Visitors to Rockaway Beach in New York received a scare last weekend as what appeared to be a large shark materialized in the face of a wave.
“Some say shark, some say other. But as the man says in the video – you might want to back up!” reads a video description posted this week by the Rockaway Times, which posted the footage to Facebook on Tuesday.
A child watches from water’s edge, while the surf zone appears to have been evacuated. A voice in the clip says, “Nope, that’s shark – you might want to back up!”
The post sparked debate over whether the critter is, in fact, is a shark.
Artie Raslich, a photographer for Gotham Whale and a Rockaway native, shared the video with a description that reads, in part: “I think it might be a Bull or it could be a White but no matter what it is, it has teeth… lotsa teeth.”
On the Rockaway Times post, opinions were divided. Bull shark, great white shark, Mola mola (sunfish), and butterfly ray were among the guesses through Thursday, as the number of video shares topped 1,000.
But while nobody will ever know with 100-percent certainty, it’s quite possible that the water was safe to enter.
One shark expert reached by GrindTV declined to speculate, but another seemed certain that the creature was a harmless Mola mola.
“Had that fish been at any other angle, it might have been doubtful… but it’s a perfect [Mola mola] profile in the wave,” said Drew Scerbo, a marine biologist and scientific adviser to the White Shark Advocacy Group.
The Mola mola is the world’s largest bony fish (weights to 5,000 pounds). It’s found in tropical and temperate seas around the world and feeds mostly of sea jellies, tiny fish and algae.
Scerbo’s assessment is bound to meet the approval of Steve Fernandez, who commented on the Rockaway Times Facebook page: “It’s a Mola mola, or sunfish, 1000000 percent. You can clearly see the floppy fin and its side profile as the wave breaks. Safe to swim with.”
Not convinced was Jonas Raider, who wrote: “That’s a great white shark. I don’t go in the ocean anymore. This is why. If you go in … you get eaten. Stay out of the water!”
Staying out of the water, of course, is the only sure-fire way to avoid sharks.
More about shark scares on GrindTV