Schools of sharks, just like schoolchildren, occasionally need a field trip to break up the monotony of memorizing important dates from the Great Plankton Wars. And so, yesterday, one school of sharks headed to Coney Island to ride the Thunderbolt—unfortunately, they scared the hell out of a bunch of humans, and the beach was briefly evacuated.

Shark Alert at Coney #coney16

A photo posted by Lucien Zayan (@theinvisibledog) on

Sharks were spotted just off the shore at Coney Island yesterday morning, prompting officials to close the beach between 10th and 16th streets intermittently between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"Suddenly we saw them—I saw at least four, but it seems there were much more than that," Lucien Zayak, who got a video of dorsal fins in the water, told NBC. He told Brooklyn Eagle, "There was no panic. There wasn’t an attack. The woman from the park said it was a big one. I’ve never [seen] a shark except in a movie, and in the movie, they were pretty big. I [had] never seen a shark in my life. That was really the first time.”

Sharks Alert at #coneyisland #shark #coney16

A video posted by Lucien Zayan (@theinvisibledog) on

Though it's not super common for sharks to come close to shore here, Jon Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium, told NBC the visit is likely due to cleaner waters. "There's a lot of good momentum that's going on in conservation, and we should be thankful for that and see this as a success," he told the station.

Responding to an inquiry from Brooklyn Paper, the city Parks Department could not immediately say how recently city beaches have been closed due to shark sightings. "We don’t have records that go that far back — suffice it to say, it seems to have been a long time," the spokesperson said.

Sharks do not typically hunt or attack humans, though sometimes they can mistake dangling limbs for fish and briefly latch on. Still, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points out, "more people are killed each year by electrocution by Christmas tree lights than by shark attacks." If you see a shark in the water, it's best to get out, and officials with the NY Aquarium say the beaches were closed yesterday "out of an abundance of caution."

The Aquarium provided us with the following statement:

Today’s reported shark sightings off Coney Island are a reminder that New York City and its waterways are home to fascinating marine wildlife. A vast ocean wilderness literally laps against the city’s shores, and we share these waters with whales, seals, sea turtles, and yes, sometimes sharks. We agree with the decision by New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation to close beaches out of an abundance of caution and respect for these animals.

As people watch from shore we hope they will remember that sightings like these are opportunities for all New Yorkers to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and diversity of the ocean.

We've reached out with some follow-up questions about how scared we should be and will update when we hear back.