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AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
Two shark attacks were reported within 12 hours of one another off Long Island this week.
On Wednesday, officers from the Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau responded to calls that a 49-year-old man from Arizona was bitten by a shark off Seaview Beach around 6:05 p.m., Suffolk County police said in a statement shared with PEOPLE.
The Arizona man "was standing in waist deep water, when a shark came up from behind and bit him on the left wrist and buttocks," according to the statement. The victim then walked out of the water and was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital by a police helicopter with "non-life-threatening injuries."
That morning, another shark attack was reported off Smith Point Beach, which is also on Fire Island. That attack happened around 7:30 a.m., when a paddle boarder was knocked off their board and bit on the leg, leaving behind a four-inch long gash, according to ABC News and NBC News. The shark involved in Wednesday morning's incident was identified as a tiger shark, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. The victim believes the shark was about 4 feet in length.
The paddle boarder claims to have tried punching the shark after falling into the water, but later saw the shark turn back around, at which time "the initial bite occurred," Bellone explained.
"At that moment, fortunately, a wave carried the surfer and the paddle board onto shore, and that was the last contact with the shark," the Suffolk County executive said.
The paddle boarder "sought care" from nearby park rangers and was transported to Long Island Community Hospital for treatment, Bellone said. After the attack, no shark was spotted off Smith Point Beach on Wednesday.
The Suffolk County Parks Department announced that swimming had been suspended "due to dangerous marine life activity" in a Facebook post shared by the department just after 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The beach reopened at 1:30 p.m., the department said in a subsequent post.
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Bellone said Wednesday morning that the incident serves as "an indication that what we are looking at is something of a new normal," according to ABC News.
The two shark attacks Wednesday happened just 10 days after a lifeguard at Smith Point Beach was attacked by a shark on July 3. The lifeguard was injured in his chest and hand during a training exercise by a shark between 4 and 5 feet long, according to NBC New York. That attack was the first reported shark attack at the beach since Smith Point County Park first opened in 1959, according to NBC News — making Wednesday's attack its second ever.
James Carbone/Newsday RM via Getty Images
On Wednesday, Bellone warned of the dangers of entering the ocean without a lifeguard on duty, as the victim in that morning's attack did.
He also highlighted some "common-sense precautions" for beachgoers, such as not venturing too far away from shore, avoiding the water while bleeding and wearing "shiny jewelry."
With sharks getting "closer to shore than they've been," Bellone said it is important to be on the lookout for the animals. As a result, he said, human and shark interactions "may increase" in the area.
"Fortunately, we have not seen any significant injuries, nor do we expect that with the sharks that we've seen or that we're talking about," he told reporters. "But it is something for us to be aware of and conscious of."