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Sharks at Robert Moses: Dead shark washes ashore, other sightings halt swimming at Fields 4 and 5

Hours after a sand tiger shark washed ashore dead at Robert Moses Field 5 early Wednesday, state officials said large schools of bait fish — and possibly sharks — had been spotted off the ocean beaches at fields 4 and 5, leading to a swimming ban at the fields.

New York States Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Long Island Regional Director George Gorman said that a drone operator “saw a large school of bait and bunker fish” in the waters off Field 5 and that “within that school there was the possibility of two sharks.”

Gorman said that, additionally, lifeguards at Field 4 believe they may have spotted a shark in the area.

Those reports followed the discovery of a 6-foot-long dead shark found washed ashore earlier Wednesday at Field 5. A marine biologist from the state Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed it was a sand tiger shark.

Online marine research websites state that “despite its fearsome appearance,” sand tiger sharks are known to be “placid” and “slow-moving” and that, to date, the species has never been involved in any recorded human fatalities.

The National Aquarium said in an overview on sand tiger sharks: “Despite their intimidating appearance, they are not aggressive toward humans unless threatened.” The MarineBio Conservation Society said sand tiger sharks feed on bony fishes, small sharks, rays, squid, crabs and lobsters — but are not viewed as a threat to humans. They are listed as a vulnerable species, facing a “high risk” of extinction in the wild.

Shark sightings and encounters have become more common at Long Island beaches in recent years. New York’s waters went from one shark encounter in 2012 to a record eight shark bites last year off Long Island and five reported bites so far this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul said last month.

A dead 6-foot sand tiger shark was pulled out of...

A dead 6-foot sand tiger shark was pulled out of the water at Robert Moses State Park Beach Field 5 on Wednesday.
Credit: Arianna Keating

Hochul last month announced that the state was providing more drones to Long Island and New York City to help increase shark monitoring after five swimmers reportedly were bitten on the South Shore over the Fourth of July weekend.


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