Shark Spotted off East Hampton Village Beach

A shark was spotted in the water off Georgica Beach on Thursday, close enough that the lifeguard could see it without binoculars. Independent/David Baumrind

Update July 31: Village Beaches Closed Friday Due to Shark Sighting 

Originally, July 30: The ocean beaches in East Hampton Village were closed to swimming on Thursday afternoon after a shark sighting, following shark sightings further west off Long Island shoreline.

“There was a confirmed sighting this afternoon at Georgica Beach and out of caution the rest of the Village beaches were closed to swimming,” Becky Molinaro Hansen, the village administrator, said.

Mayor Rick Lawler said a lifeguard on duty at Georgica Beach spotted the shark. He was not sure of exactly how close the sighting was to shore, but said, “It was close enough without using binoculars they could tell it was a shark,” he said.

The lifeguard estimated it measured eight feet based on the dorsal fin to the and tail fin, according to the mayor.

The eagle-eyed lifeguard was watching a school of dolphin when there was a school of bunker fish with a shark in their midst, the mayor said.

The shark was headed east and made it about half way between Georgica and Main beaches, when the fins disappeared. They were no longer able to spot it.

The waters were immediately cleared of all swimmers and they were instructed to stay out of the water. Lifeguards alerted all beaches.

John Ryan Jr., the chief lifeguard at the East Hampton Town beaches, said he was aware of the sighting.  There was no reported shark sighting at town beaches. “There are sharks in the ocean. But we didn’t have any sighting of sharks. We didn’t close the beaches,” he said, adding, “The bait ball never exited the village. If they come to our area, it’s a different story.”

Ryan said that generally schools of fish are out about 135 to 200 yards out, but they can move closer to shore.

“We’ll see what happens,” Lawler said. “We will certainly be cognizant of the fact of the sighting today and then make a determination based on what the water looks like tomorrow. We may keep the beaches closed tomorrow,” he said.

Sharks were sighted earlier this week in Long Beach, Point Lookout and Lido Beach West, according to Newsday.

Everyone is on high alert following news that a woman swimming off the coast of Maine was attacked by a great white shark and died Monday in the first-ever fatal shark attack in that state.

There are many species of sharks in New York waters. According to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, they can range in size from four feet, such as dogfish sharks, up to 40 feet, such as the basking shark.

Anyone who sees a shark close to New York waters should alert authorities, but is also asked to fill out a DEC survey.

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