how lifeguards on New York beaches look out for sharks
There have been at least six shark attacks off the coast of New York State this summer, which is likely to beat last year’s record of eight incidents. City authorities and lifeguards are doing everything possible to ensure that beachgoers and sharks intersect as little as possible, according to NBC New York.
An increase in shark sightings off New York’s coastline this summer has caused a stir among beach goers, but the state’s lifeguards want tourists to know there’s nothing to fear as new technologies are changing the landscape.
Carey Epstein is a Senior Lifeguard at Jones Beach State Park who has been in charge of the beach for 26 years. This year, for the first time, he thought about whether to go into the water, but he realizes that meeting with sharks does not scare him away.
“We are water men and water women. This is what we do. This is what we love. It won’t stop us from being in the water. It won’t stop us from doing our job,” Epstein said in an interview with NBC New York ahead of the morning’s beach inspection.
The first shark bite in New York in decades occurred to a 65-year-old woman on Rockaway Beach earlier this month. There have been at least six shark sightings on the New York coast this season alone, which is predicted to be up from eight last year.
On the subject: How to act when meeting a shark, and why you should not be afraid of them: tips from a diver
Watching from the sky
The NYPD will monitor the city’s shores seven days a week using drones, at least until the end of the summer.
Jones Beach State Park on Long Island has been using drones for three years, conducting aerial surveillance at least three times a day, and sometimes every hour. With the help of the “heavenly eye”, park staff observe other marine life: schools of fish, dolphins and whales, as well as rip currents and bathers.
Attached to the drone is a special speaker, similar to a megaphone, which allows rescuers to communicate with people directly in the water.
New Surveillance Technologies
In addition to rescue stands, boats and drones, a new tool appeared this summer that allows you to look at the sea from a different point – a breakwater.
“This is what we call in surf rescue or rescue business a rescue boat. What’s really good is the viewing angle. You can safely be on one of these lifeboats in the water and have a view that’s a little different from everyone else,” Epstein said.
There are currently 250 lifeguards at Jones Beach State Park and more than 500 across Long Island, Epstein said, and the reality of increased shark encounters is the “new normal.”
This means more lifeguards will become certified drone pilots as required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Epstein says the parks are now reviewing potentially new protocols and standard operating procedures developed by agencies around the country to determine the safest way for lifeguards to enter the water in critical situations.
According to the International Shark Attack File (International Shark Attack File, ISAF) for the period from 2017 to 2021, there are an average of 70 unprovoked shark bites each year – incidents in which the marine predator was not exposed to humans.
Various types of sharks live off the coast of New York: blue, sand, tiger, short-finned (mako), white shark and others. For marine experts, the sighting of these species in the water is a good sign that conservation efforts are paying off as sharks follow and feed on large concentrations of bait fish.
While the chances of shark attacks are low, steps should be taken to reduce their danger, such as avoiding dawn or dusk swimming, wearing shiny jewelry in the ocean, and swimming alone.
Read more NY daily news online on our portal.