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Swimming halted at Montauk beach after bluefish bite two

Bluefish at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk forced officials to suspend swimming at the beach Friday after two people were bitten by several schools of the fish near the shoreline.

Lifeguards cleared the waters of beach patrons at about 2:45 p.m. after two swimmers reported being bitten by the fish, according to George Gorman, state parks regional spokesman.

"One individual suffered a bite to the left foot and another sustained a bite to the right hand," Gorman said.

Schools of bluefish often chase their prey near the shoreline as a means of isolating them, according to Charles Bowman, the president of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

"They are trying to feed on bait fish," Bowman said. "If you're in the middle, they will bite you by mistake. They aren't after people."

It's not the first time Long Islanders have run into bluefish, Gorman said. "A few years ago at Robert Moses, we had someone bitten," he said.Officials hope to decide by 10 a.m. Saturday whether swimming will be permitted at the park, Gorman said.

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