Shark sighting delights some

    Lifeguards on the Jersey shore yesterday briefly closed beaches to swimmers in response to several shark sightings near shore.

    Shark sightings at the Jersey shore yesterday pulled swimmers and surfers from the water for several hours. While the animal may have frightened some, it delighted others.
    (Photo: Flickr/Lisa GH)

    Surfers and lifeguards spotted at least two sharks along Ocean County beaches this week. Lifeguard sergeant Jim Rankin from Seaside Park says he saw the five foot animal slowly cruise northward, about 25 yards from the beach. It’s the first time in his 12 years on the beach that he’s seen a shark.

    Rankin: The thing is, they’re always out there, but the fact that we’ve seen one now puts our lifeguards and obviously the patrons on the beach a little bit on edge.

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    Sharks are a relatively rare sight for beach-goers.

    We treat a sighting of a shark as terrific. As a bonus.

    Marie Levine is the founder of a Princeton-based conservation organization called Shark Research Institute. She says the roughly five-foot-long animals are probably sandbar sharks, also called brown sharks. They are the most common in-shore species of shark off of New Jersey, but they’re usually active at dusk and dawn — not 10 AM.

    Levine: What that probably tells you is that they’re not hunting, they’re just cruising around enjoying being a shark.

    Levine says the sandbar shark’s numbers have been declining, because their oversized dorsal fins make them popular seafood dishes. The sharks pose little threat to humans.

    [The original version of this story had an incorrect name for the SRI]

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