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Shark scare forces swimmers out of Misquamicut Beach

WESTERLY, R.I. --  Beach-goers at Misquamicut had quite a scare Friday morning after shark fins were spotted in the water twice.

The good news - officials later determined it was not a shark but in fact, an Ocean Sunfish.

"Actually, I would've been kind of excited. I would've liked to have seen that!" said Matthew Guarino of New Britain.

"I wasn't scared. I mean, I wouldn't mind seeing the shark but just don't want to swim with it," said Jamie Dungfelder of Hebron.

Officials said a beach manager spotted a fin with their binoculars at 9:45 a.m. People were immediately told to get out of the water.

Another fin was spotted at 10:30 a.m. and again, people got out of the water but by 11:30, everything returned to normal.

Officials initially believed it was a Mako Shark because fishermen have caught Mako's in their fishnet before. What eventually led them to decide it was not a shark at all was the fin.

They said the Ocean Sunfish's dorsal fin did move whereas a shark's fin does not.

"It is a very strange looking fish. It kind of swims vertically with a large fin that sticks out at the top. So I could see why you would think it was a shark and another fin on the bottom ... kind of very strange shape and it sort of swims along with its fin in the air," added Guarino.

Dungfelder said his girlfriend spotted the fin and a school of fish swimming away thinking it really was a shark.

"I mean, probably must’ve been a few thousand fish jump out of the water. Right about lifeguard number 6 straight out is an orange buoy in the water and we saw a little bit of fin out there," added Dungfelder.

Beach anxiety is not unreasonable given the spike in fin sightings in Cape Cod. A video captured by Massachusetts State Police showed a shark swimming just feet from the shore. Some beaches have even temporarily closed soon because of the frequent shark presence.

Officials said from here on out, they plan on using video drones at state beaches to ensure they deliver accurate information out to the public.

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