Five Shark Attacks in New York in Just Two Days: 50 Sharks Spotted by Drones

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: July 9, 2023
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The long Independence Day weekend didn’t just bring thousands of beachgoers to New York beaches. It also brought a flurry of shark activity. Three swimmers in New York were bitten by sharks on July 4, with two more bites occurring one day earlier.

Sand tiger shark

A rash of shark activity in New York has beachgoers and authorities concerned.

©Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

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July 4 Incidents 

The first incident on July 4 involved a 47-year-old man who was swimming off of Quogue Village Beach in the Hamptons. He was bitten on the right knee.

Minutes later, a 49-year-old man was bitten on the hand while swimming off Fire Island Pines Beach.

Later, a woman around 50 years old was bitten off of Sailors Haven Beach on Fire Island.

These three incidents came one day after two teenagers suffered shark bites in New York waters.

Beautiful warm golden sunlit clouds during sunset perfectly reflecting in the sand on a beach. Fire Island National Seashore - New York

Multiple shark incidents occurred off of Fire Island over the holiday weekend.

©Scott Heaney/

July 3 Incidents

A 15-year-old boy was bitten on the heel while surfing at Kismet Beach on Monday. A 15-year-old girl was bitten on the left leg at Robert Moses State Park on Monday, as well. The girl never saw the shark, but all the evidence suggests that is what inflicted the puncture wounds on her leg.

Thankfully, none of the shark bites over the holiday weekend inflicted life-threatening injuries. All of the victims were treated for their wounds and are expected to recover.

Drone Patrols

Five shark attacks in two days have certainly raised the concerns of beachgoers and local authorities. It seems to be the start of a troubling trend. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison told WABC, “We did have a season last year where we had six swimmers bitten from sharks, so this has turned into a bit of a concern.”

Since shark attacks are increasing, drone patrols have been implemented to scan the state’s waters for shark activity. The drones saw a shiver of 50 sharks off Long Island on Tuesday morning. The beach opening was delayed. The water was closed to swimming again later in the day authorities spotted what appeared to be a shark, but it was later determined to be a dolphin.

Sand Tiger Sharks (Carcharias taurus)

The sharks seen on the Long Island drone footage have been identified as sand tiger sharks. The sand tiger shark features ragged, needle-like teeth that give it a rather ferocious appearance. However, the shark is generally non-aggressive toward humans.

Though their names are similar, the tiger shark is significantly more aggressive than the sand tiger shark. Still, as with most sharks, the risk of a bite from a sand tiger shark is not zero.

While the sharks that bit swimmers in New York over the July 4 holiday have not been positively identified, the presence of so many sand tiger sharks in the area suggests this shark species is the likely culprit in some, if not all, of the attacks.

The head of a big sand tiger shark in detail with a dark background.

The teeth of the sand tiger shark certainly look menacing, but it is typically a non-aggressive shark.

©MP cz/

Why Are Sharks So Close to Shore?

Charles Gorman, New York State Parks Regional Director, told WABC, “We have more surveillance and more capabilities through drones than we have ever seen. So we don’t know if [a shiver of 50 sharks] is a normal occurrence, but what we do know is that there is a new normal. The sharks are coming closer to shore because the baitfish and bucket fish have been expanding, and they are closer to shore.”

As Gorman noted, the sharks are most likely moving closer to shore because they are following their food. Warmer ocean temperatures have brought the baitfish that are the primary prey for sand tiger sharks closer to the shore. Where the prey goes, the predators are sure to follow.

This new normal has some folks wary about going back into the water, but others accept the risk of entering the shark’s watery home. In an interview with WCBS, 90-year-old Diana Fratello said, “That’s nature, and maybe we are taking over their domain, and they don’t like it.”

Sand Tiger alias Ragged-Tooth Shark

Like any predator, the sand tiger shark is going to follow its prey.

©Tomas Kotouc/

Florida and Massachusetts

Sharks were also spotted near beaches in Massachusetts and Florida over the holiday weekend. A viral video shows a shark moving dangerously close to swimmers at Navarre Beach in Pensacola. 

Is It Safe to Swim?

Even with the recent number of shark bites, it is important to remember that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning or winning the lottery than being bitten by a shark. But there are some precautions you can take to decrease your chances of a shark encounter.

  • Never swim alone.
  • Remove all jewelry and avoid shiny swimsuits. When the sun reflects off shiny objects, it may appear to be a baitfish to a shark.
  • Stay away from anglers. Their lures or bait may attract sharks.
  • Heed the warnings from officials.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alessandro De Maddalena/

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About the Author

Mike is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on geography, agriculture, and marine life. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and a resident of Cincinnati, OH, Mike is deeply passionate about the natural world. In his free time, he, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks.

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