Two People Bitten By Shark on Fire Island in Same Day

shark patrols sightings
“Swimming Prohibited” signs were posted at Smith Point County Beach on July 13, 2022 after a shark-related incident, Suffolk County officials said.
Photo by Julia Rocca Virnelli

A shark bit another swimmer Wednesday off Seaview Beach, 11 hours after a shark bit a surfer off Smith Point — bringing the number of shark attacks on Long Island to five in two weeks.

Suffolk County police and Village of Ocean Beach officials confirmed that a 49-year-old Arizona man was in the Atlantic Ocean when a shark bit him on the left wrist and buttocks shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday. The incident came after a surfer was bitten in the water off Smith Point County Park shortly after 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, officials said earlier in the day. 

Seaview Beach is a short walk from Ocean Beach on Fire Island, where a 17-year-old lifeguard — who just returned to work Wednesday — was bitten by a shark on July 7. Seaview and Ocean Beach are on the western end of Fire Island while Smith Point — where another lifeguard was bitten on July 3 — is on the east end of the barrier beach. The first in the string of incidents involved a 37-year-old man who suffered a possible shark bite to the foot while swimming at Jones Beach State Park on June 30. 

In the latest case in Seaview, the man walked out of the water and was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, including a 6-inch gash on his left hand, officials said.

Suffolk officials had temporarily closed Smith Point County Beach to swimming Wednesday morning after the paddle board surfer was bit. Lifeguards monitored the situation with jet skis, drones and paddle boards, officials said, and reopened the beach to swimmers in the afternoon. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone held a news conference Wednesday morning to discuss the incident.

A shark bit an Arizona man on the hand in Seaview on July 13, 2022. (Photo by Ian Levine)

“To have two of these incidents happen for this facility, this beach, is unprecedented,” Bellone said. “We haven’t seen Smith Point County Park close to swimming since it opened in 1959. More frequent contact with these sharks may be what we come to expect.”

Bellone said the surfer had a 4-inch gash on his leg from the tiger shark bite. First responders offered care to the individual, who was then taken to Long Island Community Hospital for further examination for the minor injury.

Agencies across Long Island had already been stepping up shark patrols as beach season kicks into high gear 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.

Beachgoers seemed mostly unalarmed and say they still feel safe at the beach despite the recent shark attacks. It did pose an inconvenience for those looking to beat Wednesday’s heat, however.

“These shark attacks are getting annoying,” Kelli Donovan, a beachgoer and school teacher, told the Press.

“This is the first time we can’t swim because of a shark attack,” another beachgoer, Julie Jacobs, said.

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