A shark bit a Smith Point County Park lifeguard on Sunday morning, prompting Suffolk County officials to temporarily halt swimming at that beach and neighboring Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach, officials said.
The 10-year veteran lifeguard was taken to a local hospital, where he is receiving stitches for shark bites to the hand and chest, officials said. The incident came as lifeguards were in the middle of a training exercise at around 10 a.m. while preparing lifeguards at the county beach in Shirley, which resulted in a expedited response, officials added.
“He is very grateful that he is doing well,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters Sunday during a news conference at Smith Point, noting that he personally spoke with the lifeguard. He noted that shark bites are rare on Long Island. But shark-related incidents have been on the rise.
The incident came three days after a 37-year-old man suffered a possible shark bite to the foot while swimming at Jones Beach State Park on Thursday. Agencies across Long Island have been stepping up shark patrols as beach season kicks into high gear for the Independence Day weekend and in the wake of an increasing number of shark sightings in recent years.
At least one child was bitten by a shark in the surf off Fire Island in 2018 and a Jones Beach State Park lifeguard said he was bitten by a shark in summer 2021. The Fire Island shark bite was the first on LI since 1948, one of seven in New York State since 1670, none of them fatal.
Swimming was allowed again Monday.