Shark! City closes Coney beaches after predator sightings

Jaws! The city closed Coney Island Beach because people spotted basking sharks like this one off its shores.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Come on in, the water is fine!

The Parks Department has re-opened Coney Island Beach this afternoon after closing it earlier today because sharks were swimming dangerously close to the shore. It was the first time in recent memory that the city has banned bathing because of the swimming killing machines, officials said.

“We don’t have records that go that far back — suffice it to say, it seems to have been a long time,” said Parks Department spokesman Sam Biederman.

Big schools of feeder fish attracted what appeared to be basking sharks — a filter feeder that can grow up to 20 feet long — strangely close to Coney bathers, according to New York Aquarium director Jon Dohlin.

“What we think brought them in so close — which is unusual — is schools of small forage fish sighted along with these sharks,” he said.

The fish are not dangerous to humans, but the city has cordoned off the coast to play it safe, Biederman said.

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

Area anglers and litoralists have been predicting to this paper all year that a booming crop of bunker fish will bring meat-eaters — including sharks, whales, and seals — within striking distance of Brooklyn’s beaches.

Fisherman plucked 17 thresher sharks from the seas near Sheepshead Bay during a tournament last month.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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