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Safe To Go Back In The Water? Shark Sighting Sparks Caution Among Swimmers

Experts Say Attacks Are Rare, And That Drowing Is A Far More Serious Threat

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s not the first time that it has happened, but there was a recent shark sighting at Atlantic Beach in Hempstead, and evidence shows that it may be the second sighting inside of a week.

Images of the supposed shark show a long, dark shape in the waves, and a fin sticking out of the surf. Beachgoers reported seeing it on Wednesday and again on Monday afternoon.

“Huge tail, huge mouth, definitely,” Ryan Surkes told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis. “It ate another fish.”

Surke said he was in the water when out of nowhere the shark appeared some 10 feet away.

Linda Klein said she saw the shark, too, and immediately decided to cut her beach trip short.

“I mean it’s hard to see, but you could kind of see like something darker than the water, kind of like moving, moving, moving,” she said.

Shark sightings have been reported in the water near Atlantic Beach twice in the past week. (Credit: Handout)

Shark sightings have been reported in the water near Atlantic Beach twice in the past week. This shark was spotted on July 24, 2013. (Credit: Rick Weinstock/Atlantic Beach Manager/Lifeguard)

The latest reports are similar to a sighting that was caught on camera, lifeguards told CBS 2. A photographer snapped a series of pictures while the water was being cleared of swimmers.

“We blew people out of the water. We advised them there was a report from a credible witness that there was a shark in the water,” lifeguard John Madden said.

“Even if we don’t see it, we still have to take precautions and close the water,” lifeguard Hank Ottolia said.

Shark sightings are common in the ocean off of New York at this time of the year, lifeguards explained. They’re attracted by warm water and smaller fish.

“There’s a lot of bait in the water, a lot of bunker jumping around, and the sharks like to chase the bunker, so if there’s bait fish, there’s sharks,” Ottolia said.

The explanation did little to calm the nerves of beachgoers.

“Yeah, no it was, everyone was like looking and pointing,” Klein said. “It was like really crazy.”

Lifeguards temporarily closed swimming at Atlantic Beach for a half an hour after the shark sighting. Swimming was allowed to resume because lifeguards never saw the shark themselves.

Swimmers shouldn’t panic about the recent shark sightings. Experts told CBS 2 that beach goers are 1,000 times more likely to drown than get attacked by a shark. The chances of being killed in a shark attack are 1 in 300 million.

Sharks can smell even tiny amounts of blood from more than a mile away, so experts advised swimmers to stay out of the water if they are bleeding.

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