New York

Multi-Agency Investigation Underway Into Near-Simultaneous NY Shark Attacks on Children; Photo of Tooth Pulled From Boy's Leg Emerges

The near-simultaneous attacks on the 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy were 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

The sharks that attacked two children at Long Island shores about 4 1/2 miles apart Wednesday may have been drawn in closer to the surf zone because of the larger population of fish and pods of dolphin there, officials said Thursday. 

The wind also kicked up heavier surf, which likely brought sharks closer to the surf zone and kicked up sand in the process -- and when the sharks went to go for fish, they bit the kids instead, Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.

The preliminary findings come after Gov. Cuomo ordered the DEC to lead a multi-agency investigation into the near-simultaneous shark attacks on the 12-year-old girl, Lola Pollina, and 13-year-old boy, Matthew Donaldson, at Sailors Haven and Atlantique Beach.

shark tooth photo inset

In the boy's case, he was boogie boarding at Atlantique Beach before noon when he suddenly stumbled out of the ocean. A lifeguard ran to him and found what appeared to be a shark bite; the tooth was still wedged in the boy's leg.

The DEC said Thursday the tooth was broken and fragmented, and likely came from the bottom jaw of the shark. They could not definitively identify the species of shark, but believe it came from a sandbar tiger shark. 

In the Sailors Haven attack, the girl, 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." 

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"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." 

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.'"

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Most Fire Island beaches were shut down Wednesday as authorities investigated. The town of Islip said its beaches reopened Thursday; added security will include more eyes on the shores and jet ski riders. A chopper will also circle the water for an aerial protective view, a spokeswoman said.

Both children have been released from the hospital and are expected to be OK.

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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