The beach at Jacob Riis Park is known as the People's Beach, but there was a special cameo from its real natural inhabitant, a shark, last weekend. One swimmer, Mike Epstein, saw it swim by him and admitted, "I was a little freaked out and left the water afterwards."
Based on the photo and videos we received, courtesy of Dorothy Suliga, both the Riverhead Foundation and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation both believe it to be a dogfish. (The dogfish is part of the shark family.) The NY State DEC thought it could be a smooth dogfish, and Riverhead's Rescue Program Director Maxine Montello noted, "They are pretty common around here and are harmless."
In 2014, Dave Taft wrote in the NY Times, "The smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis) never grows much larger than three feet long and can be surprisingly abundant off the beaches along New York City’s Rockaway Peninsula... Dogfish have flattened teeth designed for crushing prey like clams, marine worms, squid and other sea creatures. Though menacing in appearance, they are harmless. In fact, like all sharks, dogfish are boneless and, in evolutionary terms, primitive. A shark’s skeletal structure is composed of cartilage."
The dogfish also apparently prefers shallow waters, which might explain why it made it ashore:
Epstein tells us someone did lead the dogfish shark past the sandbar (at least it wasn't taken from the water and left on the subway, which we've sadly seen before).