A man who was swimming at Jones Beach on Long Island on Thursday may have been bitten by a shark, according to the Nassau County Police Department.
The 57-year-old man was swimming in the ocean around 1 p.m. when he “suffered a laceration in his right foot,” the Nassau Police Department said in a press release on Friday.
Doctors who treated the man’s injury identified it as a possible shark bite. Nassau County officials said they would increase patrols on all county beaches through the weekend of July 4.
Last year, after several shark sightings along Jones Beach and Lido Beach, officials briefly closed several beaches and began boat patrols along the shoreline.
Attacks are exceedingly rare in the area, and many experts say patrols do little more than fuel unwarranted fear of sharks. Scientists say it seems like more sharks are being spotted because more people are looking for them.
Hans Walters, a field scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, said there is no real evidence that local shark populations have increased in recent years. He called the threat sharks pose to people on New York’s beaches “highly exaggerated.”
At a Friday morning news conference on Nickerson Beach, west of Jones Beach, Nassau County Director Bruce Blakeman was vague about the details of the report on the possible attack.
“I believe it was on his leg,” he told reporters, adding that “there was no explanation as to how he sustained his injuries.”
The surgeons who treated the man “thought it looked like a fish bite, probably a shark bite,” Blakeman said.
Asked if the injury was caused by a shark, he said, “It’s not 100 percent, but it was a concern.”
With a police boat watching the ocean behind, Mr. Blakeman suggested that provincial police would begin patrolling more patrols this summer, both by boat and helicopter, with hourly rides along the shoreline.
The county would also monitor with drones over ocean swimmers, he said, “to make sure we have a good picture of what’s going on.”
“We want to emphasize to everyone that it is safe to enter the ocean,” he said, adding that swimmers should always be with friends and with a lifeguard.
Messages left for a New York State Parks spokesperson were not immediately returned and a hospital spokeswoman had no immediate information about the patient.
Along the Jones Beach boardwalk on Friday afternoon, Isabella Mejia, 20, a college student from Whitestone, Queens, recoiled at news of the possible bite.
“It’s crazy to think that would happen here,” she said. “But it’s something that doesn’t happen often, so I’m not really scared. I would still go in the water if there were already a lot of people.”