Chiseled lifeguard Marisu Mironescu, 39, of Brooklyn, said in Tuesday editions of The Daily News that he saw about 75 to 100 people circling the shark off Coney Island's beach and "bugging out."
"They were holding onto it and some people were actually hitting him, smacking his face," said Mironescu, who has been a lifeguard since 1985 had never dealt with a shark until Monday's rescue. "Well, I wasn't going to let them hurt the poor thing," he said.
He grabbed the largely harmless fish in his arms and carried it, backstroking out to sea, where he let it go.
The shark rescue served as a fish-tale to a holiday weekend that began with a scare Saturday, when a 5-foot (1.52-meter) thresher shark washed up on Rockaway Beach, sending hundreds of swimmers out of the water. About 10 blocks of the beach were also closed down for hours on Labor Day weekend.
Several beachgoers pushed the shark, which was not considered threatening to humans, back into the water. But the fish washed ashore dead on Sunday.
"We had a little bit of a punctuation mark at the end of summer with 'Jaws' junior showing up and frightening people," said Adrian Benepe, the city Parks Commissioner.
More than 15 million people visited the city beaches and outdoor pools this summer.