Shark Sightings In Hamptons Prompts Beach Closures
Shark sightings off a Hamptons beach along the eastern Long Island coast has prompted officials to close two county beaches to swimming until further notice.

PIX 11 News' cameras caught a glimpse of the 10-foot sharks swimming along Cupsogue Beach County Park, near West Hampton Dunes Wednesday afternoon.

PIX 11 spoke exclusively with George Burgess, Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and considered by many to be the foremost expert on shark attacks. "I asked one of my biologists in the lab to look at your photo. She confirmed id as a Basker," Burgess said. He later confirmed the identification with video from

The Port Jefferson native said that although "Basker" sharks are the second biggest they pose no threat to humans, "They are large sharks with particularly no aggressiveness to them. They are perfectly harmless." Burgess, who spoke to PIX 11 while traveling to Cancun to investigate a recent rash of shark attacks near the tourist destination added, "I would be shocked if it's a great white." Burgess did add that great whites off Long Island are not uncommon. In fact, according to Burgess, legendary fisherman Frank Mundus out of Montauk was the real life model for the character "Sam Quint" in the 1975 blockbuster Jaws.

"Presently, there remains four sharks in the water" in Westhampton, Tracy Bellone, Deputy Commissioner for Suffolk County Parks, told PIX 11 News Wednesday.

Bellone said they were initially swimming about one and a half miles west of the active, bathing area, but PIX 11 cameras saw the sharks surfing in the Cupsogue waters where swimmers normally frolic and large signs warn beach goers of the uninvited guests.

"No Bathing Due to Shark Sightings," reads one sign.

Bellone told PIX 11, "We have closed Cupsogue Beach County Park, as well as Smith Point County Park in Moriches." She said officials from the Riverhead Marine Foundation were on site trying to figure out the species of shark.

Meanwhile, Rob West, a UPS driver, came to check out the sharks at Cupsogue Beach on his lunch hour.

"I can't believe how huge they are," he said, "and I want to know why they're staying here so long."

June Izzo, who just graduated from Marist College, was celebrating her 22nd birthday on the beach, shark watching. Her fellow graduate, Christine Fitzgerald, remarked, "I'm really scared of sharks, so maybe this will help me overcome my fear." She, however, wasn't planning on getting in the water anytime soon.

Not everyone was impressed by the patrolling dorsal fins, however. A 23-year-old surfer at Smith Point Beach on Fire Island told PIX11 News the reason he paddled out without fear was that "there was a whole lot of ocean, not that many sharks, so not a big risk."