Long Island shark sightings close beach

A Long Island beach was closed yesterday due to multiple shark sightings. According to a CBS 2 report, a “pack of 18-foot sharks” was sighted “dangerously close” to the shore of a West Hamptons Dunes beach. While the report notes that some of the eyewitnesses thought the sharks were thresher sharks (Alopias vulpinus), the dorsal and caudal fins in the video do not appear to be consistent with that of common thresher sharks.

While I’m no expert on shark identification, the dorsal fin seen in the video looks more representative of a basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) to me. If anybody can identify the sharks based on the footage, feel free to share your insight in the comments section.

On a related note, CBS 2 also reports that a seal carcass was found on the beach this morning. A connection between the seal carcass and the sharks is being investigated. (Basking sharks are filter feeders and don’t eat or attack seals.)


  1. Envirozac says:

    The tail and behavior doesn’t exactly match that of a thresher shark. But irrespective of what type of shark they are, I’m dissapointed in the response from the reporters. Even the beachgoer said it was “awesome” while the reporter’s response was “not happy to see it”. To be able to see sharks that close to shore should be cool, and people should be awed and fascinated, not afraid. If they saw a whale that close to shore I’m pretty sure they would think differently. When will we admire sharks in the same way?

    • Basking sharks are believed to be between 5-7′ in length at birth and grow to an average size of between 20-25 feet (with the largest on record being about 40′ in length). The sharks reported of Long Island were said to be about 18′ long which would put them in a reasonable range for basking sharks. I think it was later confirmed by local marine biologists that the sharks in this video were basking sharks. As others have pointed out, the distinct mouth of a basking shark can be seen in the video.

  2. Amber w. says:

    Was On fire island yesterday in fair harbor surf casting off the end of cranberry walk around 1030 am and spotted a shark about 15 ft away from where I was. A dog started barking while playing in the surf and next thing I know I’m looking at a 8 to 10ft shark nearly on shore, checking out the dog. The shark was followed by a neighboring fisherman and few others down the coast for 45 minutes, claimed the shark resurfacing about 4 times. After 5 miles into the chase ending in Ocean Beach, Long Island, no significant photos to prove. Apparently sightings of dorsal fins near the sand bar have been a common trend since 1st wk of October. The shark was dark gray/ blackish in color and dorsal fin about 1 1/2 ft from top to belly. Anyone, please????

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