State to Heighten Shark Patrols on Long Island This Summer

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

State to Heighten Shark Patrols on Long Island This Summer

New York State will increase its shark patrols on Long Island’s beaches this summer, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday.

After an unprecedented amount of shark encounters in summer 2022, state agencies are introducing 10 new drones to monitor the bathing waters at state park beaches, more than doubling its surveillance capacity at Jones Beach and Robert Moses. The state will also add two new WaveRunner water crafts to help park lifeguards to patrol the waters.

“With New Yorkers and visitors alike preparing to enjoy our beautiful Long Island beaches all summer long, their safety is our top priority,” Hochul said. “This year we are taking further action to protect beachgoers by increasing surveillance to monitor for shark activity near beaches off the South Shore. I encourage all New Yorkers to listen to local authorities, follow guidance and take precautions to ensure a safe and responsible beach trip this summer.”

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

The 10 new drones add to the eight that are currently in operation at state park beaches. The state will also add one higher-tech drone that has thermal imaging, laser range finding, and high-quality cameras for night-time surveillance and in adverse weather conditions. The drone can also drop floating devices in emergency situations.

The two new WaveRunners – one for Jones Beach and the other for Robert Moses – adds to the one that is currently deployed at Sunken Meadow State Park. The state will add 12 patrol staff members to its 21-person staff who will be trained to operate the new drone and water equipment by Fourth of July weekend.

In addition, the state is adding new buffer zones between the swimming and surf fishing areas, as well as having New York State Police Aviation on deck for when a shark sighting occurs.

When there is a shark sighting, swimming will be suspended for at least one hour. State park lifeguards will then continuously monitor the waters to ensure a safe return to the waters for sharks. The sighting is also reported to Long Island Coastal Awareness Group.

New York State advises the following to avoid shark encounters this summer:

  • Avoid areas with seals
  • Avoid areas with schools of fish, splashing fish, or diving seabirds
  • Avoid swimming at dusk, night, and dawn
  • Avoid murky water
  • Swim, paddle, and surf in groups
  • Stay close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom
  • Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and Parks’ staff

Related Story: Shark Sightings Get More Common at Long Island Beaches