The Long Island Shark-Attack story is summer news at its finest

Beachgoers at Smith Point County Park on July 15.
Photo: John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock

If you’re a New Yorker looking to make the most of summer 2022, I have two recommendations for you. First, get this rechargeable battery mosquito repellent; I’m a chronic mosquito sufferer, but haven’t bitten while using it yet. Second, start following news about shark attacks and comments off Long Island. It’s a story that has just about everything you could want in a news story, at a time of year when things traditionally slow down to the point that reporters resort to writing about seersucker-wearing senators. . Here’s why it’s the perfect summer diversion.

Many big stories in the news recently require some understanding of things like COVID-19 subvariants, cryptocurrency, and a multi-faceted plot to steal the 2020 election. In contrast, the shark story of Long Island is so simple that 6-year-olds can follow it. There have been five shark attacks on Long Island, mostly in Suffolk County, in the past three weeks:

  • On June 30, a 57-year-old man suffered a laceration to his right foot while swimming in the ocean at Jones Beach in Nassau County. The doctors who responded said it was a “possible shark bite”.
  • July 3, Lifeguard Zachari Gallo was pretending to be a drowning victim during a training session at Smith Point Beach when a shark ‘pinched’ her hand and chest. Gallo hit the shark three times and swam to shore.
  • July 7, 17-year-old lifeguard John Mullins, who was also playing the victim during a training exercise, was bitten on the foot at Ocean Beach on Fire Island. Other rescuers helped bring him ashore and he received five stitches at a local hospital.
  • The morning of July 13, surfer Shawn Donnelly was attacked on the same beach. As he lay on his board, a shark swam in and bit his left calf. Donnelly slapped the shark once and caught a wave that brought it back to shore.
  • On the evening of July 13, a 49-year-old man from Arizona was bitten on the wrist and buttocks while standing in waist-deep water on Fire Island’s Seaview Beach. He got out of the water and was taken to hospital.

Let the record show I’m resolutely anti-shark attack. As a lifelong Long Islander, I wish everyone could fully enjoy our beaches without being nibbled on by sea creatures, and I’m sorry the five victims went through such a horrific ordeal. “I’ve never been so scared in my entire life,” Donnelly said. Told New York Job. “I screamed and I screamed.”

But fortunately, none of these victims suffered debilitating injuries. We’re talking about four to five foot sharks, not ferocious 20 foot man-eaters. Jaws variety. Gallo only needed two stitches and antibiotics, and he Told ABC7 New York that he’s grateful he “got away with a minor – a minor injury.”

“I felt a pressure in my hand, I pulled it out and just started pounding, punching and I connected three times with the shark. And then the third time he spun,” he said. recalls Gallo, “Blood was pouring out of my hand and arm. In fact, I hadn’t even realized that I had been cut in the chest. I guess my adrenaline, my survival instinct kicked in.”

Mullins said he “didn’t really feel the bite at first” and describe the feeling like “like a scratch, like a rake going up my foot.”

Likewise, Donnelly initially thought he had escaped his encounter with the sharks unscathed. “I did a quick check. I thought maybe he had misunderstood me. Then I saw blood running down my leg and a clear bite mark,” Donnelly Told press day.

There’s been plenty of news lately, and it often feels like the response at the national level is limited to politicians. saying“Huh, that’s pretty bad, but what are you going to do?”

This shark story is just the opposite. On Monday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the state is stepping up efforts to spot sharks lurking offshore through increased drone surveillance and staffing of lifeguards.

“We can inform people of the presence of sharks”, Hochul said. “As soon as they are detected, red flags go up on the beach and people must clear the water for at least an hour. That way we can protect people with earlier notification, and it’s a more coordinated effort, as well as adding more lifeguards to the beaches for surveillance.

Alright, but do we really have the money and manpower to fight this shark infestation? It turns out yes! By press day:

State parks will increase lifeguard staffing at ocean beaches by 25%, which the governor’s office says translates to 2-4 lifeguards on each lot. They will use overtime to account for the increase, Hochul’s office said.

Long Island State Parks is fully staffed with about 500 lifeguards, thanks in part to state-approved 21% pay raises for downstate lifeguards in June, state officials said. parks. Those staff members are willing to work overtime, said Ryan Clark, president of the New York State Lifeguard Corps, the union for lifeguards.

“Our main mission is to make sure everyone who comes to state parks gets home the same way they came,” said Clark, who is usually stationed at Jones Beach East Bath House.

This isn’t one of those problems where all you can do is ditch the plastic straws and complain to the intern who runs your senator’s phone line. If you are not interested in getting bitten by a shark, you can follow these safety tips from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

-Avoid areas with joints.

-Avoid areas with schools of baitfish, often characterized by fish splashing to the surface, diving seabirds, or the presence of marine mammals such as dolphins.

-Avoid areas where people are fishing.

-Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn or night.

– Avoid cloudy water.

– Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak and surf in a group.

-Swim near the shore where your feet can touch the bottom.

-Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and park staff.

– Obey all signs on the beaches.

You can also take comfort in knowing that it is still very unlikely that you will be the victim of a shark bite. Like washington Job Remarksthe recent spate of attacks in New York is unusually high, as there were only 47 unprovoked attacks nationwide in 2021. And your risk of dying in a shark attack is fair one in 4.3 million.

Christopher Paparo, director of the Center for Marine Science at Stony Brook University, told the Job that the upsurge in shark incidents is a sign that conservation efforts are working. The sharks that live in the waters off Long Island are mostly sand tiger sharks, gray sharks, and dusky sharks which likely mistake humans for fish.

“They don’t have the teeth or the jaw structure where they could eat a person even if they wanted to,” he said. “They’re not out there looking for a swimmer or a surfer.”

Sharks have (almost) nothing to do with politics, so it’s a safe topic to discuss with everyone, from your Gen Z socialite cousin to your MAGA hat-wearing neighbor. And your local pride will increase every time you see a beachgoer bragging to a local newscaster that the possibility of losing an appendage won’t stop them from entering Long Island Sound.

“You’re taking a chance. It’s the ocean. This is their habitat! a defiant Brian Lewis from Riverhead Told press day TV when asked if he was worried about going back into the water.

“We are New Yorkers. We can survive anything,” added Annie Volaski of Rosedale. “Even a shark.”

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