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Governor orders beefed up monitoring of sharks for Long Island beaches

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In response to this rise in shark encounters on Long Island beaches, Gov. Kathy Hochul called on state agencies to implement increased safety precautions and collaborative patrolling on the land, in the air, and in the sea for the rest of the summer.

The first month of summer has yielded approximately six shark attacks reported in ocean waters along the South Shore. Among the most recent was a surfer bit by a shark in Kismet on Fire Island Wednesday evening, according to reports. On Wednesday, the @NYSDEC confirmed a young Great White shark washed up at a beach on Dune Road in the Hamptons.

“As New Yorkers and visitors alike head to our beautiful Long Island beaches to enjoy the summer, our top priority is their safety,” Hochul said. “We are taking action to expand patrols for sharks and protect beachgoers from potentially dangerous situations.” 

These safety efforts include heightened patrols and surveillance of shark activity, including drone and helicopter monitoring along the Long Island state park beaches. The governor also directed state agencies to expand public outreach efforts of shark safety resources and education to further protect beachgoers.

At Hochul’s direction, the state’s parks department will beef up lifeguard staffing by 25 percent at ocean beaches, using overtime hours to make it happen.

This means about two to four lifeguards will be stationed within each field, which will boost surveillance for sharks and other marine life from the shore, by surfboats, and through the drone beach surveillance program.

State parks on Long Island have 13 certified drone operators, with six more operators expected to complete certification in the coming weeks.

Drone availability will increase from one to three drones at Jones Beach State Park, one to town drones at Robert Moses State Park, and one drone at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk.

New York State Park Police also have one drone in case they need it.

The drones will be able to expand their coverage from the current four miles to 11 miles, Hochul said.

“We can notify people of the presence of sharks as soon as they are detected,” the governor said.

Additionally, state parks acquired extra drone batteries and rapid battery chargers to extend the duration of available drone surveillance.

Other actions include park police patrol boats searching the water; dispatching New York State Police helicopters for aerial patrols; distributing educational outreach materials; and bolstering federal, state, county, and local partnerships to share resources and information regarding shark sightings.

Swimming is suspended following a shark sighting, so that the shoreline can be inspected by a drone. Red flags go up on the beach and swimming is prohibited for at least an hour.

All sightings are referred to the Long Island Coastal Awareness Group, which consists of 180 individuals from municipalities, agencies and private beach operators stretching from Queens across Long Island.

Lifeguards are continuously on the lookout for sharks, as well as other potentially dangerous marine life.

On Tuesday, at East Atlantic Beach in Long Beach, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Councilwoman Missy Miller, and Town of Hempstead lifeguards gathered to discuss the recent shark sightings.

According to reports, lifeguards suspended swimming after two shark were spotted off East Atlantic Beach Tuesday afternoon.

In response to the sightings, waterways were closed from Far Rockaway to Long Beach to swimmers, and the Town of Hempstead reopened its beaches at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Newsday reported.

To minimize risk of shark interactions, visit the New York State website here to see its list of shark safety tips.

Top images: (Left) Town of Hempstead officials and lifeguards at East Atlantic Beach and (right) a young Great White shark that @NYSDEC confirmed washed ashore at a beach on Dune Road on Wednesday. (Twitter)