Wild footage shows a man wrestling a thrashing shark out of the water at a Long Island beach, the latest in a string of shark sightings and bites across New York beaches this summer.
The clip, which has been shared widely on social media, shows a man in swim trunks trying to haul an angry shark onshore at Smith Point Beach on Fire Island, the site of two other shark sightings in July.
An onlooker can be heard screaming and saying, “Holy sh**.”
Emily Murray told The New York Post she was the one who filmed the scene.
“He [the man] had been fishing and caught the shark by accident,” she told the Post. “He was attempting to unhook it and cut it free.”
Photos from the scene later showed another man helping the fisherman free the shark, believed to be a mid-sized sand tiger shark, which swam away happily.
Still, the incident left an impression on Murray, who added, “I feel like we’ve all gotten used to it [shark sightings].”
New York has been positively swimming in shark encounters this season. There have been at least six shark bites since July off Long Island. In early July, a lifeguard in training was bitten on the chest and hand by a five-foot long shark. Later that month, two oceangoers were bitten on the same day, including a surfer who suffered a gash on the leg. All those involved survived their injuries.
The bites have caused temporary beach closures, as well as increased lifegaurd patrols and concern from officials.
“As New Yorkers and visitors alike head to our beautiful Long Island beaches to enjoy the summer, our top priority is their safety,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul previously said in a statement in July. “We are taking action to expand patrols for sharks and protect beachgoers from potentially dangerous situations. I encourage all New Yorkers to listen to local authorities and take precautions to help ensure safe and responsible beach trips this summer.”
As The Independent reported in its investigation into the recent spate of shark encounters, a complicated mix of factors are driving the seeming spike in shark sightings across the country.
Climate change is pushing sharks into new locations, and social media is allowing people to become aware of shark encounters in a way they never have before. Combined, it can feel as though sharks are everywhere at the beach.
The reality, however, is that shark encounters of all kind remain extremely rare, and fatal ones even more so.
“I’m incredibly struck by how rare shark attacks are. There are lots of sharks out there. That’s where they live and they’re pretty numerous. Any time anybody goes in the water for an any amount of time, you’ve probably been within a few hundred yards of a shark,” Professor F Joel Fodrie of the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences told The Independent. “That’s amazing to me. There’s millions of people spending millions of hours in the water.”
California provides a great example of this phenomenon.
Across the state, with its 39 million people, 3,427-mile coastline, and thriving beach culture, there have only been 203 total shark incidents, 15 of them fatal, since 1950, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
“As far as our data show, there’s no increased risk to people in the water, even in those areas where we’re seeing more and more frequent sharks. There’s lots of evidence that the sharks aren’t terribly interested in people and will even avoid people if approached,” John Ugoretz, environmental programme manager for the CDFW, told The Independent. “It’s clear that the number of injuries and importantly fatalities really doesn’t look like it’s changed much since at least the 1970s, and that’s along with the use of the ocean increasing pretty dramatically over that time.”
Humans have a far greater impact on the life of sharks than vice versa.
Unlike the fisherman filmed on Long Island on Sunday, people kill an estimated 100 million sharks per year, usually incidentally as part of fishing for other species, or in expensive and often ineffective shark culls.