Top Stories 2019: Shark sightings in Long Island Sound

2019 was “Shark Year” off Long Island Sound on the North Fork.

Within a two-week period in July, two sharks were sighted — and videotaped — swimming close to shore.

The first shark sighting occurred July 15 off Iron Pier Beach in Northville.

The shark was spotted by a few dozen beachgoers at about 7 p.m., and was video recorded by Alfred Allen of Jamesport, a local fishing guide.

He said the shark appeared to be disoriented and possibly looking for a place to die.

On July 29 at about 4 p.m., another shark was sighted in the Sound, swimming close to shore off Breakwater Park in Mattituck. It also was captured on video. Donna Schlegel of Mattituck said it appeared to be five to six feet long, and people scrambled to get out of the water, although the fish didn’t react when they offered it bunker. It appeared to be heading west.

And in late August, fisherman John Skinner of Greenport caught a shark in the Sound near Horton Point and got it on video it before quickly throwing it back in the water, as required.

Chris Paparo of Calverton, manager of Stony Brook Southampton’s Marine Sciences Center, who also studies sharks as part of the Shark Research and Education Program at the South Fork Natural History Museum, said the shark in Mattituck was a brown shark, which used to be abundant in the Sound.

He said spotting the shark was good thing and a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said that the way to differentiate a shark fin from a dolphin fin is that the shark glides at the surface, while a dolphin goes up and down, as it must come up for oxygen. The shark has a straight fin, while the dolphin’s fin is curved.