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LI fishermen say they encountered thresher shark near Zachs Bay

Pat Crowley and Matt Wunderlich were fishing near Zachs Bay Sunday morning when they heard splashing behind them. When they turned to look they saw the long tail of a thresher shark thrashing in water just two-and-a-half feet deep, said Crowley, 21, of Amityville. Wunderlich, 30, also of Amityville, estimates the shark was at least 6 feet long and had wandered into the bay chasing bunker. Their video has been viewed more than 43,000 times on Facebook since it was posted Sunday morning, June 10, 2018. Credit: Pat Crowley

Fishermen Pat Crowley and Matt Wunderlich were in their boat Sunday morning near Zachs Bay in Wantagh when they heard splashing behind them.

Turning, they saw the long tail of what they believe was a thresher shark whipping back and forth in shallow water, said Crowley, 21, of Amityville.

“We were freaking out a little. We didn’t really believe what we were looking at,” said Crowley, who spotted the shark about 9 a.m. “It’s pretty rare.”

Wunderlich, 30, also of Amityville, estimates the shark was at least 6 feet long and had come into the bay chasing bunker. It even swam close enough to nudge their boat, scaring Dude, Crowley’s black dog, he said.

Thresher sharks are named for their long, scythe-like tails, which they use to stun fish before preying on them, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, and they’re found in temperate waters around the world.

In summer, thresher sharks inhabit waters from the south shore of Long Island up to Cape Cod, according to Tobey Curtis, a shark researcher for NOAA.

But it’s very uncommon to see thresher sharks in bays like the one spotted by Crowley and Wunderlich, said Curtis, who confirmed the shark they saw was a thresher.

Tthe two men tried following the shark and even thought about catching it, but decided to record the encounter instead, Crowley said. The video had been viewed more than 58,000 times on Facebook after being posted Sunday morning.

“We thought we’d better record it, ’cause no one’s gonna believe that we saw a shark in the bay,” Crowley said.

The shark remained near them for about 15 minutes before swimming back toward open water.

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