Screen capture of finned fish swimming in the water off Iron Pier beach last night. Video by Alfred Allen.

People at Iron Pier beach last night were surprised by the appearance of an unusual visitor: a fish that appeared to be a shark in the shallow waters near the shore.

Alfred Allen of Jamesport, a licensed fishing guide and the owner of Long Island Stripers Surfcasting Guide Services captured the visitor on video.

“It was about 7 o’clock and I went to Iron Pier like I do most evenings,” Allen said. “Off the west side of the boat ramp I saw what I thought was a fin. And I said, ‘nah— can’t be.’ I discounted it as some sort of debris in the water. But then it came past the ramp and headed toward the roped off area,” Allen said.

He and a few other fishermen who were at the beach started yelling, “Shark!” and people in the water ran out.

The fish was in water only about three feet deep, Allen said.

“I’ve fished Iron Pier for 33 years,” he said. “I’ve never seen a shark there.”

“There was no bait in the water. It wasn’t feeding. My guess is it was looking for a place to die, to beach itself. It kept coming into the shallows,” Allen said.

The fish then swam westward. It was hanging around near a jetty, Allen said, then just went out of sight.

“I went down there this morning to take a look. The water was calm and beautiful,” Allen said.

Iron Pier Beach is a beach operated by the Town of Riverhead and is staffed with life guards and attendants.

Riverhead parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne said the lifeguards at the town’s Sound beaches are on alert.

“We’re just going to monitor the situation. Nothing has been spotted by our staff,” Coyne said. He had not yet seen the video but speculated that the fish might not be a shark at all. “It could be a dolphin,” he said. “We’re definitely keeping an eye out.”

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.