After 5 shark attacks on Long Island in just a year, New York’s governor is using drones to track any Jaws wannabes lurking nearby

May 23, 2023, 3:10 PM UTC
New York plans to deploy 10 new drones to patrol the shores of Long Island this summer.
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New York is putting more eyes in the sky to keep watch for sharks along Long Island. Governor Kathy Hochul last Tuesday announced plans to deploy 10 new drones to patrol the shores and watch for the cold-blooded sea creatures. They’ll join a number of other surveillance devices, including eight existing drones, watercraft, and helicopters, that keep a close watch on the waters.

“This year we are taking further action to protect beachgoers by increasing surveillance to monitor for shark activity near beaches off the South Shore,” said Gov. Hochul in a statement. “I encourage all New Yorkers to listen to local authorities, follow guidance and take precautions to ensure a safe and responsible beach trip this summer.”

The waters off of Long Island are often frequented by sharks. Ocearch, a shark tracking service, currently shows 15 tagged sharks in the Atlantic near the destination right now, ranging from hammerheads to blue sharks to white sharks. The biggest, a 434-lb., nine-foot, six-inch white shark called Simon, is hovering near Fire Island and Bellport Bay at the moment.

New York authorities have been using drones for the past two years to look for environmental conditions that could indicate shark activity. Last July, officials reported five shark attacks off Long Island in two weeks, though none of the victims was seriously injured.

Should the drones spot a shark in an area, swimming is suspended at state park beaches in the area for at least one hour. The sighting is also referred to the Long Island Coastal Awareness Group. One of the new drones that will operate this summer is capable of dropping a personal flotation device in case of an emergency.

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