Woman critically injured by rare shark attack in New York City

A 65-year-old woman was swimming at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, on Monday evening when she felt a sharp pain in her left leg. She looked down and saw blood gushing from a large wound that had been inflicted by a shark. She screamed for help and was quickly pulled out of the water by lifeguards, who applied a tourniquet to her leg and called for an ambulance. She was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she remained in critical condition as of Tuesday morning.

Woman critically injured by rare shark

How rare is this?

Shark attacks are extremely rare in New York City, especially ones that cause such severe injuries. According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, this was the most serious shark attack in New York waters since at least the 1950s. The last fatal shark attack in New York occurred in 1926, when a 12-year-old boy was killed by a bull shark near Coney Island.

The experts who examined the bite mark on the woman’s leg said it was most consistent with a juvenile white shark, though it could have also been a bull shark or a sandbar shark. These sharks can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds. They are usually found in deeper waters, but they may venture closer to shore in search of food or warmer temperatures.

Why are sharks coming closer to shore?

One possible reason for the increase in shark sightings and encounters near the coast of New York is the abundance of bait fish, such as menhaden, that have flourished under recent conservation efforts. These small fish attract larger predators, such as sharks, dolphins, and whales, that feed on them. Another factor could be climate change, which may alter the migration patterns and habitats of marine animals.

Sharks are not inherently aggressive or malicious creatures. They are curious and opportunistic hunters that may mistake humans for their natural prey, such as seals or fish. Most shark bites are exploratory or defensive, rather than predatory or fatal. However, even a single bite from a large shark can cause serious damage or infection.

How to prevent shark attacks?

The best way to avoid shark attacks is to stay out of the water when sharks are most active, which is usually at dawn and dusk. It is also advisable to avoid swimming near areas where bait fish are abundant, such as piers, jetties, or fishing boats. Wearing bright or contrasting colors, jewelry, or shiny objects may also attract sharks’ attention. Swimming in groups, staying close to shore, and avoiding erratic movements can also reduce the risk of being bitten.

If a shark is spotted nearby, it is important to remain calm and alert. Do not panic or splash around, as this may provoke the shark or signal distress. Try to maintain eye contact with the shark and slowly back away towards safety. If the shark attacks, fight back by hitting it on the nose, eyes, or gills with any available object or your fists. Seek medical attention as soon as possible after a bite.

What is being done to protect swimmers?

The authorities have temporarily closed Rockaway Beach to swimming and surfing on Tuesday as a precautionary measure. They have also deployed drones and helicopters to monitor the area for any signs of sharks. They have advised the public to follow the instructions of lifeguards and park rangers and to report any shark sightings to 911.

The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a statement: “We hope for a full recovery for this swimmer. Though this was a frightening event, we want to remind New Yorkers that shark bites in Rockaway are extremely rare.”

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