Sunfish, Not Shark, Causes Marshfield Beach Evacuation

Beaches in Marshfield have reopened after reports of a shark sent swimmers fleeing from the water, yet a search of the area has turned up no sign of dangerous marine life, according to officials.

A four mile stretch of beach between Rexhame and Brant Rock was temporarily closed on Wednesday afternoon due to the sighting, NBC News reports. Officials called beachgoers out of the water after the shark reports came in around 2 p.m. ET. as they monitored for any sign of the animal. After about an hour with no sign of the shark, police reopened the beaches.

Mark Patterson, the Harbormaster in nearby Scituate, attributed the shark sighting to a different marine animal, according to the Boston Globe: a seven-foot-long sunfish. Beachgoers who sounded the alarm reported that a “fin was sticking out” of the water, and while that imagery is commonly associated with sharks, it can also apply to sunfish, according to Patterson. “Sometimes people mistake it for a shark,” he said, pointing out that sunfish “do have fins,” which can resemble a shark’s. He also noted that sunfish can often be found basking near the surface of the water. In those moments, they could potentially be misidentified as a large shark.

Several reports of of a shark thrashing about 150 yards offshore were received, according to Marshfield Police Chief Phillip Tavares. He added that the sightings occurred in the Fieldston neighborhood.

The scare comes just two days after a shark prompted officials to evacuate beaches in Duxbury, Massachusetts. As The Inquisitr reported, officials intervened when a 15-foot-long great white shark was spotted near shore. The beach was closed for about two hours while harbormaster boats attempted to force the shark away from the shore and into deeper water. At least four other great white sharks have been spotted off the coast of Cape Cod this month, which is 40 miles to the south of Duxbury.

[Image via Boston Globe]