Bill George

Bill George

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RI "Shark" Was Actually This Harmless Sunfish

An Ocean Sunfish (mola mola) swims to th...

Photo: Getty Images

FaceBook was buzzing all day on Tuesday with reports of a "shark" sighting off Narragansett. The TV stations even ran video from a beachgoer showing that ominous dorsal fin of Great White. Some boaters even "confirmed" the shark sighting. In fact, Roger Wheeler Beach and Salty Brine Beach banned swimming for about an hour.

BUT....It turns out the hysteria was for naught. What people really saw was an Ocean Sunfish, also known as a "molo mola." The Ocean Sunfish looks nothing like those Sunfish you catch at local ponds. The mola mola can grow to 10 feet long and over 2,000 pounds. Apparently they are often confused for sharks. According to National Geographic, the Ocean Sunfish can be easily differentiated from a shark by the way it flops its dorsal fin from side to side. The fish is usually found in tropical water, but warming waters along the east coast have brought many new species to New England waters in recent years.

So the next time, you see a big fin, you may not need to panic. On second thought, go ahead and panic, just in case. Your Facebook friends will love it.

photo: Getty Images


A diver wearing a Santa Claus costume feeds a sunfish to attract visitors at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Japan. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

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