Growing numbers of bait fish, as well as the larger species that eat them, including sharks, have been attracted to the area off the shore of Long Island, New York, in recent years due to warmer and cleaner waters. It’s a positive development for the environment in some aspects. The situation is different for beachgoers, swimmers, and surfers.
Safety officials are increasing the use of drones at one New York beach to try and prevent potentially harmful confrontations between humans and sharks.
Gov. Kathy Hochul stated on Friday that dozens of new shark-monitoring drones would be dispatched to New York beach towns due to an increase in incidences.
“With New Yorkers and visitors alike preparing to enjoy our beautiful Long Island beaches all summer long, their safety is our top priority,” Hochul said in May. “This year we are taking further action to protect beachgoers by increasing surveillance to monitor for shark activity near beaches off the South Shore.”
Even though the tracking program was put into place in 2017, recent shark attacks on beaches in New York have given it a heightened feeling of urgency. A shark bit a 65-year-old woman at Queens’ Rockaway Beach, sending her to the hospital. After this occurrence, shark sightings were suspected on three additional instances a Jones Beach, two of which were first discovered by drones.
According to Dan Keefe, spokesman for New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the program will provide up to $1 million to purchase 42 drones and aid with staff training to deploy them. Long Island beaches will receive about half of the cash, while Westchester County and New York City beaches would each receive around the same amount.
The governor stated that the additional buffer zones between bathing places and fishing areas, new jet skis, and more trained employees that were revealed in May as part of the Long Island State Park beaches’ strengthened shark protection measures, will be built upon by the new drones.