ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Beaches reopened Thursday morning as two children recover from apparent shark bites off Fire Island.
The 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy were swimming at two separate beaches Wednesday less than five miles apart when they were attacked.
The first incident happened at Sailors Haven Beach where 12-year-old Lola Pollina was swimming in waist deep water with her younger brother.
“It was like this tannish, orangey looking body and this small fin on top,” she said. “When I got out, my leg was bloody.”
“When I looked back, I see her in the water struggling,” her mother, Barbara Pollina said.
Lifeguards bandaged Lola’s leg and she was taken to the hospital. Elizabeth Rogers, a spokeswoman for Fire Island National Seashore, said the girl suffered bite marks “consistent with a large fish.”
Then just minutes later, a 13-year-old boy was boogie boarding at a day camp on Atlantique Beach when something latched onto his leg.
“I brought him out of the water. He had blood on his leg,” a lifeguard said.
“I didn’t think about it till we got out of the water and saw lifeguards wrapping his leg up, blood all over the place,” one camper said.
EMTs pulled a tooth from one of the deep gashes around his knee.
“A tooth was found in the bite wound, consistent with a large fish,” said Rogers.
Thursday afternoon, officials confirmed it was from a sand tiger shark.
In the midst of it all, a shark sighting was reported at Robert Moses, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
“Everyone started to panic, all the kids were like what’s happening and all the parents were like, we’re gonna leave and they just left,” said worker Amanda Vasile-Cozzo. “The beach was just empty for the rest of the day.”
Thursday morning, a spokesperson for the Town of Islip said a fisherman on Fire Island caught an eight-foot shark about 50 yards from Atlantique Beach. At least two other sharks have been pulled from the water there in the last two days. It’s not know if any of them were the same shark from the Wednesday attacks.
Meanwhile, one family getting ready to board the ferry to Fire Island Thursday never thought they had to worry about sharks.
“That hits so close to home. It’s concerning,” said Dix Hills resident Matthew Loboseo. “I’m definitely gonna think twice. It’s just not worth putting her at risk.”
Officials call these incidents incredible rare, but say summer is shark mating season and anything is possible.
“Sharks are afraid of humans. They do not want to be near humans. They are part of the natural environment,” said State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “We just urge anyone at the beach to be aware, be smart.”
“If there was other food fish in the area where these kids were swimming, especially if they were younger ones, they are learning, they are inquisitive, and they may have just come up and just sampled and said, ‘oh no, no thank you,’ and then swam off,” Joseph Yaiullo, curator at the Long Island Aquarium, said.
“Avoid usually like mornings, dawn and dusk periods where the light is low. Sharks will often feed during that time as well,” he added.
Wednesday evening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed DEC officers to investigate the waters where the attacks happened.
Officials said the beaches reopened for swimming Thursday morning with additional lifeguards monitoring the water.
Both children are expected to make full recoveries.