Rash of shark attacks prompt New York gov to ramp up beach surveillance

New York's governor on Monday ordered state agencies to step up surveillance off Long Island beaches following a string of five shark attacks in the last two weeks.

The sudden rash of summer shark attacks, which have left Long Island beachgoers on edge, began on June 30 at Jones Beach and included two on Wednesday. None of the bites have proven fatal.

"We are taking action to expand patrols for sharks and protect beachgoers from potentially dangerous situations," New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a written statement.

The governor's order calls for using overtime pay to boost lifeguard staffing at beaches by 25 percent, deploying patrol boats, drones and helicopters and distributing materials to warn beachgoers of the threat.

The shark encounters off Long Island, which saw only one last summer, may be down to a sharp increase in the number of so-called bait fish, Menhaden or bunker, in the shallow waters near shore, said Gavin Naylor of the International Shark Attack File.

Naylor said most of the attacks appear to have been carried out by juvenile sand tiger sharks, which have been nursing in large numbers off Jones Beach. A swimmer was bitten on his right foot on June 30 near Jones Beach.

"Juveniles tend to be less discerning (when targeting prey) and less experienced. The larger ones tend to be further from shore," Naylor said. "But the proximal reason is sharks are looking for food and they target Manhaden."

A Smith Point lifeguard was bitten on the hand while training on July 3. Four days later a lifeguard was attacked near Ocean Beach, suffering minor injuries to his ankle.

The latest two attacks took place on Wednesday, when a surfer suffered a shark bite to the leg at Smith Point Beach and a swimmer from Arizona was attacked off Seaview Beach.

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