Bathers were allowed back in the water Friday at Tobay...

Bathers were allowed back in the water Friday at Tobay Beach after Thursday's shark sightings. Credit: Howard Simmons

Swimming resumed Friday at Tobay Beach after shark sightings prompted its closure Thursday — marking another incident in which the predators have been spotted close to shore on Long Island and on a few occasions bitten bathers this summer, officials said.

"Tobay Beach opened at its regular time, with lifeguards on duty at 8 a.m.," said Town of Oyster Bay spokeswoman Madison Spanodemos on Friday afternoon. "Lifeguards are looking for sharks and have seen none."

On Thursday, Tobay Beach lifeguards spotted a total of six sharks, and when one — about 3 feet long — came in about 30 yards from shore, swimming was halted at 1:20 p.m., Spanodemos said.

Nassau County police responded and dispatched the aviation bureau.

Tobay Beach, just four miles east of Jones Beach State Park, is part of Oyster Bay Town, one of several communities stepping up anti-shark safeguards after bathers reported five shark attacks off of Long Island in the past three weeks.

Lifeguards watch bathers Friday at Tobay Beach.

Lifeguards watch bathers Friday at Tobay Beach. Credit: Howard Simmons

The Town of Hempstead, which patrols Nickerson in Nassau to Point Lookout, also reported no shark sightings Friday, said spokesman Greg Blower. None of the beaches were closed, he said.

No sharks were spotted Friday at state-operated beaches, which include Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park and Hither Hills State Park, said George Gorman, Long Island regional director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

"Today is a shark-free day, so far," Gorman said Friday afternoon. "Knock on wood."

Nassau County beaches were open and no sharks were spotted, said spokesman Christopher Boyle.

Suffolk County beaches also were open and had no reported sightings, said spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle.

One of this summer's victims, lifeguard Zach Gallo, returned to the stand at Smith Point County Park in Shirley on Thursday, just 11 days after being attacked by a shark.

Gallo, 33, of Bayport, felt a bit of apprehension as he pulled up for work, but that washed away as soon as he returned to the ocean, he said.

“Once I was in the water, I was just happy to be back,” Gallo said during a news conference at the beach Thursday. “My fellow guards and I were yelling, ‘Who’s ready for round two?’ ”

Gallo suffered injuries to his hand and chest during a lifeguard training drill July 3.

He stressed the importance of swimming only in areas under lifeguard supervision and highlighted the quick work of his co-workers in getting him immediate medical attention.

“I can’t thank my colleagues enough for coming to help me when I needed it at one of the most vulnerable times in my life,” he said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Thursday said shark attacks at the county beach were “unprecedented” but might happen more frequently in the future.

“Before July 3 we had not had a recorded shark bite at this facility since it opened, during beach hours, back in 1959,” Bellone said. “Now within the span of 10 days we’ve seen two shark bites here, as well as another [Wednesday in Fire Island.]" 

At least four people have reportedly been attacked by a shark this month, with two incidents at Smith Point County Park and two off Fire Island. In late June, a man reported being bitten off Jones Beach, but it was unclear if it was a shark bite.

Experts told Newsday last week that the recent attacks continued what was described as unprecedented escalation for an area that records show had averaged about one attack per decade for the past century.

Conservation efforts, including cleaner oceans and fishing limits, have drawn more sharks and allowed a proliferation of bunker fish off Long Island, a favorite food of sharks, experts say. 

With Vera Chinese

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