July 20, 2022: According to city officials, all Rockaway beaches have now officially been re-opened.
July 19, 2022: Sharks have officially been spotted at Rockaway beaches. As a result, all of them are currently closed for swimming—although the boardwalk is still open.
The New York Police Department's 100th Precinct just tweeted the information out less than an hour ago. The news follows a pretty hectic weekend in terms of shark sightings, which prompted Governor Kathy Hochul to call for an increase in patrol efforts.
After sharks were spotted at Rockaway Beach in Queens and Lido Beach on Long Island earlier this weekend, officials temporarily shut down access to the destinations.
Between 2:25 and 4:37pm, Rockaway Beaches 9-29 were closed for swimming, according to ABC7.
As a result of the sightings, Governor Kathy Hochul also called for an increase in shark patrol efforts.
"As New Yorkers and visitors alike head to our beautiful Long Island beaches to enjoy the summer, our top priority is their safety," the politician said in an official press release earlier today. "We are taking action to expand patrols for sharks and protect beachgoers from potentially dangerous situations. I encourage all New Yorkers to listen to local authorities and take precautions to help ensure safe and responsible beach trips this summer."
The state's updated efforts include the deployment of helicopters and drones to potentially more easily spot the dangerous creatures and a 25% increase in lifeguard staffing through overtime at ocean beaches.
"This will translate to approximately two to four lifeguards within each field, which will boost surveillance for sharks and other marine life from the shore, by surfboats, and through an enhanced drone beach surveillance program," reads the press release. "There will also be additional surveillance measures through expanded drone availability, increasing from one to three available drones at Jones Beach State Park and one to two available drones at Robert Moses State Park, and Hither Hills State Park will be assigned its first drone."
Mayor Eric Adams has not released a statement in connection to the news. As a result, it is yet unclear whether city beaches will be affected by the changes as well.
However, under State Park shark safety guidelines, swimming is always suspended following a sighting so that officials can inspect the shoreline by drone. "Swimming is only allowed to resume at least an hour after the last sighting in order to better protect beach visitors," explains the press release.
As usual, we urge New Yorkers to stay safe and alert. In that spirit, we reproduce the shark safety tips that the governor's office recently shared with the public right here:
- Avoid areas with seals.
- Avoid areas with schools of bait fish, often characterized by fish splashing on the surface, diving sea birds, or the presence of marine mammals such as dolphins.
- Avoid areas where people are fishing.
- Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn, or nighttime.
- Avoid murky water.
- Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
- Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.
- Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and Parks staff.
- Adhere to all signage at beaches.