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Coney Island shark sighting forces beach closure, officials say

Basking sharks were spotted off the coast of

Basking sharks were spotted off the coast of Coney Island on Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stephanie Keith

Officials ordered parts of the beaches along Coney Island closed to swimming on Tuesday after what appeared to be Basking sharks were spotted off the coast of the popular hangout.

The beaches were then reopened later in the day after being closed and opened periodically.

The sharks, which can grow up to 30 feet long, were spotted only 50 to 60 yards off the shore, said Jon Dohlin, Wildlife Conservation Society vice president and director of the New York Aquarium. There appeared to be more than one of the sharks, but they didn’t look like they were full grown.

“Basking sharks are very cool,” he said. “People who swim in New York waters are always swimming with sharks. They are not in the least bit of a threat to human beings.

“People should be incredibly excited and amazed that wildlife still exists here in New York,” Dohlin added.

The Basking shark is a filter-feeder and the second-largest shark, after the whale shark, according to National Geographic.

The Parks Department, however, closed the beach to swimming immediately after the sighting. Dohlin said there were people swimming in the water when the animals were spotted.

“Out of an abundance of safety, Parks closes beaches to swimmers when sharks are in the immediate area,” a Parks Department spokeswoman said in an email. “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.”


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