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2 people bitten by sharks in the same day at New York beaches

These latest attacks, at Smith Point Beach, come less than two weeks after a lifeguard was attack by a shark during a training exercise.

Two people were bitten by sharks on New York beaches just hours apart on Wednesday, officials said.

In the first attack, a shark left an unidentified 41-year-old paddleboarder with a four-inch gash to his leg while in the water of Smith Point Beach in Suffolk County, New York, according to NBC New York.

During a news conference, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the victim identified the shark as a 4-foot-long tiger shark. After being knocked off of his paddleboard and bitten, the man defended himself by punching the shark.

Bellone said that it was by good fortune that just as the shark circled back to the victim, a wave carried him to safety at the shore.

Officials responded to the incident around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday and took the paddleboarder to the hospital.

In a social media post shared soon after the incident, Suffolk County Parks notified visitors that swimming would be suspended due to dangerous marine life activity.

“Notice for Smith Point Beach: Swimming has been suspended at this time due to dangerous marine life activity on Wednesday, July 13, 2022,” the notification read.

The beach, which is located on Fire Island, was reopened to swimmers later that afternoon, according to a tweet from Suffolk County Parks.

Just hours later, another shark attack occurred at the nearby Seaview Beach in Suffolk County. Officials said a 49-year-old man was bitten on his left wrist and buttocks while wading in waist-deep water. He was transported via helicopter to a nearby hospital and is expected to survive, according to NBC New York.

It's unusual to see repeat shark attacks in the same area, says Peter Daniel, a professor of biology at Hofstra University. He thinks that in the case of these recent incidents, sharks may have been attracted the shore by a school of fish.

"If people are out at the same time the sharks are feeding, then that that increases the probability of an encounter," he said.

Wednesday’s attacks are the second and third to occur in the area this year. Less than two weeks ago, a lifeguard participating in a training exercise was also bitten by a shark. At the time of the attack, the lifeguard was playing the part of a victim in a training exercise when the shark attacked and bit him in the chest.

“To have two of these incidents happen for us for this facility for this beach is unprecedented,” Bellone said, speaking before the most recent attack on Wednesday. He added that they have not closed the beach to swimming since opening the park in 1959.

“So to have a second incident like this certainly is not something we would expect. I think it is an indication, however, that what we’re looking at is something of a new normal in that sharks, these tiger sharks, are just a little bit too close to the shore ..."

In addition to warning against going into open waters without lifeguards on duty — particularly during dusk and dawn periods — Bellone told swimmers to steer clear of waters if bleeding and to avoid wearing shiny objects like jewelry.