Beaches in Coney Island, including Steeplechase Pier and Brooklyn beach, were closed today after shark sightings.
The sharks spotted were believed to be young basking sharks, which were swimming about 50 to 60 yards offshore. Basking sharks are slow-movers that can grow up to 40 feet long. However, they are filter-feeders, meaning they sift plankton from the sea. So, they are no real threat to humans. Still, since they are large animals, caution was warranted.
“Out of an abundance of safety, Parks closes beaches to swimmers when sharks are in the immediate area,” Crystal Howard, Parks Department spokeswoman said in a statement. “Because sharks have been sighted in certain areas of Coney Island Beach today, Parks has closed specific stretches of beach and will continue to monitor the situation.”
According to NBC New York, NYPD aviation and harbour units were surveying the area for sharks. Some beaches were re-opened periodically throughout the day.
Jon Dohlin, Vice President and Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, backed the closures. “Today’s reported shark sightings off Coney Island are a reminder that New York City and its waterways are home to fascinating marine wildlife,” he said in a statement. “We agree with the decision by New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation to close beaches out of an abundance of caution and respect for these animals.”
Dohlin said the basking sharks are likely coming closer to shore to feed.
A group of 10 sharks were spotted off Monmouth Beach in New Jersey today, as well. They were just 10 feet from the shore, near the beach club. However, the sharks spotted in New Jersey haven’t been identified yet. No one was swimming there when the sharks were seen.
Earlier this month, sharks were also seen for the 17th consecutive year off the coast of Cape Cod.
Waters around the world are full of creatures so it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one in the water. Always be aware of your surroundings and follow beach guidelines, including closures.
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