Rockaway Beach temporarily closed for swimming due to shark sightings

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Sunday, July 24, 2022
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Rockaway Beach has been temporarily closed for swimming Saturday due to shark sightings in the area.

ROCKAWAY BEACH, Queens (WABC) -- Rockaway Beach temporarily closed for swimming Saturday due to shark sightings in the area.

New York City Parks Department said beach goers were not allowed in the water, but the boardwalk and concessions remained open.

This came as the heat wave is keeping beaches packed, and with authorities continuing to monitor shark activity with lifeguards, boats, helicopters and drones.

A 16-year-old surfer, Max Haynes, was bitten about 15 to 20 yards out from Kismet Beach on Fire Island Wednesday evening.

He was bitten on his right foot, and he said he was playing with his friend James, pretending to be a shark about 30 seconds before he was attacked.

"We were actually flipping each other off our boards, scaring each other, you know, grabbing each other's feet in the water pretending we were sharks," he said. "And then all of a sudden, 30 seconds later, I actually get chomped on."

He suffered an approximately 4-inch cut.

"I felt on my foot like a bear trap just get me from below, like hard," he said. "It felt like it broke my foot."

His doctor told him that based off of his bite marks, he could tell the size of the shark's jaw, which led to the estimate that the shark was about 6 feet long.

It all came the same day as a dead great white shark washed up ashore in Quogue in the Hamptons.

Experts say the warmer and cleaner waters mean sharks are getting closer to shore.

Lifeguards are trained to spot sharks' distinctive fins.

Governor Kathy Hochul says New York State beaches have increased staffing.

Teddy Tilkin, an expert with the Long Island Aquarium, tells Eyewitness News there are several important factors to surviving a shark encounter.

"Stay as calm as possible and try to get away from the shark," Tilkin said.

He said to swim away with as little splashing as possible, so that the shark won't sense that you are injured or distressed.

"If they really were to bite and wanted to eat us, we would be losing limbs and have a lot more external damages to us from a lot of the attacks," he said. "Because sharks are extremely powerful animals."

RELATED | Shark Alley? More sightings off Long Island beaches as swimmers urged to use caution

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