Nassau officials announced increased shark patrols a day after authorities said a man may have been bitten by a shark at Jones Beach. Newsday TV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/Reece T. Williams

One day after a man was hospitalized after being bitten, potentially by a shark, at Jones Beach, Nassau lawmakers and law enforcement officials announced enhanced patrols for the ocean predators.

A 37-year-old man was swimming in the ocean at Jones Beach at 1 p.m. Thursday when he sustained a laceration to his right foot, Nassau police said Friday. Medics from the department's Emergency Ambulance Bureau responded and identified the injury as a possible shark bite, authorities said.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where he was treated for his injury, according to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

"The surgeons that were treating him thought that it looked like a fish bite, probably a shark bite," Blakeman said at a news conference Friday at the county-run Nickerson Beach, where officials announced enhanced shark patrols for the extended July Fourth weekend. "It's not 100% but there was a level of concern."

George Gorman, New York State Parks regional director for Long Island, said the individual sustained a "laceration or small puncture wound" and was treated at the East Bathhouse before being transferred to NUMC. The beach, he said, was never closed.

There were more than two dozen shark sightings, including blacktip, bull and large thresher sharks, at South Shore beaches last summer, as compared with 20 in the summer of 2020, according to officials. Sharks were spotted at Jones, Nickerson, Atlantic, Lido and Long Beach last year.

Last month, beach patrols at Lido Beach said a fisherman spotted a 10-foot shark near Point Lookout, just north of the Loop Parkway bridge.

County officials Friday said they did not have a count on how many sharks have been spotted in 2022.

While Blakeman said shark sightings remain rare, county and town officials have begun taking precautions, increasing Marine Bureau helicopter patrols and shore monitoring of local beaches, and deploying a high-tech drone over waterways. 

Nassau will also continue to use a shark warning system, rolled out last year by former County Executive Laura Curran. A purple flag with a white shark silhouette will hang at the beach's entrance if a shark has been spotted in the previous 24 hours, officials said.

Nassau County Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Smith said the public should use good judgment when swimming in the ocean this summer, avoiding spots where large schools of fish could appear, including where fishermen are surf-casting and where birds are dive-bombing looking for food.

"We always ask the public to be vigilant," Smith said. "That goes for being around the water."

The towns of Oyster Bay, Hempstead and North Hempstead also have bay constables who work with Nassau police.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joe Saladino suggests Long Islanders swim in groups and to avoid the water at night and if they have an open wound.

"We're asking people to be shark-smart," Saladino said. "The marine biologists tell us that it is a very low probability that you'll get attacked by a shark statistically. But it doesn't mean that you should take it lightly."

He added, "We know that a shark attack could cause anything from permanent scars on an ankle to ... the loss of a limb to the loss of your life, usually from someone bleeding to death. So it's very important that people take proper precautions."

In Suffolk, Keith Kolar, assistant chief of Suffolk County Lifeguards, said no sharks have been spotted at this time, so they are continuing with their "normal shark patrols," which include the use of jet skis, paddle boards and additional watercraft.

"If anything of concern is observed we will work with the department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services to get drones out in the air if needed," he added.

With Cecilia Dowd

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