QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — Swimming and surfing will be prohibited at Rockaway Beach Tuesday after a woman was injured in an apparent shark attack at the beach on Monday evening, officials said.

“Due to recent shark activity. Parks Enforcement & NYPD will be on patrol to keep swimmers out of the water. FDNY & NYPD will be doing aerial surveillance to monitor for sharks,” the Parks Department said in a statement.

Authorities responded to the incident near Beach 59th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard around 6 p.m. The woman, 65, was bitten in the leg and taken to the hospital in critical condition after NYPD officers applied a tourniquet, officials said.

Sources told PIX11 News that the woman had a large bite on her left thigh.

A green beach tent and beach chair could be seen on the beach for hours after the incident. A sign posted at the beach said lifeguards are staffed at the beach from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Members of the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit responded to the beach to fly two drones. The cameras on the drones searched the water for any signs of sharks nearby.

PIX11 News reached out to the NYC Parks Department who said:

We hope for a full recovery for this swimmer. Though this was a frightening event, we want to remind New Yorkers that shark bites in Rockaway are extremely rare. We remain vigilant in monitoring the beach and always clear the water when a shark is spotted… Prior to today, we have no reports of shark bites on Rockaway Beach in recent memory. 

In the city, NOAA Fisheries monitors all marine species and posts educational information on their website. NYS DEC sets the regulations for recreational and commercial fishing, including sharks.   

While Parks is not the primary agency responsible for monitoring sharks, both lifeguards and beachgoers report shark sightings. Our lifeguards then work to verify the sighting and ask for a flyover by NYPD if warranted. If appropriate, the lifeguards will whistle people into shallower water, or in extreme cases, whistle people out of the water. This is usually fairly localized.

NYC Parks Department spokesperson

Jonathan Rizk is a digital journalist who has covered local news in the New York City and Washington D.C. areas. He has been with PIX11 since August 2022. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.