Long Island shark attacks: A timeline of the increasing phenomenon

·5 min read
Long Island shark attacks: A timeline of the increasing phenomenon

With five shark attacks off beaches in New York's Long Island over the last two weeks, beachgoers may have to grapple with the new normal of their presence.

Luckily, none of the summer’s shark attacks have turned deadly. Here’s a rundown of the shark bites from Long Island beaches so far this summer.

June 30

The first shark bite of the season came as a 37-year-old swimmer was bitten on his right foot near Jones Beach.

The attack left the man with a laceration on his foot, officials said.

In a statement from the Nassau County Police Department, officials said that they would be increasing patrols across beaches over the July 4 weekend.

PHOTO: Cary Epstein, a veteran lifeguard, is among those being trained to operate a fleet of drones for shark-spotting amid an increase in sightings at Jones Beach, New York, July 1, 2022. (Johnny Milano/The New York Times via Redux)
PHOTO: Cary Epstein, a veteran lifeguard, is among those being trained to operate a fleet of drones for shark-spotting amid an increase in sightings at Jones Beach, New York, July 1, 2022. (Johnny Milano/The New York Times via Redux)

In a press conference on July 1, Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman said that patrols would include both boats and helicopters, and the county would also be using drones over the water to get a better picture of the situation.

July 3

Just a few days later, a Smith Point Beach lifeguard became the second victim of a shark bite in the area.

Zachari Gallo, a Sayville High School special education teacher, said he was training with other lifeguards and pretending to be a drowning victim in the water as part of an exercise.

MORE: 5th shark attack in 2 weeks off Long Island leaves man injured

"I felt pressure in my hand, pulled it back and I just started hammering, punching and I connected with the shark three times, and then on the third time it spun away," Gallo told ABC affiliate WABC.

He added that blood was “pouring” down his hand and arm, but he didn’t realize he had also been bitten in the chest, claiming that adrenaline must have taken over his senses.

After Gallo hit his third punch, the shark spun away, but then started to flick its tail back around, he said.

It was then that Gallo knew he was dealing with a shark and rushed the lifeguards near him back to shore.

Fortunately, no more bites happened during the training session, and Gallo only needed two stitches and antibiotics for his injuries.

The Smith Point and Cupsogue beaches were closed after the attack on Sunday, and reopened at 10 a.m. on Monday after lifeguards performed an extra patrol of the waters.

July 7

That same week, another lifeguard was bitten near Ocean Beach on Fire Island.

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The lifeguard was only about 150 to 200 yards off shore when the afternoon attack happened, officials said.

According to the chief lifeguard of the Ocean Beach District, the lifeguard was bitten around the ankle and only received minor injuries.

Earlier that day, lifeguards had a fin sighting off of Ocean Beach, officials said.

Following the afternoon attack, all Fire Island Ocean District flew purple flags in lifeguard areas and red flags in other swimming areas to signal "dangerous marine life" activity, per the Town of Islip's protocol.

July 13

Two separate shark attacks hit the same Long Island Beach less than a week after the incident on Fire Island.

The first came before lifeguards were on duty, at about 7:45 a.m., when a surfer was bitten by a shark, officials said.

Officials believe the attack was by a tiger shark, which left behind a 4-inch gash on the surfer's leg.

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After being knocked off his paddle board, officials said that the surfer "took a punch" at the shark, which seemed to be coming back for another bite.

Luckily, officials said, a wave carried the surfer and his board back to shore before any further damage was done.

A park ranger helped the surfer once back on shore and called 911, police said.

Just hours after the incident, the Smith Point Beach was reopened at 1 p.m.

Later that evening, a 49-year-old man from Arizona was bitten by a shark shortly after 6 p.m. at Seaview Beach, Suffolk police said.

The man "was standing in waist-deep water when a shark came up from behind and bit him on the left wrist and buttocks," police said in a statement.

The victim was able to walk out of the water and was transported via a Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

After the first attack on Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone held a briefing on the beach.

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Bellone said that Wednesday's incident is "an indication that what we are looking at is something of a new normal."

He added that sharks seem to be closer to the shore, which will continue to make interactions between them and humans more frequent.

"Fortunately, we haven't seen significant injuries, nor do we expect to, but it is something to be aware and conscious of," Bellone said.

Bellone warned swimmers to stay out of the water when lifeguards are not on duty, to avoid the water during dusk and dawn, not wear shiny jewelry and not go into the water if bleeding.

During the past few weeks, officials have been monitoring beaches via boat, helicopter and drone to account for the uptick in shark incidents off of Nassau and Suffolk county beaches.

On July 10, Blakeman held a press conference on the beach, where he said that it is relatively safe to go into the water, as long as you take precautions.

"If you're gonna go in the ocean, it's good to go with a partner. Always go on a protected beach where there are lifeguards, always stay together and be conscious of your surroundings," he said, even wading into the water himself. "If you do those things, you will be safe."

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For now, officials will continue to keep extra patrols on beaches, and beaches will remain open unless further sightings or incidents are reported.

There was only one report of a shark bite last summer, with a lifeguard bitten in July.

According to Long Island officials, there were 20 confirmed shark sightings off the island in 2021, a record for the area.

According to ABC News affiliate WABC, that number was three times as many sightings as recorded in 2020.

With five attacks and increasing sightings, this summer is looking to be Long Island’s most shark-filled yet.

Long Island shark attacks: A timeline of the increasing phenomenon originally appeared on abcnews.go.com