They’re coming to take a bite of the Big Apple.
Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water: Beaches in Long Island, New York are beefing up security following a surge in shark sightings in the area.
This week, Nassau County officials have begun flying a purple flag with a white shark insignia for 24 hours following the sighting of any shark.
“Our goal, of course, is not to scare people,” County Executive Laura Curran told reporters in a Monday news conference at Nickerson Beach. “But, we do have an obligation to warn our residents and our visitors how to avoid danger.”
The advisory system comes after officials reported a record 26 shark sightings in the area — six more than last year — in a phenomenon Curran has dubbed “the new normal.” Lifeguards reportedly spotted the oceanic predators along Long Island’s South Shore beaches including Jones, Lido, Long, and Nickerson.
Thankfully, most of the species identified in Nassau County are “common sand sharks or thresher sharks, which are not known to attack humans,” Curran reported.
Nevertheless, watchdogs think it’s better to err on the side of caution — especially as a lifeguard reported possibly being mauled by a shark this past June.
In addition to the flags, Nassau has deployed both aerial and beach patrols to keep on the lookout for any of the aquatic predators. Meanwhile, in neighboring Suffolk County, multiple shark reports have prompted officials to close the beaches, Fox News reported.
Scientists have attributed the spike in shark activity to warmer waters, which attract different species of fish to the region.
Shark expert Greg Skomal told the outlet in July that as the critters migrate up the East Coast, they feed closer to shore. This, in turn, increases the chances of a sighting.
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