WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island lifeguard was bitten in the water at Jones Beach on Monday and officials said it might’ve been by a shark.
Beach patrols are now being stepped up on the water and in the air, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
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Jones Beach lifeguards waved swimmers out of the water around 7 p.m., signaling the end of the day. Earlier, they cleared the water for a very different reason.
“When we came in today they told us that there was no swimming, and we asked why and they said because they had spotted a shark earlier in the day,” said Vanessa Rigan of the Bronx.
State Parks officials said a lifeguard was in the water around 11 a.m. when he felt a bite on his left calf and then saw a fin. He was left with a gash about an inch long.
Swimming was suspended and state police surveyed the water with a drone, but no shark was spotted.
“We haven’t confirmed it was a shark bite. That’s under investigation right now and we are continuously monitoring the waters,” said New York State Parks Regional Director George Gorman.
Swimming resumed around 2 p.m. and plenty of people went back in the water.
“When we first came, I was super scared. But now I’m not like scared anymore,” said beachgoer Scarlett Fernandez.
“I went to the water twice, but I didn’t see anything. You just have to be careful because you never know,” said Walter Maldonado of Levittown.
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There were shark sightings last week at Jones Beach and Nickerson Beach, following an unprecedented 20 sightings last year.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran sent a tweet saying police are “intensifying aerial and water patrols out of an abundance of caution,” and urged people to stay calm.
Due to multiple reported shark sightings, @NassauCountyPD is intensifying aerial and water patrols out of an abundance of caution. I urge residents to stay calm, use common sense and follow lifeguard instructions.
— Laura Curran (@NassauExecutive) July 26, 2021
“It doesn’t worry me because it’s the ocean. There’s sharks there all the time, you know? Just be precautious,” Rigan said.
According to Parks officials, some of the best ways to avoid sharks are:
Avoid areas where people are swimming.
Avoid swimming as dusk.
Swim in groups close to the shore.
“We are monitoring and we will take whatever action that’s necessary and we have increased our scanning. We have increased lifeguards on the beaches,” Gorman said.
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The lifeguard was treated at the beach, then taken to a hospital to be checked out. We’re told he’s doing just fine.