LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — After multiple shark sightings off the shores of Long Island this week, red flags were up at Jones Beach on Thursday morning signaling no one’s allowed in the water.
Some beachgoers said they were scared to go into the ocean.
“If I see a shark, I will book it to the next town,” Andreija Emmerson said.
When they eventually got the green light, some went in for a dip.
“We love the ocean and sharks don’t bother me,” Mike Emmerson said.
On Wednesday, a blacktip shark and spinner shark were seen jumping out of the water. On Thursday, five more sharks were spotted.
Christopher Paparo, manager of Marine Sciences Center at Stony Brook University, said it’s the season.
“It’s summer time!” Paparo said. “It’s summer time and sharks. Often it’s like, ‘Oh there are sharks here on Long Island?!’ But we actually have a lot of sharks here on Long Island.”
In the last five years, they’ve tagged over 30 great white sharks off the shores of Long Island.
“Sharks are quite abundant in our waters mainly because of the abundance of food,” Paparo added.
What they all have in common is what they eat — bunker fish. Paparo captures videos of the sharks he sees, and this week he filmed a shark in a buffet of bunker in Southampton.
Despite the abundance of sharks, he says it’s nothing to fear.
“On average in the world there are about 80 to 100 attacks worldwide,” Paparo said. “Most people are going to stand a better chance of getting into a serious car accident on their way to the beach before they even see a shark.”
These shark sightings are on par with last year’s numbers, but one thing that is different, he says, is the blacktip and spinner sharks are not historically found here.
“This is a species of shark that would range into New Jersey regularly, but due to ocean temperatures rising — climate change — a lot of fish population is shifting north.”
Some tips to help with avoid coming into contact with a shark include not swimming near food, so if you see a pool of bunker, that’s a sign to get out of the water. Also, avoid swimming during dawn or dusk. Lastly, swim in lifeguarded areas.