September 28, 2022

Lately, beachgoers on Long Island have had to be on the lookout for more than just sun and fun. 

There have been five shark attacks in just the last two weeks. Among them was a Fire Island lifeguard who was bitten on the foot. At one point, two people were attacked on the same day.

And an Arizona tourist was bitten on the hand and buttocks while standing in waist deep water, suffering wounds to his lower leg while he surfed.

“It hit me and it knocked me just off my board,” Shawn Donnelly told CBS News. “It threw me to the right. I saw it when I turned over. I saw the dorsal fin and I saw the body and I said, ‘Oh, this is a shark.'”

Unfortunately, Donnelly is not alone. Shark attacks across the country are up. In 2021, there were 47 confirmed cases — up 42% from the year before.

Still, the risk of actually being killed by a shark is 1 in 3.7 million.

“One thing I’ve noticed in some of these recent encounters is they have not been fatal,” said Christopher Paparo, manager of the Marine Science Center at Stony Brook-Southampton. “It’s very common that the shark attack is not fatal. And the reason for that is, they’re not trying to eat us.”

Paparo says more shark sightings off the U.S. coasts are not by accident. He said conservation efforts have increased the shark population.

“The sharks that are most common in our areas that are interacting with people these days are sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks and dusky sharks,” he said. “You can’t do anything with those fish. And by doing that, they’ve made a rebound, you know, and it’s not easy to bring sharks back because many species live for 50 or more years.”

For now, beach crews are using sophisticated drones and patrolling on wave runners for sharks in an effort to keep swimmers safe.

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