State Increases Shark Patrols on Long Island After String of Bites, Sightings

shark patrols
Nassau County police Marine Bureau officers performing shark patrols in 2020.
Photo by Kevin Kane

New York State will increase its shark patrols along Long Island’s South Shore state park beaches after a string of recent shark bites and sightings, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday.

Hochul has directed state agencies to heighten shark watches over the Atlantic Ocean at Jones Beach, Robert Moses, and Hither Hills State Parks. There will be additional lifeguards at each field keeping an eye out for marine wildlife. When a shark is spotted, red flags will go up on the beach, indicating that swimming is prohibited for at least an hour under New York State guidelines while drones, helicopters, and boats are deployed to scan the area.

“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. I encourage all New Yorkers to listen to local authorities and take precautions to help ensure safe and responsible beach trips this summer.”

The state will increase the number of drones surveilling the waters from one to three at Jones Beach and one to two at Robert Moses, and Hither Hills will have its first drone. In addition, the state is working to build public awareness about shark safety information.

A sharp increase in shark sightings and attacks this summer prompted the state’s actions. Five people have sustained shark bites within two weeks on Long Island, including two people bitten in one day on Fire Island. Most recently, there was a shark sighting at the Town of Hempstead’s Lido Beach on Sunday.