Suffolk Steps Up Shark Patrols, Promotes Swimming Safety

shark patrols
Atlantic Beach shark sighting 2013

Suffolk County is ramping up shark patrols along its South Shore after six people sustained shark bites in the last three weeks, County Executive Steve Bellone said in a TV interview Friday morning.

The county has added three wave-runners on paddleboards to scan the waters and will also be monitoring for sharks via drones. The sharp increase in sharks moving closer to the shore this year has several possible explanations.

“This is really unprecedented,” Bellone said on Fox News. “There have been a lot of theories about what is causing it – people talk about water quality improving, climate change – but our lifeguards anecdotally have reported that they’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of bunker fish, and sharks are obviously attracted to that food source.”

Bellone noted that while shark encounters have suddenly become a common occurrence, it has not impacted attendance to local beaches. 

“We have the best trained lifeguards anywhere, I believe,” he said. “We’re engaged in enhanced monitoring now … People should feel safe.”

He added that ocean swimmers must remain alert for dangerous rip currents, citing a Montauk man who died in the rough waters this week.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced earlier this week that the state is increasing its shark patrols at Jones Beach, Robert Moses, and Hither Hills state parks. There have been at least two shark sightings at Town of Hempstead beaches over the past week. There was also a dead great white shark that washed up to shore in Quogue this week.