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Shark sightings reported at Coney Island Beach, official says

Due to reports of shark sitghtings on Tuesday,

Due to reports of shark sitghtings on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, stretches of Coney Island beach closed and opened multiple times, New York City parks officials said. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Due to reports of shark sightings Tuesday, stretches of Coney Island Beach have been closed and reopened “multiple times,” according to a New York City parks official.

As of around 1:30 p.m., the beach was opened to swimmers, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Parks and Recreation said.

“Out of an abundance of safety, Parks closes beaches to swimmers when sharks are in the immediate area,” according to a parks department statement.

As for exactly what was spotted, Jon Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium, said that based on eyewitness reports and video and photos that he saw, he believes it indeed was a shark.

With such sightings, which are rare, he said, it’s hard to be definitive as to what type, as, unlike porpoise and dolphin, sharks don’t have to spend time at the surface. One of his staffers thought it was a basking shark.

Regardless, he said that he thinks the parks department “was very wise to act with caution” in closing the beach to swimmers. That’s even as the threat to humans is very, very small, he said.

It’s useful for people to know that, with some 25 species of sharks in metropolitan area waters, “in a very real way, every time you swim, you’ve been swimming with sharks.” Under some scenarios they can be dangerous, he said, but mostly “they’re not interested in you.”

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