Sharks make for great movie villains and relationship metaphors, but you're about as likely to be attacked by one as you are likely to be struck by lightning. Nevertheless, New York beaches around Long Island have seen a surprising uptick in shark sightings this week, with at least eight such sightings that have happened along South Shore beaches since Monday. And one person even caught a 400 pound bull shark!
TJ Minutillo, a 21-year-old college student living in Manhasset, told the NY Post he caught an 8-foot long bull shark at Nickerson Beach last weekend. He estimated that he has caught around 300 sharks since he began big-game fishing, but this shark, estimated to be between 375 and 400 pounds, was by far the biggest he's ever encountered. He says he released his catch after taking a few photos, which you can see above.
“Most of the time they’re harmless,” Minutillo said of the uptick in sharks in the area. “But freak things happen sometimes.”
On Wednesday, sharks were sighted at Lido West Beach and Nickerson Beach, forcing several beaches in the area to be closed to swimming for parts of the day. "You can come down here, enjoy somewhat of a breeze on a hot day but right now unfortunately you can't swim in the water," Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said. One 18-year-old lifeguard who spotted a shark said it was just 15-20 feet off the shoreline and about 6 feet long.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters that they have launched enhanced aerial helicopter patrols over Nassau coastlines "to keep an eye out for anything potentially lurking under the water."
"We have to remind everyone that most sharks are not looking for trouble, and shark attacks are still extremely rare," she added. But officials aren't sure how many bull sharks may be in the area, and they "have aggressive tendencies, and they do prefer shallow water, and that means they can come into contact with humans."
As for tips on how to avoid sharks, she said people should stay close to shore, swim in groups and avoid swimming at dusk and dawn.
You can see a few more videos of shark sightings off of Long Island in recent days below:
On Monday, a New York City woman was killed while swimming off the coast of Maine by a great white shark. The victim, 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowachm, was swimming with her daughter about 20 yards off the shore of Bailey Island when she was attacked, officials said.
Friends and family have been paying tribute to her, while the Coast Guard continues to monitor the waters off of Maine. Experts told the Associated Press the shark may have attacked because it mistook her for a seal.