19 shark sightings reported to New York State DEC over past year

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(WWTI) — The New York State DEC and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are reminding New Yorkers that the state’s coastal communities are part of a natural environment with a rich diversity of marine life, including sharks.

As more people stay closer to home and enjoy the outdoors, the potential for interactions with sharks is increasing.

“We have peacefully coexisted with sharks for thousands of years,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Shark attacks on humans are extremely rare, but I encourage New Yorkers to exercise caution when swimming in the ocean. Increasing your awareness to your surroundings can help minimize the overall risk both to the public and the health of our shark population.”

“State Parks lifeguards vigilantly watch over the water to protect our swimmers. At the first sighting or report of a shark in the water we exercise caution and clear the swimmers for their safety. Public safety is our highest priority,” said Parks Long Island Regional Commissioner George Gorman.

Many species of sharks can be found in New York’s marine waters. According to a release from the NYS DEC, sharks play an important role in regulating and maintaining the balance of intricate marine ecosystems.

There have been 19 shark sightings reported to DEC in the last 12 months, including sandbar, hammerhead, and thresher sharks. Sharks can range in size from the four-foot spiny dogfish to plankton-eating basking sharks that reach up to 40 feet in length.

The biological characteristics of sharks can also differ greatly, including their prey and hunting styles. For a complete list of sharks found in New York waters or to report shark sightings, visit DEC’s website.

DEC is encouraging the public to minimize potential interactions with sharks and reduce overall risk with the following tips:

  • Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn, or night time.
  • Avoid areas with schools of bait fish.
  • Avoid areas with seals.
  • Avoid murky water.
  • Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
  • Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.
  • Avoid areas where people are fishing.
  • Adhere to all signage at beaches.
  • Always follow instructions of lifeguards and parks staff.

In the event of a shark bite:

  • Ensure your environment and surroundings are safe.
  • Call 9-1-1 or tell someone to call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • If you have first aid training, provide “Stop the Bleed” to the injured until help arrives.
  • If you are not directly caring for the individual, seek out first responders and direct them to individuals involved.
  • Stay out of the water.

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