Beachgoers at Jones Beach on Friday. Among safety tips: Make...

Beachgoers at Jones Beach on Friday. Among safety tips: Make sure a lifeguard is present and that no warning flags are flying.  Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Recent shark attacks and sightings in local waters have raised awareness of the predators.

Before jumping into the surf, here are some tips to remain shark-safe.

First, make sure a lifeguard is present and that no warning flags are flying. Maybe even speak with the lifeguard about any signs of trouble such as predatory fish or strong riptides, said Christopher Paparo, Stony Brook University's Marine Sciences Center manager.

It's best to take a dip during the day, as sharks tend to feed around dawn and dusk, he added.

Scan the water and look for nature's signs: a dorsal fin cutting through the surface, or a flock of seabirds circling above the surf, the latter which could mean predatory fish are feeding below, said Kevin Smith, first deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department.

"If you see ripples in the water, it could be a school of fish. If they are close to shore and you see birds overhead, you don't want to go in that mix," he said.

Shark experts also recommend swimming with a buddy and avoiding areas where people are fishing, as the bait can draw predatory fish. 

Avoid erratic movements when swimming and refrain from excessive splashing. That mimics the behavior of an injured fish, according to a tip sheet from the Florida Museum of Natural History. 

"Do not wander too far from shore, as being far from shore also isolates you from any emergency assistance. Wearing shiny jewelry is discouraged because the reflected light may resemble the sheen of fish scales," the tip sheet advised.

Try to keep calm if a shark swims near you, according to tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"If a shark sees a human splashing in the water, it may try to investigate, leading to an accidental attack," according to the administration. 

Don't provoke the shark, said Hofstra Biology Department Chair Peter Daniel.

"I wouldn't suggest trying to beat them up," he said. "Get yourself back to shore."

However, if the shark attacks, attack right back, targeting sensitive areas such as its eyes, gills and snout, according to the Florida museum.

Experts stress that shark attacks are rare.

"I think that, in general, people are pretty safe and should remain calm," Daniel said. "There's bigger danger of drowning due to a riptide. My major concern is getting hit by a Jet Ski or boat."

Long Island shark incidents (some unconfirmed)

In 1950, Newsday reported that a teenage swimmer at Rockaway Beach emerged from the water with a 4-inch "gaping wound" from a "mystery fish," sparking rumors of sharks along Long Island's South Shore beaches. The type of animal in this incident was unconfirmed.

In 2001, a lifeguard at Robert Moses State Park was swimming between Fields 2 and 3 when he felt something bite his right foot, leaving behind bloody puncture wounds. Officials never determined what kind of animal bit him, though they denied that it was a shark and referred to the injury as a "fish bite."

In 2008, a man fishing for sharks 25 nautical miles south of Moriches Inlet was bitten on the arm as he tried to remove a hook from his catch. Officials confirmed it was a shark but did not know what kind.

In July 2018, a 13-year-old boy was bitten in the leg in a confirmed shark bite at an Atlantique beach. A 12-year-old girl is believed to have been bitten by a shark minutes earlier at Sailors Haven. Both suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Summer 2022: A shark bit a lifeguard on his left foot off Ocean Beach Thursday morning. On July 3, a shark bit a Suffolk lifeguard on the chest and hand as he took part in a training drill off the shore of Smith Point County Park. On June 30, a man swimming off Jones Beach was bitten on the foot, possibly by a shark. None of the injuries were life-threatening. 

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