Authorities are using drones to monitor Long Island waters following a flurry of recent incidents with sharks off New York shores. Earlier this week, five people reported being bitten by sharks at popular beaches. In response to encounters there and in other police jurisdictions, the Suffolk County Police Department said it would increase its shark patrols, using drones for an aerial view.

“While residents are encouraged to enjoy the summer at the beach, swimmers should remain vigilant when in the water. If you see a shark, or a pod of bunker fish that attract the predators, calmly exit the water and alert the lifeguard on duty or a local official,” the department said on Facebook.

Cary Epstein, lifeguarding supervisor, operates a drone during takeoff for a shark patrol flight at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.
Cary Epstein, lifeguarding supervisor, operates a drone during takeoff for a shark patrol flight at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.

“We are now more vigilant than ever,” George Gorman, the state’s park director in Long Island, told The Associated Press. “We have drones in the sky that watch over the waters. We have lifeguards on WaveRunners that watch over the waters.”

A sighting of a 10-foot-long shark led officials to keep people out of the water at Robert Moses State Park on Thursday. Data from the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History International Shark Attack File shows New York had the second-most unprovoked shark bites in the country last year.

Cary Epstein, lifeguarding supervisor, monitors the waters from above as he operates a drone for a shark patrol flight at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.
Cary Epstein, lifeguarding supervisor, monitors the waters from above as he operates a drone for a shark patrol flight at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.

Even without serious injuries, Gorman said he and others are concerned about a rise in these cases. Before 2022, New York had only recorded a dozen unprovoked bites.

The U.S. recorded the most unprovoked shark bites in 2022, with 41 confirmed cases, although that number is lower than in 2021.

Revelers bath in the shallows as a shark patrol flight is conducted overhead at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.
Revelers bathe in the shallows as a shark patrol flight is conducted overhead at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the addition of 10 drones earlier this year, bringing the total to 18. At Jones Beach, the drones make sweeps three times a day. Around a dozen species of sharks are said to swim off Long Island. Drone footage on July 4 spotted what officials initially feared were sand sharks in the water near Robert Moses State Park, though the New York State Parks Department told Fox News on Friday that it actually was another species of fish.

Lifeguards ride a jet ski during a shark patrol run at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.
Lifeguards ride a jet ski during a shark patrol run at Jones Beach State Park, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Wantagh, New York.

Sand sharks are unlikely to attack humans unless provoked, according to scientists. Some say an increase in sightings might suggest a healthier ecosystem, with cleaner waters allowing small fish sharks feed on to thrive.

NYNNC is a reporter for Fox News and Fox Business Digital.

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