New York Takes Steps to Increase Shark Safety
Governor Kathy Hochul announced that new shark-monitoring drones will be deployed to local beach communities on Long Island and New York City. This is in response to increased shark sightings in the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. The drones will be distributed to all downstate municipalities by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It also provides funding to cover the cost of training local personnel to operate the drones.
“New York has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and I’ve directed State personnel to do everything possible to keep beachgoers safe this summer,” Governor Hochul said. “Ahead of the busy summer season, we developed new tools and strategies to monitor marine wildlife and protect the health and safety of New Yorkers. These new drones will increase the shark monitoring capacity of local governments across Long Island and New York City, ensuring local beaches are safe for all beachgoers.”
The new drones are part of a larger effort to increase shark safety in New York. In addition to the drones, there’ll also be increased surveillance over the waters in response to shark sightings over the Fourth of July holiday. This includes increased patrols by lifeguards, Park Police, and park staff. When situations arise of shark sightings and/or interactions with swimmers occur in State Parks beaches, swimming is suspended and all bathers are cleared from the water.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has also released its Guidance to Reduce the Risk of Negative Interactions with Sharks. This guidance includes advice on how to minimize the risk of shark interactions, such as avoiding areas with seals, schools of fish, or splashing fish.
The DEC guidance also recommends that beachgoers swim in groups, stay close to shore, and be aware of their surroundings. If you see a shark, do not panic and do not try to swim away. Instead, try to stay calm and signal for help.
The new shark-monitoring drones and other safety measures are designed to help keep beachgoers safe in New York. However, it is important to remember that sharks are wild animals and there is always some risk of interaction. By following the DEC guidance and being aware of your surroundings, you can help reduce your risk of a negative shark encounter.
In late May, Governor Hochul announced enhanced shark monitoring measures for Long Island State Park beaches, which include State Parks’ expanded surveillance capabilities:
- An additional ten drones has more than doubled the eight in operation from last year. One new drone assigned to Park Police is a large enterprise model with thermal imaging, laser range finding, and high-quality cameras to allow for night-time surveillance and patrols in adverse weather conditions. This drone can also drop personal flotation devices in emergency situations
- Currently 21 staff including Park Police officers, State Park operational staff, lifeguards and certified drone operators are trained. An additional 12 staff members were trained to be ready for this summer.
- State Parks Environmental Educators holding public outreach regarding shark habitats for people at Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Sunken Meadow this summer
- Two new Yamaha WaveRunners have been assigned to lifeguards to patrol both Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Parks. These two personal watercrafts will join one already in operation at Sunken Meadow State Park
- Additional buffer zones were created between swimming areas and surf fishing areas
- When sightings occur, New York State Police Aviation will be available to respond as needed
To minimize the risk of shark interactions, the Department of Environmental Conservation advises the following shark safety guidance:
- Avoid areas with seals
- Avoid areas with schools of fish, splashing fish, or diving seabirds
- Avoid swimming at dusk, night and dawn
- Avoid murky water
- Swim, paddle, and surf in groups
- Stay close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom
- Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and Parks’ staff