Smiths Point beach was closed for swimming the morning of Wednesday, July 13 after a tiger shark bit a surfer around 7:30 a.m.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said that according to first responders the surfer suffered about a four inch gash in his leg from the shark. The surfer, who has not yet been named, identified the shark to be about four feet in length. According to Bellone the surfer was knocked off of a paddleboard and took a punch at the shark and saw the shark coming back around towards them after the initial bite. Fortunately, a wave brought both surfer and board back to shore where they were able to alert a park ranger.
At the time of Bellone’s press conference there had not been an additional sighting since the early morning incident and that as long as there are no more sightings the water will be open to swimming around 1 p.m. with heightened monitoring. Bellone also noted that the incident occurred before lifeguards were on duty and cautioned against swimming in unprotected waters. A drone from fire, rescue and emergency services will be in the air monitoring the water as well as individuals on waverunners.
Wednesday’s incident comes just 10 days after a lifeguard was bitten by a shark during a training exercise at Smiths Point beach.
“To have two of these incidents happen for us, for this facility, for this beach is unprecedented,” Bellone said. “We’ve not seen this before. We hadn’t seen our beach closed for swimming in the history of Smith Point County Park since it opened in 1959. So, to have a second incident like this, certainly is not something we would expect.”
“I think it is an indication however that what we're looking at is something of a new normal.”
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