Why there are more shark sightings on Long Island

·1 min read

Beachgoers on New York's Long Island are on the lookout for sharks after five shark attacks in just the last two weeks.

A Fire Island lifeguard was bitten on the foot. An Arizona tourist was bitten on the hand and buttocks while standing in waist-deep water. A surfer suffered wounds to his lower leg.

"It hit me and it knocked me just off my board," surfer Shawn Donnelly said. "I saw its body and I said, 'Oh, this is a shark.'"

Shark attacks across the country are increasing —  in 2021 there were 47 confirmed cases, up 42% from the year before. But the risk of actually being killed by a shark is 1 in 3,748,067, according to the Florida Museum.

"It's very common that the shark attack is not fatal," said Christopher Paparo, manager of the Marine Science Center at Stony Brook-Southampton. "The reason for that is they're not trying to eat us."

Paparo says more shark sightings off U.S. coasts are not by accident. He pointed to successful conservation efforts that have increased the shark population.

"The sharks that are most common in our areas, that are interacting with people these days, are sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks and dusky sharks," Paparo said. "You can't do anything with those fish. And by doing that, they've made a rebound."

Long Island beach crews are now using sophisticated drones and WaveRunner patrols to search for sharks in an effort to keep swimmers safe.

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