A top Long Island official says the peninsula’s beaches are safe for swimming – despite a pair of recent shark attacks on area lifeguards.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman waded into the surf at Lido Beach on Sunday as he sought to assure wary beach-goers that they had nothing to fear.
“We have great lifeguards, follow their instruction, follow their lead and make sure you can see our lifeguards so they can see you,” the Republican official said, shortly after emerging from the water in a black T-shirt.
The waterfront spectacle came days after two lifeguards were begging by sharks off Fire Island. Those attacks followed a June 30th incident, in which a 57-year-old swimming off of Jones Beach was injured in what Nassau County Police described as a “possible shark bite.” The incident prompted Long Island to step up shark patrols, including by drone, boat and helicopter.
In his remarks on Sunday, Blakeman said that swimmers should make sure that they are within sight lines of lifeguards, while avoiding unprotected waters. He also cautioned against swimming in the vicinity of fishermen and areas that are teeming with birds, noting that both indicate the presence of bait fish.
“The sharks chase the fish,” he said. “They really aren’t interested in human beings. They are interested in fish, so if there’s a lot of birds that are in the area or surrounding the water, that’s probably an area you shouldn’t swim.”
Research has indicated that warming ocean temperatures caused by climate change has pushed more sharks into the northeast waters. But while shark sightings have become more common in the region, unprovoked attacks remain exceedingly rare.
Some experts attribute the increase in sightings to the fact that technology – including drones and social media – has made it easier to find the predators.