest former ‘shacks’ in the Hills.

Incidentally, you might want to check out that scenic tour document I mentioned above. It contains a nice little history of the Shark River and all the surrounding towns, along with a really nice self-guided tour, including scenic points of interest.

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