Beach-goers in Long Island are facing a summer of terror as video footage captured by drones shows a 50-strong shiver of sharks circling in the waters near the shore.
The alarming footage was taken after a 15-year-old girl was reportedly bitten by a shark in the leg at Robert Moses State Park in Suffolk County on Monday, July 3.
She was one of five swimmers who were attacked by sharks on July 3 and 4 off Long Island, according to local authorities. The other victims included a 15-year-old boy who was bitten on his foot while surfing off Fire Island’s Kismet Beach.
A 47-year-old man suffered cuts to his knee while swimming in chest-deep water off Quogue Village Beach, and two more people were injured at Pines Beach and Cherry Grove.
“There were about 50 sand sharks that we saw,” said George Gorman, Long Island Parks Regional Director, as reported by the New York Post.
‘We are now more vigilant than ever’
None of the injuries are said to be life-threatening, but they have sparked fear and anxiety among locals and tourists who flock to the popular beaches every summer. Following the attack on the 15-year-old girl, swimmers were banned to enter the water for an hour and a half.
Besides that, the sighting of a 10-foot shark on Thursday at the same State Park forced officials to keep people out of the water. It was to ensure “that swimmers are safe.” “We are now more vigilant than ever,” said Gorman before adding “We have drones in the sky that watch over the waters.
We have lifeguards on WaveRunners that watch over the waters,” as reported by Daily Mail. The drones, which make three sweeps each day, provide an additional vantage point unavailable to lifeguards on the beach, said Cary Epstein, a lifeguard supervisor who pilots the drones at Jones Beach.
‘You could see it, no questions asked’
When you’re up in an elevated lifeguard station or a lifeguard stand, you can see up and you can see out, but you can’t see straight down,” he said.
“When we do have sharks that are eating on these fish, it’s very, very clear to us. You could see it, no questions asked. Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there,” he added.
The increase in shark sightings and encounters might suggest a healthier ecosystem, some experts say. Cleaner waters allow the small fish that sharks feed on to flourish. More small fish swimming closer to shore means more sharks nipping at their tails.
“Despite the nervousness over what’s going on right now in New York, people swim in the ocean every day, and they have for centuries,” said Gorman. “But we do have to remember that we are cohabitating, and this is their house,” he added.
‘This year, we’ve already had five bites’
Prior to 2022, New York had only recorded a dozen unprovoked bites. Over the last decade, there were just four people bitten by sharks, according to data compiled by the International Shark Attack File, which tracks shark attacks around the world.
Last year, eight people reported being bitten by sharks swimming in the shallows off Long Island’s beaches. “This year, we’ve already had five bites,” Gorman said. “And the season has kind of just begun,” he added. Governor Kathy Hochul announced in May the addition of 10 drones to its squadron, bringing the total to 18 that can be used to monitor shark activity along her state’s beaches.
“With New Yorkers and visitors alike preparing to enjoy our beautiful Long Island beaches all summer long, their safety is our top priority,” said Hochul before adding “This year we are taking further action to protect beach-goers by increasing surveillance to monitor for shark activity near beaches off the South Shore.”
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