New York State goes on shark alert for summer


The shark search is on!

Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new supply of drones and technology that will aid in monitoring sharks off the South Shore this summer, alleviating concerns as summertime nears.

Ten new drones with shark-tracking capabilities will fly in the sky this summer around Long Island’s state beaches, primarily the South Shore beaches.

The new fleet joins the eight drones that are currently in operation on beaches across Long Island.

“This year, we are taking further action to protect beachgoers by increasing surveillance to monitor for shark activity near beaches off the South Shore,” Hochul said in a statement.

“With New Yorkers and visitors alike preparing to enjoy our beautiful Long Island beaches all summer long, their safety is our top priority,” she said.

Additionally, one of the drones allows for nighttime surveillance, with features like thermal imaging, laser range finding, and high-quality cameras.

In emergency situations, the drone can drop personal safety devices as well.

The Governor’s office also clarified that another ten of the drones have similar thermal imaging capabilities. The entire fleet of 18 total drones also has camera surveillance technology.

“It’s a great idea, I’d love to see how it comes through for people’s safety,” reacted Long Beach resident Michael Pontecorvo.

The Department of Environmental Conservation urged swimmers to continue awareness of their surroundings, adding that swimmers should avoid areas where seals, seabirds and schools of fish are present.

“I always get anxiety when I see those schools of fish off the shore,” said Cynthia Vitere, a Long Beach resident.

“It’s believed that the negative interactions that’ve occurred have been the result of sharks misidentifying prey,” a DEC official added.

Drones will be operated by a crew of 21 state workers, comprised of Park Police officers, state park operational staff, lifeguards and certified drone operators. Over ten more will be trained by the Fourth of July.

Hochul also announced that two additional Yamaha WaveRunners will be in commission along the South Shore, with lifeguards at both Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Parks patrolling the waters. A similar watercraft is already in use at Sunken Meadow State Park.

Officials added that State Parks Environmental Educators will be holding additional public outreach regarding shark habitats at the likes of Jones Beach and Robert Moses.

In the case of probable shark sightings, both State Park Police along with DEC Police Officers are available to patrol areas. New York State Police Aviation will be available to respond as needed.

“New York State Police is ready to assist our partners in keeping beachgoers and our waters safe this season,” said Acting State Police Superintendent Steven Nigrelli. “In the event of a sighting or incident, NYSP Aviation is prepared to provide swift support as needed.”