Why Are There So Many Shark Attacks off Long Island Right Now?

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: October 15, 2022
© iStock.com/Five Buck Photos
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How many times in recent years have you encountered a shark or seen a shark attack? For many of us, it may seem like a miracle to spot one. But not for the residents of Long Island, NY. Recently, had so many sightings that it became the talk of the town. People started weighing in on the subject and could not bring themselves to believe that these sharks were now a common encounter for the inhabitants. 

Is it a good thing though? Seeing such a large increase in the number of sharks? What about attacks? Have there been any reports of fatal attacks on Long Island? What sharks were spotted in these sightings? And above all, what is the cause for such a big population of sharks finding their way to Long Island? 

Why Is There a Large Number of Sharks in New York?

This year in July, there were five shark attacks reported in two weeks alone. Then, there was a video of a shark doing a little spin not very far from the shore. All of this troubled the residents and the experts were bothered to make comments on the matter. They made two important observations.

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The first was the fact that with global warming rising rapidly all around the world, the water is becoming warmer day by day. Since the sharks prefer the warmer waters, they were seen coming near the shore. The second observation was similar. The experts say that the water is becoming cleaner, harboring increasing numbers of fish. This in turn gives off a desiring scent for the sharks to come and feed on these fishes.

Is it a Good Thing?

The thing about global warming is obviously concerning. Activists have been trying to bring our attention to the exact same things happening today. But alas, now those effects have become evidently clear. 

However, the second observation about fresh prey finding their way near the shore is a good sign. This suggests that the residents of New York live near a healthy ecosystem. Most of the sharks found are scavengers that can take the carcasses away from the shore, making it an attractive environment for marine life. 

The number of sharks that were reduced in the 1970s is now increasing, showing that the endeavors of conservation are finally showing fruitfulness. Even though New York is a metropolitan area, this shows that it is finally shifting towards a healthy atmosphere for the marine population and people alike. 

Were There Any Fatal Attacks?

In 2021, there were 73 shark attacks in the US. In the summer of 2022, there were five attacks only within the time frame of two weeks. Experts say that there is a 42% increase in the number of shark attacks. This number alone seems huge.

But nearly all of these attacks have not been fatal. The attacks that occurred in 2022 were mainly on people who were either swimmers or surfers. But, contrary to popular belief, a shark attack is not always deadly. The sharks found near the shore are ones that can injure a person quite badly but they would not kill the wounded. The type of sharks found are mainly fish-eaters so the bites are only because of the human-shark contact and not because the sharks were in pursuit of humans as their prey. 

It is best to swim near the shore where there are lifeguards. However, experts do believe that people are more likely to die by drowning than they are to get killed by shark attacks.  

What Sharks Were Spotted off Long Island?

Now, the number of shark spottings might scare you. Most of them move motionlessly which makes it even more likely for a human to get a surprise visit from these sharks. 

But learning a little bit about the type of sharks found may allow you to feel confident in swimming during your beach visits. Being informed and being able to identify the sharks can help you during a potential encounter. 

Experts believe that the sharks encountered near Long Island were Sand Tiger Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, and Dusky Sharks. That might not be that helpful to you. So, let’s dive a little bit into these kinds of sharks to get a better insight. 

Sand Tiger Sharks

These sharks are huge and may grow up to be 10.5 feet long. They also have large, pointy, and curved teeth that are visible from a distance. Moreover, they do not have any natural predators which makes them even scarier. However, they are known to be quite sluggish. They move slow and motionlessly, posing no bigger threat to humans. And their teeth are best at puncturing the skin but are not usually fatal for humans. 

The head of a big sand tiger shark in detail with a dark background.
Sand tiger sharks have extremely scary, long, curved teeth that are easily seen from a distance.

©MP cz/Shutterstock.com

Sandbar Sharks

These sharks are around 6 to 8 feet long. They are blue-gray in color and have around 14 to 15 rows of sharp teeth. The shark is considered an aggressive predator but not to humans. They only attack smaller prey and prefer going after aquatic meals only. They do move faster than the Sand Tiger Sharks but they will only bite a human if provoked. Many people even find these sharks cute even though they look aggressive. That is because they are safer to be around. 

Sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus)
Sandbar sharks reach a length of 6 to 8 feet long and they’re faster than sand tiger sharks.

©Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock.com

Dusky Sharks

These sharks can reach a length of 12 to 14 feet. They are bluish-gray as well but have a white underbelly and they can live up to half a century. And the scariest part about these sharks is that they have one of the strongest bites among sharks. But even then, they do not hunt humans unless they feel threatened. A lot of their prey include sharks, rays, sea turtles, octopuses, and more. A shark that eats a shark may scare you off from the beach. But they grow and locomote slowly. 

Dusky shark
Dusky sharks have one of the strongest bites of any shark.

©ilan elgrably/Shutterstock.com

How to Be Safe From Shark Attacks

Even with all the information, it is quite scary to encounter a shark during swimming or surfing. After all, it is not what you signed up for when you decided to go to the beach. You may not die but going to an emergency room with shark bites is a big traumatic event. So, how can you be safe from a shark attack and still fulfill your desire to swim?

  • Avoid going into the waters when it is either dusk or dawn. It is the time when sharks go out to hunt and if they encounter you, it could be a contact you did not initially ask for. 
  • Try to swim and surf away from people who are out fishing. These fishing poles hold bait that could attract the sharks and eventually shark encounters.
  • You should also take off any shiny jewelry before you go out for a swim or a surf.
  • Don’t go into the waters if you are bleeding. That may send off a scent to the sharks that could trigger an unwanted encounter. 
  • Pick a swimming or surfing spot that is nearer to the lifeguards so, in any drastic situation, they can help you prevent a shark bite. 

Up Next…

Check out a few of our other shark-related articles.

  • 10 Incredible Shark Facts – How can sharks be any more amazing?
  • 10 Most Unusual Looking Sharks – They are not ugly or weird, they are unique.
  • 10 Fastest Sharks – Read our list to find out which sharks you could or could not out swim!

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Five Buck Photos
© iStock.com/Five Buck Photos

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

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