JONES BEACH, NY (PIX11) — Shark sightings at Atlantic Ocean beaches from eastern Queens to central Long Island shut the beaches down for part or all of Tuesday afternoon.
It was the latest in a very active month so far for shark encounters in our region. Coastal authorities say that the high number of shark sightings on Tuesday means that the systems in place to protect beachgoers are working, and that people should feel safe coming to the beach to cool off during this week’s anticipated heat wave.
Around 1 p.m., lifeguards at beaches in the Town of Hempstead started seeing sharks offshore, as close as 25 yards away from the water’s edge. The sightings at East Atlantic Beach and Long Beach led to authorities close down all of the town’s coastline — about six miles of beachfront.
It was a similar scene at Jones Beach, just east of the Town of Hempstead. Around 3:15 p.m., lifeguards cleared everyone from the water after they spotted a shark offshore.
Also, at Far Rockaway, in Queens, the New York City Parks Department shut down the beach after a shark’s dorsal fin was seen off the shore by lifeguards.
The shark encounters this month continue to mount. Since July 3, there have been four shark bites, at three different beaches on Long Island, as well as six shark sightings at least.
Still, say some beachgoers like Alyssa Sieger, “The sharks were here first. We’re the ones infiltrating their home.”
She’d come to Jones Beach on Tuesday to cool off with some friends. One of them, however, said that she was content with the sea breeze from under an umbrella, rather than venturing into the water.
“There’s been a lot of [shark] sightings,” she said. “A lot. So I’m okay just sitting in the sand.”
Many different tools for warning beachgoers about sharks were visibly in use at Jones Beach on Tuesday — two different drones were in the sky, as well as a New York State Police plane, and a state police helicopter.
They joined a lifeguard force that’s working overtime, due to an order from Gov. Kathy Hochul, as well as more boats and paddle boards off the shore on shark patrol.
George Gorman, the regional director for New York State Parks, said that the enhanced shark patrols are expected to remain in place throughout the season.