Lifeguards put to rest rumors of a shark bite in East Hampton waters, though they confirmed there have been a few reported shark sightings close to the ocean shoreline in recent weeks, following three shark findings in the bay.
The latest came Tuesday evening, about 100 yards off shore in front of in Montauk, according to general manager and CEO Paul Monte. He said no one was harmed.
The town's chief lifeguard John Ryan Jr. said he responded to a report of a shark in the ocean waters in front of the Maidstone Club three weeks ago. He said someone on the second floor of the clubhouse spotted a shark, though he remained on the beach for about an hour and never saw it.
Last week, a shark was reported a couple hundred yards off in East Hampton Village. Ed McDonald, who manages all five of the village beaches, said a lifeguard was doing a workout on a jet ski when he spotted a large fin in the water. It seemed to be heading east, but no one ever saw it again. He considers it an unsubstanted report.
"That's the way very often it is," McDonald said. Having worked at the village beaches off and on since the 1970s, he said sometimes the fins of ocean sunfish are mistaken for sharks. Sunfish have decreased in numbers over the years, but it is still a possibility that that's wha the lifeguard saw, he said. He noted a sunfish's fin appears out of the water and sort of flops over, while a shark's fin will remain upward.
Baymen caught between July 21 and Aug. 2.
Warm waters may be to blame for bringing sharks closer to shore. McDonald says the temperatures are in the mid-70s now. Over the years, he's seen thew water get warmer and warmer.
"There are sharks everywhere. It's always a concern," he said.
But, still, he said, "I'm always very skeptical. There are a lot of times these sighting turn out to be dolphins, sunfish, or debris floating the water."
Most of all, he doesn't want swimmers to be fearful. There's never been a shark attack on Long Island, he said.
"Guards are aware and they keep a watchful eye. It's one of the reasons we swim in protected waters, right?"
Schools of bluefish in a feeding frenzy can actually pose more danger, giving nasty bites to a human passing by, he said.