Shark scare at Robert Moses beach is just dolphins

Officials lifted an emergency ban on swimming Monday at Robert Moses State Park and nearby beaches after the large fins seen in the water turned out to be a pair of dolphins feeding. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Aug. 12, 2013)

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A shark scare that resulted in a few hundred beachgoers being ordered out of the water at Robert Moses State Park turned out to be much ado about nothing, officials said Monday.

The sighting proved to be two dolphins, swimming near shore, feeding on schools of a bait fish known as bunker.

"A helicopter spotted them about 100 yards south of the water tower," said George Gorman, a spokesman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "It was not a shark. It was two dolphins, feeding on bunker."

Beachgoers at Robert Moses Field 3 were ordered from the water at about 10:50 a.m. after a lifeguard spotted what Gorman said was some sort of "a reasonably large" sea mammal or fish swimming near shore.

Gorman said "no clear fin" was visible or witnessed.

Protocol requires officials to err on the side of caution, and so Gorman said bathers and swimmers at Robert Moses Field 3 were ordered from the water until officials could determine whether the sighting was a safety threat.

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Officials requested a marine or aviation unit from the Suffolk County Police Department to scan the area and Gorman said the helicopter crew found the interlopers were dolphins.

While waiting for that determination, officials notified the operators of neighboring beaches -- the National Seashore, and the towns of Babylon and Oyster Bay -- about the potential threat. It was not clear whether swimmers were ordered from the water at those beaches.

The sighting marked the second time in three days that swimmers were ordered from the water at Robert Moses, Gorman said. On Saturday, a surfer spotted something in the water at Field 2, Gorman said -- and bathers were ordered out of the water for about one hour.

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