New York

2 Kids Bitten in Separate Shark Attacks off Long Island Shores; Boy Has Tooth Pulled From His Leg

Most Fire Island beaches were shut down after the near-simultaneous attacks at shores about 4 1/2 miles apart

What to Know

  • Two children were bitten by sharks in separate attacks off the shore of Fire Island, according to officials and the dad of one of the kids
  • Neither the 13-year-old boy nor the 12-year-old girl appeared to be seriously hurt in the attacks off of Atlantique Beach and Sailors Haven
  • The father of one of the girl said witnessing the attack was "pretty surreal;" a tooth pulled from the boy's leg was sent for species tests

UPDATE: Photo of Tooth Pulled From Boy's Leg Emerges; Multi-Agency Probe Launched Into NY Shark Attacks

A boy and a girl were bitten by sharks in separate attacks off Fire Island Wednesday, according to local officials and the father of one of the children. 

A spokeswoman from the town of Islip said the 13-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl were bitten off the shores off Atlantique Beach and Sailors Haven -- two beaches about 4 1/2 miles apart -- around 11:15 a.m. 

In the Atlantique Beach attack, the boy was boogie boarding when he was bitten, the spokeswoman said. He stumbled out of the ocean; a lifeguard ran to him and discovered the bite.

"We had him under our test and were administering first aid -- that's when we noticed the puncture wounds and we figured it was shark bite right away," said Craig Amarando, a town of Islip lifeguard. 

The wound was dressed and cleaned, and responders found a tooth lodged in the child's leg. The tooth was removed and is being analyzed to determine the shark species. 

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In the other attack, the girl, Lola, said she was waist-deep in the water off Sailors Haven.

"The water was cold, so I didn't really feel anything," she told reporters. "And then I saw something like next to me, and I kind of felt pain. And I looked and I saw, like, a fin, kind of. I don't know how to describe it." 

"It was just like a quick kind of pull," she said later. "I was kind of in like shock, almost, 'cause it pulled and I kind of looked at it and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh." 

Lola said she started running out of the water, and the shark started swimming away, "like a whirlpool-looking thing next to me." 

She ran out to her mother with a bloody leg, and the two ran to the lifeguards, who bandaged it and helped them.

"I kind of thought it was a dream," she said. "I didn't really think it was actually happening until, like, I was just like, 'Well, this just happened.'"

Lola's father, Philip Pollina, said he was watching as his daughter was bitten. 

"I couldn't process what was going on at first," he said. "You're just watching this happen, it's not competing until I saw her come out -- like, holy, I can't believe what just happened kind of thing." 

Coincidentally, Lola is signed up to go to camp in several weeks at Atlantique Beach, where the boy was bitten Wednesday. Her mother says she's "gung-ho" to go. 

"I'm fine," Lola said, adding that the bite wounds weren't painful. 

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Beach-goers saw what officials think was a sandbar shark -- a shark commonly found along the Atlantic Coast -- about 25 yards offshore. Adult sandbar sharks can grow to be up to 8 feet long, but the 12-year-old girl's father said she thought the shark was only about 2 feet long. Sandbar sharks are known for their large first dorsal fin, and the girl did report seeing a fin before she was attacked. She was able to walk after the attack, but was taken to a hospital.

"Once we figured it out it was pretty surreal," the father said.

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The town of Islip has banned swimming at all of its ocean-facing beaches.

"We're seeing this as an opportunity to remind everyone the water is beautiful, it is magnificent here on the South Shore of Long Island, but the water is treacherous," said Angie Carpenter, town supervisor. "We need to be careful at all times." 

Fire Island beaches are managed by multiple local, state and federal jurisdictions. A spokeswoman for Fire Island National Seashore said all the beaches are closed until further notice as authorities investigate. 

That spokeswoman, Elizabeth Rogers, also said the bite marks on both victims were found to be "consistent with a large fish," but authorities have "not confirmed" either case as a definitive shark bite.

Shark sightings aren't uncommon on Long Island or at the Jersey Shore, but unprovoked attacks are rare. Since 1837, only 10 shark attacks have been reported in New York. Fifteen have been reported in New Jersey and one in Connecticut.

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