A great white shark, dead but looking very much alive, washed ashore Wednesday morning in Quogue, village police said. Officers arrived and took several photographs but the tide washed the deceased man-eater out to sea before they could secure it for a necropsy.
The predator, between 7 and 8 feet long, was spotted about 9:30 a.m. by a resident who called the police, according to a Quogue Village police news release. Great white sharks can grow to be more than 21 feet long.
Lifeless in police photos, but with black eyes agape and rows of sharp teeth exposed in an open mouth, the Quogue shark appears ready to strike as it lies in the inch-deep surf — another reminder to already ocean-wary Long Islanders of what swims just off the coastline.
State Department of Environmental Conservation representatives reviewed the photos and determined it was a great white, according to the agency. DEC police officers arrived on the scene, but were unable to locate the carcass.
Police alerted the South Fork Natural History Museum Shark Research and Education Program, whose researchers were attempting to find the animal Wednesday.
Quogue police have cautioned swimmers and boaters to be aware and to keep their distance as law enforcement monitors for sharks. Quogue Village Police have asked that anyone who believes they have spotted a shark call police headquarters at 631-653-4791.
Public officials have stepped up efforts to patrol Long Island’s beaches for shark sightings following a rash of attacks this month.
In the past three weeks, there have been at least five confirmed shark bites off Long Island South Shore beaches and possibly a sixth, and multiple sightings reported by lifeguards, police and beachgoers. The latest attack occured late Wednesday afternoon when a shark bit a surfer off Fire Island. The teenage victim was treated at a hospital for what Suffolk police described as a "minor bite" to his right foot.
Still, serious shark attacks are rare, experts say. The lifetime threat of a fatal shark attack is 1 in 3.7 million, according to the International Shark Attack File, a database housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.
Researchers have determined that the New York Bight, which encompasses the waters from Cape May, New Jersey to Montauk, is a great white nursery ground, said Christopher Paparo, a member of the South Fork Natural History Museum’s shark research team.
Paparo, who also serves as manager of Stony Brook University's Marine Sciences Center, warned against taking a tooth or other souvenir as great whites are federally protected animals, and doing so could result in a fine. He also stressed that the recent spate of shark sightings and encounters is ultimately a good thing because it means area waters are clean.
“People can go and swim in the Gowanus Canal and not get attacked by a shark,” he said. “But the reason there are sharks here is because the environment is healthy.”