July 7th, 2023 – Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter was joined by town officials, a veteran ocean lifeguard and a NYS DEC marine biologist at a press conference to address the recent shark encounters that took place during the 4th of July holiday weekend on Fire Island and at surrounding beaches.
“It’s days like today that really make you want to get out on the boat, head to the beach, and truly enjoy the water and all our island community has to offer. But if this past weekend serves as any sort of sobering reminder, the beauty of Long Island and its surrounding waters are not ours alone to enjoy. We share it with the animals to whom, for them, it is their home. And while we should not fear to swim and take advantage of all the usual recreational activities that make growing up on Long Island so memorable, we should also stay vigilant and informed on the best practices to do so wisely,” said Supervisor, Angie Carpenter.
Alex Schicilone, ocean senior lifeguard with the Town of Islip for 33 years, said that only in recent years has the potential for a shark encounter become a daily concern when on duty. “When you are heading to the beach, you should always be aware of your beach rules. It’s imperative to understand your current conditions, whether it’s weather or beach conditions, especially if there’s any riptide that day you want to be conscious that…you should always, always swim within the lifeguard area, which is extremely important. Obviously, never swim alone, no matter what your skill level is in swimming, you should always work on a buddy system,” said Schicilone.
“We expect to see sharks here in New York every June through September, typically coinciding with the summer months. We have 13 different shark species here that migrate out from the south. These animals are in their natural habitat. They are wild animals and bathers should take precautions when they enter the water and be aware of their surroundings. Listen to the lifeguards. Don’t go in where there are schools of bait fish or splashing fish in the water. Don’t go in at dusk, dawn, or nighttime…if the waters murky that could increase encounters because sharks may misidentify their prey,” said Christopher Scott, Marine Biologist, NYS DEC.
“If you see a shark, stay calm, slowly back out of the water, keep your eye on the animal and alert the lifeguards to what you saw,” said Scott.