Species Remains Unknown; Beach Near West Hampton Dunes Stays Closed

WEST HAMPTON DUNES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Long Island beach remained closed to swimmers Wednesday following shark sightings off the coast.

A section of West Hampton Dunes was originally closed Tuesday afternoon after several sharks were spotted near the shore. Authorities were forced to keep the area closed until further notice after the sharks were spotted again Wednesday.

Authorities are also investigating the possibility of a connection between the sharks and a dead seal found on the beach.

West Hampton Dunes police Sgt. Tim Turner said reports of sharks in the water came in around 3 p.m. Tuesday. There were about 50 people on the beach at the time.

“It took me about three years to go swimming after seeing ‘Jaws.’ This could be another 30 years before I go back in,” beachgoer Steve Schachner told CBS 2’s Katie Fehlinger.

The dorsal fins of six to eight sharks floating on the water’s surface at Cupsogue Beach brought mixed reaction.

“It’s awesome because they’re so close to the beach, but I’m pretty happy I wasn’t in the water at that time,” beachgoer Arnold Perlman said.

“It’s something to see, definitely! It’s pretty exciting!” added Lisa Scholl.

Turner said there were several sharks within 15 feet of the shore line. They looked to be about 18 feet long. Some onlookers thought they were thresher sharks, but officials have yet to determine the breed.

“It is usual to see those types of sharks this time of year because the warmer weather brings in plankton. It’s a little closer to the shoreline and the big fish come in and swallow it,” West Hampton Dunes Mayor Gray Vegliante said.

Vegliante said while the county doesn’t know their breed, these sharks were definitely not acting like predators.

“You’ll see them coming in, turning the water white, thrashing around, throwing fish up, moving the bay fish right onto the beach,” Vegliante said.

Sign posted at Cupsogue Beach, a public beach in Suffolk County in the Village of Westhampton Dunes (credit: Kathleen Maloney/1010 WINS)

Turner said it’s not unusual to see sharks, but not so many at one time.

Local resident Richard Anderson said you have to keep this scare in perspective.

“More people are killed crossing the streets, I suspect, than are killed with sharks,” Anderson told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

He said the ocean is where sharks live, it’s their home, and you have to expect to see them every now and then.

The beach will remain closed for swimming until further notice.

A dead seal is seen on the beach - Westhampton, NY - Jun 1, 2011 (credit: Mike Xirinachs / WCBS 880)

A dead seal is seen on the beach - Westhampton, NY - Jun 1, 2011 (credit: Mike Xirinachs / WCBS 880)

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (184)
  1. tgaile says:

    Pippit, Pippit!!

    1. Ben Garder...posthumously says:

      You know that is some bad hat, Harry.

      1. Marilyn Troklus says:

        lol love it

  2. Bill B says:

    Don’t tell me. The mayor wants to keep the beach open and the police chief wants to close it.

    1. Brandon says:

      hahahaha classic

    2. Jimbo says:

      Same premiss as in Jaws.

      1. headlessjester says:

        Nothing gets by you 😉

    3. Knowonder says:

      These look like basking sharks; harmless giants, super lucky to get to see them up-close.:)

  3. Joan Conner says:

    Quint: Anti-shark cage. You go inside the cage? Cage goes in the water? You go in the water? Shark’s in the water? Our shark? [singing] Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.

    1. Ann Banks says:

      Show me the way to go home, I’m tried and I wanna go to bed……..I had little drink about an hour ago and it’s gone straight to my head…..

      1. Geoff says:

        We’re gonna need a bigger boat

      2. walljasper says:

        Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged wimin

    2. Hiccup says:

      Show me the way to go home
      I’m tired and I want to go to bed
      I had a little drink about an hour ago
      And it went right to my head (or it’s gone straight up to my head)
      Where ever I may roam
      On land or sea or foam
      You will always hear me singing this song
      Show me the way to go home

    3. Quint says:

      Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women.

      1. littlestar says:

        I’ll never put on a life jacket again.

    4. Dave Shaffer says:

      Upper-half of Quint: AAAH! AAAH! (as he slides into the jaws of Jaws)

    5. Mike in NJ says:

      Quint: Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

  4. Armed Patriot says:

    I laughed so hard I spit up… OMG that was funny.

  5. Thurston Howell III says:

    Harmless or not, the water would be chummed with my stool if I saw them whilst swimming.

    1. RufusVonDufus says:

      That’d kill ’em!

  6. Kevin B says:

    They should immediately throw as many lawyers as possible as a way to drive these sharks away.

    1. Ed says:

      The sharks would not attack the lawyers…professional courtesy.

      1. Charles Edgar says:


    2. Gertie B says:

      Sharks led by Jose Baez..

  7. JBnID says:

    And the sharks were still swimming around out there after several hours!! Do these reporters expect them to fly off like ducks??

  8. Martyn Jones says:

    Fin shape suggests Bull or Zambezi. Possibly Shortfin Mako. Not Basking sharks.

    See here; http://www.sportfishermen.com/tag/sharks/

    1. Illogicbuster says:


    2. Mike in NJ says:

      Bull sharks don’t achieve anywhere near that length(18ft.) judging by the shape of those fins, the distance between dorsal and tailfin(“that’s how you measure them when you’re in the water Chief”), in my vast experience watching Shark week for 20 years catching a few and seeing one Big-Freakin’-Shark off Sebastian Fl., I’d have to guess theyt were either Tiger sharks or Great Whites. Since Tigers are more solitary I’d guess great Whites. That seal did Not die of natural causes and “…this was no boating accident!”-Hooper

      1. JulieWright says:

        Great whites are solitary hunters. No great white I’ve ever seen has a dorsal of that shape. And no great white would ever leave a seal carcass uneaten. The seal was probably a victim of boat strike- propellors cause extensive injuries.
        With a plankton bloom in the area, with that low, large dorsal, and the fact that these sharks swam calmly at the surface with no sign of “group” hunting or feeding strategies, it can be safely assumed that these are unoffensive basking sharks.

  9. ScottHB says:

    Nice half-story! The other half: Thresher sharks are no danger to humans. Stay-tuned for tomorrows’ story about wild koala “bears”. Panic in the streets of Sydney!!

    1. Skipper says:

      Show me the way to go home … I’m tired and I wanna go to bed… I had me a drink about an hour ago and its gone to my head… thump…thump ..thump… start the engines!

      1. Tom Dewick says:


    2. Mike in NJ says:

      They aren’t Threshers…Threshers have tails abnormally large in proportion to their bodies, which would stick up over twice as high as their dorsal fins…or flop over a little bit if they weren’t aroused…also Threshers don’t get anywhere near 18 ft. long. Judging by the size of the bite taken out of that seal, and the proximity to shore they’re either Tigersharks or great White. They’re the only sharks that reach that size and feed on seals. BTW, they are ranked number 2 and nomber 3 of the list of sharks most likely to eat people.
      1. Bull Sharks(Zambezie Shark)
      2. Tiger Shark
      3. Great White Shark
      That’s the “other half of the story”

      1. Tamás Elter says:

        In my opinion, the shark on this picture is a Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). The Basking shark is a plancton-feeder and an absolutley harmless lamnid giant. There are social animals, and there live in a small-middle groups, usally in the cold temperate seas. The dorsal fin of the Great white, and also Tiger or Bull have an other shape.

  10. theoldadam says:

    Maybe the good folks from PETA can swim out there and tag a few of them…

    1. Andrew says:

      Great idea! Ill pay their bus fare to the beach!

  11. Mikey says:

    Slow ahead. I can do slow ahead, why don’t you come down here and chum this sh!t.

  12. Clem Cladiddlehopper says:

    Sharks close to shore? Global warming? Great whites? Basking sharks?
    Calling a shark a “basking shark” is like referring to Al Gore as a “noted scientist” and philanthropist. He’s nothing of the sort! I’m not goin’ in that water to inspect the sharks up close & personal for their demographics! I’d rather send a delegation of one (Al Gore) to meet and greet the alleged sharks. Perhaps he could apologize on behalf of a contrite nation of green fools for not respecting the shark’s environmental rights and homeland boundaries. Al might be able to work the ‘crowd’ for a contribution or speaker’s fee. Gore has everything in common with sharks, including a natural tendency to grab a bite of flesh where he finds it. Just ask Tipper!

    1. CHARLES EDGAR says:

      We should send Democrats to swim with them and show their solidarity with the outrage of the blatant prejudice being shown towards them.

    2. Kevin says:

      Only a fool would try to introduce politics into this story.

      And you are one.

  13. JeddMcHead says:

    I thought lawyers traveled in herds not packs.

    1. theoldadam says:

      Actually the proper term for sharks is ‘gaggle’.

      There was a gaggle of sharks off Long Island.

      1. melanie422 says:

        Im pretty sure a “gaggle” is a flock of geese…

      2. Hunn says:

        No, the proper term for 6 to 8 sharks is …. a law firm.

      3. wallyintouch says:

        Actually it’s a ‘sty’ just like cops & pigs. Or sometimes they are called ‘a bunch of sharks’.

  14. ChiefBrody@AmityIsland says:

    But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table that that’s a shark! And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close. And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!

    1. Nemo says:

      Classic post!

    2. Dan says:

      MARCEL: Don’t worry! Wait! These are only lemon sharks!
      This is all part of the course.
      It is like life. Like in relationships.
      They will not attack unless they feel attacked!

      Dave: Marcel, I need you to take the French out of your mouth
      and tell me what to do!

      Marcel: Don’t let them see your fear.

  15. Three Jack says:

    Anthony Weiner with his friends…didn’t know they could swim and shoot crotch photos simultaneously.

  16. Noeaster says:

    I didn’t know Lawyers could swim….

    1. John says:

      Basking sharks. Totally harmless.

      But if they reported that it would be much of a story. better to create mass hysteria than report accurately.

      1. Jeff Campbell says:

        I concur. 1st dorsal profile, range and length, make that highly probable.

      2. Mike in NJ says:

        Basking sharks don’t take huge bites out of seals…Those were greast Whites. Only Great Wgite Sharks and Tiger Sharks get that big(probably because of all the seal eating they do) and eat seals. The world record Great White was caught off of Montauk Long Island…That seal was bitten by a Big Freakin’ Shark…just like the one in the picture. Not a Basking Shark.

      3. JulieWright says:

        Mike- great whites EAT seals, they don’t bite ’em & leave ’em. Given the extensive maritime traffic, that seal was severly injured by a propellor. Thousands of marine mammals are killed by boat strike every year.
        Great whites have a high, sickle shaped dorsal fin and are solitary hunters who remain underwater, coming to surface only when they are”working” a prey.
        These sharks are slow surface swimmers who show absolutely no behavioural traits of great whites. These are basking sharks.

    2. RufusVonDufus says:

      Did they have their hands in their own pockets. If so, they were not lawyers!

      1. littlestar says:

        You’ve been countin’ money all yer life…

  17. Jason says:

    Are they talking about New Yorks’ leglislative body? That’s make sense.

  18. L Ruggiero Frederick says:

    Did anyone notice the quick DHS “if u see something”.. spot using a well groom white fellow leaving a mysterious bag in a subway traiN? STOP TRYING TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT IT IS THE AMERICANS THAT WE SHOULD FEAR! WE SHOULD GREATLY FEAR THE EVER EXPANDINGF DHS THAT WANTS TO DESTROY OUR FREE WAY OF LIFE IN THE NAME OF MONEY

    1. L Ruggiero Frederick says:

      Meant to say in the name of security when it is really all about power and money.

      1. Armed Patriot says:

        Its a story of sharks not DHS. I dont deny your point but is this the proper place to scream “WE SHOULD GREATLY FEAR THE EVER EXPANDINGF DHS”??? Pah…lease.

  19. cubiclecommando says:

    So, the cast from Jersey Shore is already back from Italy?

    1. Andrew says:

      Possibly in the bellies of those sharks . . . would that be too much to hope for?

  20. TivToo says:

    Wow thats some pretty big sharks dude.


  21. john says:

    Just lawyers going for a swim. Nothing to see here.

  22. Joe Blow says:

    Duh, D Griffin is an a$$hole

    1. Peter Rabbit says:


  23. JM says:

    We’re going to need a bigger boat..

  24. Jim H. says:

    I wish Tony Soprano and friends would quit ‘Chumming’ the water at this time of year.

  25. LEL M says:

    Sharkbait is trully worthy of being shark bait, a mind like that should not be a total waste.

  26. amplitude jones says:


    1. Kevin says:

      F#ck you

  27. Captain Steve Zissou says:

    I’m going to go on an overnight drunk. And in 10 day, I’m going to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it.

    1. Johnny Two Toes says:


  28. Constance says:

    I guess I never recovered from seeing Jaws in the theater at the wee age of 13. That movie scared the heck out of me. I’ve never liked swimming in the ocean since. If I were at the beach and saw all of those sharks floating around off there just off the shore line? Nope – I’d be gone. Not a chance that even my big left toe would go in the water. I was traumatized by a movie!!!

    1. The Tin Man says:

      Yeah I know what you mean. I won’t go in the ocean (or on it) for that reason. On a lighter note the Flying Monkeys in “the Wizard of Oz” still scare the &^%$ out of me.

      1. littlestar says:

        Yeah man ! Those monkeys scared me good too !

    2. Curmudgeon says:

      I saw Jaws at age 7 and wouldn’t go into the deep end of a swimming pool until I was twelve. I was sure the shark could get through the big drain grate at the bottom of the pool.

  29. Dawhatsup says:

    Pack of sharks know way ,just a graduating school of dolphins going out partying!

  30. Igor says:

    “We delivered the bomb, though.”

    1. Constance says:

      I had to think about your post for a moment, then I smiled. 🙂

    2. Gilligan says:

      Farewell and adiue to you fair spanish ladies, farewell and adiue to you ladies of spain, for we recevied orders for to sail back to boston and so never more shallI we see you again!

      1. Joel McWaters says:

        Show me the way to go home… I’m tired and I wanna go to bed… I had a little drink about an hour ago, and it’s gone right to my head…

    3. Matt Hooper says:

      -I got the creme de la creme…right here…
      -You’re wearing a sweater?
      -No…Mary Ellen Moffit…she broke my heart.

    4. formerleewarmer says:

      “Hooper drives the boat,Chief”

    5. The Tin Man says:

      God Bless the crew of the USS Indianapolis……..

  31. Ted1203 says:

    This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go

  32. WD Kay says:

    Nuke ’em. Or we need a shrk czar….

  33. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    Looks to me that they are 17 feet long and 14 feet from the shore.

  34. anymay says:

    I thought wolves ran in packs and fish ran in schools. Why are sharks allowed to be different? It’s discrimination I tell you!

  35. mirted says:

    The sharks remained in the water? Why, how unusual? I’d think they’d get out for some sun once in a while. What kind of sharks were they? Brain dead journalism.
    You should write for the White House Press Corps.

  36. TheMIghtyQuint says:

    I value my neck a lot more than 3000 bucks, chief! I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him…and kill him…for TEN!

    1. Mayor Larry says:

      uh…thank you, Mr. Quint. We’ll…take it under advisement.

  37. Andrew S says:

    They’re basking sharks…harmelss and not uncommon when the water is calm like that…plankton eaters with no teeth. Leave it to the media to cause a panic

    1. Robbob says:

      I’m with you. More than likely basking sharks. But harmless shark does not make good headlines.

      1. Reality Check says:

        Those are white sharks, my friend.

      2. Joel McWaters says:

        No Reality, those are not White sharks. #1) The Dorsal fin is not that of a white shark. #2) The headline would have screamed “WHITE SHARKS! DEAR GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! had it been a white shark. Never miss an opportunity like that.

      3. formerleewarmer says:

        i think their card sharks…its the only kind not in anyones replies….if anyone here was an expert they would know..they could be loan sharks.

      4. JulieWright says:

        With large, low dorsal fins & the caudal fins breaking the water, these are most assuredly basking sharks. The fact that there’s been a recent plankton bloom is more proof and basking sharks will feed in groups. The larger predatory sharks that can attain those sizes are solitary hunters.
        As usual, the media has sensationalised the presence of this group of gentle, inoffensive sharks. Even the authorities have over-reacted, stating openly that they don’t know what species this is,yet are quite happy propagating their “scare-tactics.”

  38. kenneth grimshaw says:

    Must Read: The Greatest White Shark Story Ever Told!
    “My Friend Michale” a true story about the Real Jaws.

    Fined it at your nearest King Kullen now.

  39. Barrell Rider says:

    Thew epilogue to this story is that officials were embarassed when they realized it was just a lawyers’ group beach outing.

    1. blondie says:


  40. Ed Foley says:

    Clearly legislation is needed to end this crisis.

    1. LEL MN says:

      It’s because of man caused global climate change and the willful destruction of natural habitat these sharks seek refuge in the coastal waters.
      …….. then again, like a native on St.Martin island told me when Iinquiredd about the presence of shark in Simpson’s Bay – “It’s a big ocean, they can go anywhere they want.”

  41. Emerald says:

    Sharks in the ocean! More proof of global warming! Whale Sharks are harmless.

  42. heyheyheywotisay says:

    Thresher shark is fabulous on the backyard grill. Problem solved.

    1. Tiberius says:

      They are poisonous to eat because they urinate through their skin. The only “problem” that would solve is your stupidity,

      1. UyeahU says:

        Have eaten shark before, you simply soak the meat and do a few water changes and then no problem, BTW Mako is considered a restaurant item and commands a high price. Learn before you blather.

  43. sharkbit says:

    Send in the LAWYERS now! Oh wait… they won’t attack their own kind.

  44. rg says:

    wow sharks in the ocean? whats next.

    dont they know rich people dont like them? how dare they

    1. formerleewarmer says:

      theres gambling in this casino! Im shocked!

  45. kakakeivn says:

    a pack of black sharks. surprise surprise

    1. HARLEM GOING HAM says:


  46. sharkbaitisconfused says:

    How would eating self reliant taxpayers save other taxpayers money?

    1. too many fools says:

      sharkbait, you are an idiot

    2. blondie says:

      while I agree, the comment makes no sense, in reality, most very wealthy people don’t pay very much in taxes. They hide it all in hedge funds and pay very expensive estate planning lawyers to help them avoid taxes. It’s how they STAY very wealthy.

  47. WETSUIT says:


  48. Jx says:

    Wait, how does hefty property tax payers not being alive to pay them save money?

  49. Rhiannon says:

    Nice fishy! Just remember when going in the water; that is their home, we become the guests. 18 footer? Yes, it is quite possible. The one in the top photo is probably clloser to 12 – 13 feet (judging on the distance between the dorsal and tail fins). I’l stick to the pool for the next few days.

  50. Ashlee Gabrielle Tester says:

    18 foot sharks? Is that a typo?

    1. wlly b. says:

      Just misinterpreted. There were 18 sharks, each a foot long.

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