A shark scare forced swimmers out of the water at Jones Beach late Friday morning before lifeguards were able to verify the sighting was really just a harmless skate, a state park official said.

The reported sighting was made before noon and resulted in a ban on swimming at Field 6 and the East Bathhouse, state parks spokesman George Gorman said.

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Gorman said that authorities at Jones Beach were eventually able to confirm the sighting as a skate, a large flat fish with a long, whiplike tail that are similar to manta rays.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office of Northeast Fisheries said skates are common in northeastern waters. Gorman said that, after officials verified it was a skate, swimmers were allowed back in the water at the beaches at about 12:30 p.m.