JONES BEACH, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — More shark sightings off the coast of Long Island temporarily shut down two state beaches for swimming Thursday morning.
George Gorman, the regional director for Long Island State Parks, confirmed sand sharks were spotted 300 yards from the shore at Robert Moses State Park at 8:30 a.m., prompting officials to close the waters for swimming.
Shortly after, at 10 a.m., patrols spotted another shark about 700 feet in front of the Central Mall at Jones Beach in Wantagh.
The sightings were confirmed by drones flown by New York State Police, who continued to monitor the sharks for several hours.
Gorman notes that swimming was allowed again at Jones Beach at 10:45 a.m. after the shark left the area. Swimmers were also permitted back into the waters at Robert Moses State Park at around 12:20 p.m.
The sightings came one day after the Town of Hempstead closed all its beaches for swimming after blacktip reef sharks were spotted at Lido Beach, Jones Beach and Long Beach.
Thursday’s sightings off the coast of Long Island also came three days after a lifeguard at Jones Beach reported being bitten by a shark while in the water.
According to officials, a combination of cleaner water and warmer temperatures are drawing more and more sharks to the coast of Long Island.
“The waters are getting warmer as each year goes by – maybe by only one or two degrees – but that's enough to bring more species in, to bring more sharks up the coast. And those warmer waters bring the bait fish and the bunker pods and that's what they're following,” says Chris Stefanou, also known as “The Long Island Shark Man.”
Stefanou catches sharks off the coast of Long Island, tags them and then watches their movements.
He says that over the years he’s seen more and more sharks come up the coast, and recently he’s encountered some new species of sharks, as well.
“I actually tagged a spinner shark the other day, as well as a bull shark so, those guys are coming up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Craig O’Connell, of O’Seas Conservation Foundation, says as locals continue to care for the waters around Long Island, they will likely start to see new marine life in the area.
“It's almost as if the more effort we put in to make the environment healthier, the more wildlife we're gonna have and the healthier the ecosystem is going to be so, we really have to continue moving in this trajectory,” he said.