Sunfish Sighting Causes Shark Scare at Misquamicut State Beach

A possible shark sighting at Misquamicut State Beach in Rhode Island Friday was more likely the fin of an ocean sunfish, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. 

The beach manager, lifeguards and beachgoers saw a fin near the buoy marking the swim area about 50 yards from shore, right in front of the beach tower, around 9:45 a.m., and swimmers were alerted to get out of the water, according to a statement DEM provided to WJAR in Rhode Island. 

Maritime Aquarium Dive Safety Officer Brendan DeGrim let us tag along as he took a dive into the shark tank.

People were then restricted from going into water that was deeper than ankle high. 

DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries initially believed that the fin most likely was that of a Mako shark, based off still photos. Upon reviewing video footage, experts said the fin moved, like that of a sunfish. A shark's dorsal fin is stationary.

Another fin was spotted around 10:30 a.m., much farther out. 

DEM said the policy is to keep beachgoers out of the water for an hour after a sighting. 

Misquamicut, which is just over the state border, is a popular beach for Connecticut residents. There are several species of sharks that travel through the Rhode Island waters.

Swimming is allowed again.

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