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Woman in stable condition after suffering shark bite while swimming at Rockaway Beach

Aug. 8, 2023 By John Schilling

A 50-year-old woman is in stable condition after suffering a shark bite on her left leg while swimming on Beach 59th Street in Rockaway Beach on Monday evening, according to FDNY officials.

The incident was first reported at 5:52 p.m on Aug. 7, when the woman, who was swimming alone, began calling out for help, according to the FDNY. After lifeguards removed the woman from the water, first responders applied a tourniquet to her leg and provided further first aid before transporting her to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition.

FDNY officials and doctors have confirmed the woman is now in stable condition with a serious, non-life threatening injury. As a result, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation announced Rockaway Beach would be closed on Aug. 8 to swimmers and surfers.Photo courtesy of NYC Parks

“We hope for a full recovery for this swimmer,” NYC Parks Media Relations Director Meghan Lalor released in a statement. “Though this was a frightening event, we want to remind New Yorkers that shark bites in Rockaway are extremely rare. We remain vigilant in monitoring the beach and always clear the water when a shark is spotted.”

Since yesterday’s incident, FDNY officials and doctors have confirmed the woman is now in stable condition with a serious, non-life threatening injury. As a result, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation announced Rockaway Beach would be closed on Tuesday to swimmers and surfers.

“As a safety precaution, Rockaway Beach will be closed to swimming & surfing today, Aug. 8, due to recent shark activity,” NYC Parks released in a statement. “Parks Enforcement & NYPD will be on patrol to keep swimmers out of the water. FDNY & NYPD will be doing aerial surveillance to monitor for sharks.”

After the incident yesterday, the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) flew drones over the water near Beach 59th Street. Early this morning, helicopters flew up and down the beach to monitor the area for further shark activity.

The Aug. 7 incident marks the first documented “shark attack” in New York City since 1958, according to the Global Shark Attack File. Last summer, the entire Rockaway Beach shoreline was closed on July 19 after two shark sightings before reopening shortly after without incident.

Despite the closure, some people still showed up to Rockaway Beach on Tuesday, Aug. 8, with a few going as far as to dip their feet in the water while out of sight of officials monitoring the area.

“We got the news on the phone while we were on our way,” said one beachgoer, who came from Forest Hills with his wife and two kids. “I figured as long as we are careful, we’ll be fine. We’re not going too deep.”

For other beachgoers, however, the Aug. 7 incident is a cause for concern, prompting them to avoid the beach altogether.

“I think I’ll stay out of the water for awhile,” said another beachgoer, who lives nearby. “I just feel bad for the victim,” she added.

This sentiment was shared by the area’s elected officials on Tuesday, including NYC Council members Selvena N. Brooks-Powers and Joann Ariola, who represent the eastern and western halves of the Rockaway peninsula, respectively.

“My thoughts and wishes for a speedy, full recovery goes out to the woman bit in Rockaway Beach by a shark yesterday,” Brooks-Powers said in a statement.

“The FDNY and the NYPD will be conducting aerial monitoring to keep an eye out for any other sharks while we work to find out what may have triggered this attack,” Ariola added. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this tragedy.”

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