Swimming remains banned or restricted at a number of Long Island beaches following a series of shark sightings over the last few days, one of which involved the largest bull shark the town of Hempstead has seen in years.
People were allowed to go in the ocean up as high as their waists at all beaches in Hempstead Wednesday morning, officials said, but later in the afternoon all the town's beaches were closed once again due to multiple shark sightings. A life guard spotted one at Point Lookout, while another one reported Wednesday was by Hempstead lifeguards at Nickerson Beach, and everyone was ordered out of the water.
"I saw the fin of the shark and it was hunting for rays, which is pretty normal," said Ethan Grassini, who spotted the marine predator.
Another shark was spotted at nearby Tobay Beach on Thursday, about 35 yards from shore. Officials said it appeared to be another bull shark.
Nassau police have sent in resources to help spot sharks along the South Shore, deploying two police helicopters that will make multiple passes along the beaches to keep an eye out for more of the animals.
Two sightings were reported in Nassau County Tuesday -- at East Atlantic Beach and Point Lookout, officials said. What appeared to be a bull shark was spotted around 3 p.m. off Jones Beach, according to the New York State Parks Department.
Life guard Connor Byrne spotted the one at East Atlantic Beach on Tuesday, with around a dozen swimmers witnessing it as well.
"I've never seen a shark so close to shore before. Depth is probably only knee- to waist-deep, so it was definitely scary," Byrne said.
A day earlier, swimmers were ordered out of the water Monday at Lido West and Nickerson beaches in Hempstead after a pair of shark sightings. There were reports it was a large bull shark between 7 and 10 feet long. Town officials say they haven't seen a shark that size in the area in at least four years.
The shark may have chomped on a sea skate but hasn't been blamed for any attacks on humans. It wasn't clear if both sightings were the same shark. Nassau County is using helicopters to better monitor its beaches for potential threats.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo even addressed the recent spate of shark sightings on Long Island on Wednesday, telling reporters on a conference call the state would look into it, but he was confident New York could handle anything that comes its way.
"I've learned through COVID there is no crisis we can't handle," he said.
Separately, a New York City woman was killed in a rare great white shark attack off the coast of Maine earlier this week. She was identified as 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowach, the Maine Department of Marine Resources said. The shark attacked her about 60 feet off Bailey Island Monday while she was swimming in a wetsuit.
The Maine Marine Patrol said a witness saw Holowach swimming off the shore of Bailey Island when she was bitten, with the shark likely confusing her for a seal. The group later said in a press conference that "wearing anything dark could mimic a seal," but it's not something they had ever had to consider in the state.
Holowach's daughter was with her when the shark attacked, but she was able to escape safely.
It was the first deadly shark attack ever in Maine, and only the second attack there in 200 years. The only other previously recorded unprovoked shark attack in the state was 10 years ago off Eastport, officials said.