Matawan Creek

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Matawan Creek
Country United States
State New Jersey
Counties Monmouth
 - left Clapboard Creek
 - right Birch Swamp Brook, Gravelly Brook, Mohingson Creek
Source Bakers Brook
 - location Marlboro Township, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA
 - coordinates 40°24′57″N 74°13′56″W / 40.41583°N 74.23222°W / 40.41583; -74.23222
Mouth Keyport Harbor
 - location Keyport, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 40°26′20″N 74°12′18″W / 40.43889°N 74.20500°W / 40.43889; -74.20500Coordinates: 40°26′20″N 74°12′18″W / 40.43889°N 74.20500°W / 40.43889; -74.20500

Matawan Creek is a creek and partially a tidal inlet of Raritan Bay. It lies in Monmouth County, New Jersey across from Staten Island, New York.


Matawan Creek's main flow begins as Bakers Brook in Marlboro Township, Monmouth County, north of the intersection of Tennent and Woolleytown Roads. From this point it flows northward through Marlboro and Aberdeen Townships to a point near the Middlesex County line, where it turns in a northeasterly direction. Birch Swamp Brook enters from the right; below this confluence is the impoundment, Lake Lefferts. The section of Bakers Brook in Aberdeen Township is also known as Matawan Brook.

Lake Lefferts lies in Aberdeen Township and Matawan Borough and passes under County Route 516 (New Jersey) and New Jersey Route 34. Below the dam at Ravine Drive Matawan Creek becomes a tidal estuary, meandering through a salt marsh to its mouth. Here it receives the flow of Gravelly Brook, Clapboard Creek and Mohingson Creek and reenters Aberdeen Township. This section was formerly navigable to commercial shipping.

Between the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Route 35 the creek becomes navigable for small private craft and some residences fronting upon the creek have private docks. Downstream of Route 35 are several marinas, although since both the bridge at Route 35 and that at County Route 6 have a low clearance, vessels with masts must remain downstream of County Route 6. From Route 35 to the mouth Matawan Creek forms the boundary between Aberdeen Township and Keyport Borough. There are no further bridges downstream of County Route 6 and Matawan Creek empties into Keyport Harbor, an arm of Raritan Bay.

Although not a tributary of Matawan Creek, Luppatatong Creek enters Keyport Harbor very near to the mouth of Matawan Creek.


During the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, the creek was made infamous due to horrific shark attacks on July 12, 1916, occurring 15 miles (25 km) from the ocean. A shark or sharks killed 11-year-old Lester Stillwell and his 24-year-old would-be rescuer Watson "Stanley" Fisher and severely injured 14-year-old Joseph Dunn later that same day.[1]

This account, in addition to a number of other shark attacks in the local area, are believed to have been the inspiration for the popular novel Jaws, written by Peter Benchley, who in turn co-wrote the screenplay for the blockbuster film of the same name directed by Steven Spielberg. Benchley was a New Jersey native, and had done research on the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 previously. Daniel Magarino, biologist and Professor at Regency University, Staffordshire, England is conducting a study to determine whether the species involved was a bull or white shark. Results are pending.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fernicola, Richard G., Twelve Days of Terror, pp. 45–50.

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