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Shark sighting halts swimming again at Jones Beach

Swimming was restricted at area beaches after shark

Swimming was restricted at area beaches after shark sightings at Jones Beach on Thursday and Friday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Another shark, possibly swimming too close to shore Friday afternoon at Long Island's Jones Beach State Park, prompted yet another temporary halt to swimming there, just a couple of hours after the same threat shut a nearby beach at Point Lookout, officials said.

While a drone flown by State Police did not find one of these predators in the seas off the West Bathhouse at Jones Beach, "multiple stingrays," were seen, and swimmers were allowed back in the water at around 3:45 p.m., said George Gorman, Long Island regional director, state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Swimming also was been barred at the South Shore's Point Lookout starting about midday after a shark was seen near that barrier island beach, just west of Jones Beach.

"There was a sighting of a shark off at Point Lookout," Town of Hempstead Supervisor Donald X. Clavin Jr. said Friday afternoon. . "It was spotted by both a lifeguard and a swimmer," he added.

This summer, just like the last summer, more sharks are raising alarms as they swim closer to shore — possibly, scientists say, chasing bait fish.

State, county, park, bay constables and other local officials all have intensified monitoring, adding lifeguards, sending them out in surf boats and — in Hempstead — on water scooters. Drones are also being flown, and boats and helicopters are patrolling.

On Thursday, sharks swimming too close to beaches also delayed the opening of Jones Beach, interrupted swimming at Babylon's Robert Moses State Park, and led Hempstead to limit swimmers to knee-deep only.

Though the Town of Hempstead on Friday morning opened its approximately four-mile stretch of beaches from Point Lookout in the east to Long Beach in the west, beachgoers initially were restricted to waist-deep water as a precaution, because of the sharks seen swimming near Jones Beach the day before.

One of the unusual species seen this week, blacktip sharks, breached a couple dozen yards or so offshore, which is closer than the shark species more commonly seen here tend to swim, Clavin said.

Though the Great South Bay still has areas of low oxygen and high nitrogen pollution, which has fueled recent algae blooms, the Atlantic Ocean is cleaner now than it has been in decades, scientists say, hypothesizing that is why sharks increasingly are observed in the Atlantic off Long Island.

"These lifeguards, they've really done a wonderful job," Clavin said, noting their training includes shark identification.

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