New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced today that new shark surveillance drones will be deployed in local beach communities on Long Island and New York City, building on the state’s past efforts to improve the safety of beachgoers on state beaches . Gov. Hochul also announced that the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation increased monitoring of the waters in response to shark sightings on July 4, following new shark safety protocols earlier this year were introduced.
“New York has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and I have directed state personnel to do everything possible to ensure the safety of beachgoers this summer,” Gov. Hochul said. “Ahead of the busy summer season, we developed new tools and strategies to monitor marine wildlife and protect the health and safety of New Yorkers. These new drones will increase the shark surveillance capacity of local governments on Long Island and New York City, ensuring local beaches are safe for all beachgoers.”
The new drones will be distributed to all communities in the state by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks). Funds will also be made available to cover the cost of training local staff to operate the drones. Since most of these communities do not have drone surveillance capabilities, this investment will help communities and government agencies along the entire Long Island coast and in New York City improve their shark surveillance efforts.
State Parks hosted a preseason meeting with beach communities and local authorities this spring to provide the latest information on shark activity in upstate New York and discuss coordinated beach alerts. Additionally, last week the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its Guide to Reducing the Risk of Negative Interactions with Sharks .
If sharks are sighted and/or swimmer interactions occur on state park beaches, swimming will be halted and all bathers will be evacuated from the water. Swimming may be resumed at least one hour after the last sighting. State park lifeguards, park police, and park personnel continuously scan and patrol the waters for shark activity.
In addition, the Long Island Coastal Awareness Group, made up of more than 200 people from communities, government agencies and private beach operators from Queens to Long Island, will be notified so they can take appropriate action in their respective jurisdictions.
New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “State park lifeguards, park police and park personnel are on high alert on our Long Island beaches to ensure the safety of visitors. We will continue to use all means at our disposal to look out for sharks and other dangerous marine life.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York’s shores are home to a wild and natural marine ecosystem that supports the annual migration of sharks into our coastal waters. While human-shark interactions are rare, DEC urges the public to follow shark safety guidelines to minimize the risk of negative interactions with sharks this summer.”
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven Nigrelli said: “In the event of a sighting or an emergency such as the incidents that occurred over the weekend of July 4th, NYSP Aviation stands ready to respond quickly and provide assistance as needed . As with our state parks and law enforcement partners, our top priority is the safety of all New Yorkers, and we stand ready to assist them in ensuring beachgoers remain safe.”
In late May, Gov. Hochul announced increased shark surveillance measures for Long Island State Park beaches, which include expanding state park surveillance capabilities:
- The addition of ten drones has more than doubled the eight deployed last year. A new drone assigned to Park Police is a large-scale enterprise model equipped with thermal imaging, laser ranging and high-quality cameras to enable nighttime surveillance and patrols in adverse weather conditions. This drone can also drop personal flotation devices in emergency situations
- Currently, 21 employees are being trained, including park police officers, state park operations personnel, lifeguards, and certified drone operators. Another 12 employees have been trained to be ready for this summer.
- State park environmental educators are conducting shark habitat outreach to humans in Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Sunken Meadow this summer
- Two new Yamaha WaveRunners have been assigned to lifeguards to patrol both Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Parks. These two personal watercraft will join an already operating watercraft at Sunken Meadow State Park
- Additional buffer zones were created between bathing areas and surf areas
- In the event of sightings, the New York State Police Aviation is available to respond if necessary
To minimize the risk of interactions with sharks, the Department of Conservation recommends the following shark safety advice :
- Avoid areas with seals
- Avoid areas with schooling fish, splashing fish or diving seabirds
- Avoid swimming at dusk, night and dawn
- Avoid cloudy water
- Swim, paddle and surf in groups
- Stay close to the shore where your feet can touch the bottom
- Always follow the instructions of the lifeguards and park staff
Man takes a risk every time he enters a wild environment, be it on land or in the water. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk, ocean users can modify their behavior to minimize potential interactions with sharks and reduce overall risk. When in the ocean, follow DEC’s shark safety guidelines to minimize the potential for negative interactions with sharks.