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More shark sightings closed New York beaches on Wednesday after previous spottings and a potential shark attack forced the state to take action.
The Long Island town of Hempstead prohibited ocean swimming and bathing during the afternoon due to a sighting off Atlantic Beach.
“Due to a recent shark sighting off Atlantic Beach, the Town of Hempstead is prohibiting beachgoers from swimming/bathing in the ocean at township operated beaches,” the town wrote in a Facebook post.
“Long Island beaches are a crucial resource for New Yorkers in summer, and we must make sure people feel safe when visiting,” State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said in a Tuesday release. “With assistance from New York State Police, we are expanding our measures to patrol for sharks and other potentially dangerous marine animals. I encourage all New Yorkers to familiarize themselves with the steps they can take to stay safe while enjoying a day at the beach.”
The state parks department assured that it will continue to follow shark alert protocols including suspending swimming while shores are inspected by drones.
“Swimming is only allowed to resume at least an hour after the last sighting. All sightings, including today’s incident, are referred to the Long Island Coastal Awareness Group, which consists of 160 municipalities, agencies and private beach operators stretching from Queens through Long Island,” the department wrote. “State Parks created this alert system in 2018 after shark interactions off Fire Island. State Park lifeguards are continuously scanning and patrolling the waters and are on the lookout for any dangerous marine life, such as sharks.”
The Atlantic blacktip shark – which is named for the black tips on its pectoral, dorsal and tail fins – can reach up to 6 feet in length and age to more than 15 years old.
While the sharks can be found year-round in the Gulf of Mexico, they have been known to migrate as far north as Massachusetts, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
WABC reported that Clavin noted several shark sightings had previously motivated the town to invest in its “shark patrol.”
To minimize the risk of shark interactions, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation advises that residents avoid areas with seals, schools of baitfish, areas with people fishing, murky water and isolation.
Additionally, the department recommends swimmers avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn or at night, swim close to shore in shallow water, follow the instructions of lifeguards and staff and adhere to all important signage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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