Atlantic Beach lifeguards monitor water after shark attacks on Rockaway and Long Island


Sharks are not looking to share the ocean this summer. A beachgoer in Queens had an encounter with the formidable fish earlier this month, raising concerns for local swimmers.

Tatyana Koltunyuk, 65, was swimming at Rockaway Beach around 6 p.m. Aug. 7, when she felt a pain in her left leg, causing a fall, according to police. It is believed that a shark attacked her, leaving a gaping wound, several inches wide and deep, according to news reports

The beach rescue team removed the woman from the water and applied a tourniquet to her left thigh, which suffered a laceration. Koltunyuk was brought to Jamaica Hospital in a critical state, but has recovered after undergoing sweveral surgeries. 

It is estimated that the shark took off about 20 pounds of flesh.

Rockaway Beach was closed to swimmers and surfers the following day. City parks enforcement, the New York Police Department and New York City Fire Department worked together to keep swimmers out of the water and scan for sharks.

Two days later, Rockaway Beach reopened, with fire and police department drones looking for sharks and schools of fish that they may be following.

City fire department units will continue scanning 10 miles of Rockaway Beach and police units will be looking at the Rockaway beaches, Coney Island, Orchard Beach and potentially Staten Island, according to NYPD Inspector, Frank DiGiacomo told one news outlet that, along with harbor units, helicopters, lifeguards and other resources in order to alert swimmers as soon as possible of any threats. The monitoring will be throughout the day, as well as before and after beach closing.

Atlantic Beach village, just a few miles east of Rockaway, has been putting shark-monitoring practices into play as well. Senior Lt. Lifeguard, Daniel Majikas, said that the village does not use drones, but more shore measures to patrol its eight beaches.

“We monitor from the stands, we have binoculars,” he said.

“We survey out in the kayaks and on paddle boards.”

Lifeguards on duty at Atlantic Beach also remain in contact with Nassau County helicopter patrols that will report if they see any shark activity in the local waters.

The Village of Atlantic Beach has a total of 28 lifeguards in their crew, three rotating through each shift on the lifeguard stand, Majikas said in an email. They patrol beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

At Atlantic Beach, if an attack where to occur, Majikas said lifeguards will prioritize getting paramedics to the scene and taking necessary measures given the severity of the attack.

The Rockaway Beach shark attack comes as the first since the 1950s and arguably the most serious in New York since then as reported by NBC New York. Earlier this summer, swimmers at Rockaway Beach were advised to leave the water due to a shark sighting in June.

According to CNN, just one day after the Rockaway attack, there were three possible shark sightings at Jones Beach, where lifeguards have been patrolling, along with other measures taken to spot sharks before an attack.

Other towns on Long Island, such as Oyster Bay, have drones patrolling the waters for the first time this year according to published reports. They also have provided lifeguards with special training to identify sharks.