State Agencies Increase Lifeguard Staffing, Patrols, and Drone Beach Surveillance To Detect Shark Activity and Help Prevent Shark Encounters
Expands Public Outreach on Shark Safety Resources and Education
Governor Kathy Hochul today directed the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the State Police to implement heightened patrols and surveillance of shark activity, including drone and helicopter monitoring, along the Long Island State Park Beaches due to recent shark encounters in the Atlantic Ocean waters off of the South Shore. The Governor also directed state agencies to expand public outreach efforts on shark safety resources and education to help beachgoers stay safe.
“As New Yorkers and visitors alike head to our beautiful Long Island beaches to enjoy the summer, our top priority is their safety,” Governor Hochul said. “We are taking action to expand patrols for sharks and protect beachgoers from potentially dangerous situations. I encourage all New Yorkers to listen to local authorities and take precautions to help ensure safe and responsible beach trips this summer.”
At the Governor’s direction, State Parks will increase lifeguard staffing through overtime at ocean beaches by 25 percent. This will translate to approximately two to four lifeguards within each field, which will boost surveillance for sharks and other marine life from the shore, by surfboats, and through an enhanced drone beach surveillance program. There will also be additional surveillance measures through expanded drone availability, increasing from one to three available drones at Jones Beach State Park and one to two available drones at Robert Moses State Park, and Hither Hills State Park will be assigned its first drone. Park Police also have one drone available to respond as needed. Drone surveillance capabilities at Long Island State Park beaches will also expand from the current four miles to 11 miles. Additionally, State Parks has acquired extra drone batteries and rapid battery chargers to extend the duration of available drone surveillance. Long Island State Parks has 13 certified drone operators, with six more operators expected to complete certification in the coming weeks.
Other new actions include:
- Deploying Park Police patrol boats to search the water.
- Dispatching New York State Police helicopter patrols over the South Shore waters.
- Distributing outreach materials focused on education via social media, DEC listserv, and website to the public.
- Bolstering federal, state, county, and local partnerships to share resources and information about potential shark sightings and better support correct identification of sharks and other fish.
Under State Park shark safety guidelines, swimming is suspended following a shark sighting so the shoreline can be inspected by drone. Swimming is only allowed to resume at least an hour after the last sighting in order to better protect beach visitors. All sightings are referred to the Long Island Coastal Awareness Group, which consists of 180 individuals from municipalities, agencies, and private beach operators stretching from Queens through Long Island. State Park lifeguards are continuously scanning and patrolling the waters and are on the lookout for any sharks or other potentially dangerous marine life.
To minimize the risk of shark interactions, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advises the following shark safety tips:
- Avoid areas with seals.
- Avoid areas with schools of bait fish, often characterized by fish splashing on the surface, diving sea birds, or the presence of marine mammals such as dolphins.
- Avoid areas where people are fishing.
- Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn, or nighttime.
- Avoid murky water.
- Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
- Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.
- Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and Parks staff.
- Adhere to all signage at beaches.