By Mike Busch 8-18-2021
If you have been to the beach this summer, odds are you have seen some big schools of bunker (Menhaden) just offshore. While it is not uncommon, this year they seem to be thicker than normal and attract a variety of fish and marine mammals close to shore to feed. A few weeks ago, I was at Davis Park and filmed a few sharks and Cow Nose Rays just off the beach. I have also seen reports of Striped Bass, Tuna, and Humpback Whales as well.
Last Sunday morning, I was watching the Fireislandandbeyond.com Beach and Surf Cams that stream from the top of the Davis Park Casino Bar and Cafe and noticed some big bunker schools close to the beach with occasional big splashes and knew I had to get over there and see what was on them. I got to the beach around Noon but unfortunately, they had moved off the beach and were split into much smaller pods. I tried to take a look with my drone but the mid-day light made it very difficult to see through all the glare.
At this time I figured I missed the opportunity and put the drone away and went for a swim. Around 2:00 p.m. I started noticing the bait move in and create a massive, dark cloud of bunker approach and cover almost the entire beach. As I got my drone ready, the lifeguards were alerted to sharks and quickly cleared the beach of swimmers. In the photos and video above, you can see almost the entire crowded beach standing on the shore to see the bunker and occasional splash of the feeding sharks.
Once I got the drone up I was shocked to see sharks all over, both inside and outside the bunker. I couldn’t tell at the time due to the glare but around the 1:00 minute mark in the video above, you can count over 50 sharks in one 20 second pass-over part of the school. I wasn’t sure at the time but I spoke with a couple of shark experts that were pretty confident that they were spinner sharks, very similar to blacktips but known for jumping out of the water and spinning while feeding. These sharks can grow to between 6 and 10 feet long and can leap up to 20 feet in the air. While they certainly have sharp teeth to rip up their prey, they are not considered dangerous to humans. I got some decent close-up shots starting on page 3. Could this be the reason we didn’t see much of a Striped Bass run this year?
I have a relationship with DailyMail.com and gave them exclusive rights to share my video. Click here to see their full story with interviews from some witnesses here. The video should be featured on Good Morning America this morning around 7:30 a.m.