Department of Environmental Conservation

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Sharks and Public Safety

For more information, visit our Coastal Sharks webpage.

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New York's ocean beaches are part of a wild and natural marine ecosystem with a rich diversity of sea life. Humans assume risk whenever they enter any wild environment, whether on land or in the water. When in the ocean, part of this risk includes interacting with apex predators such as sharks.

Although it is impossible to eliminate risk altogether, people can modify their behavior to minimize potential interactions with sharks and reduce overall risk.

To minimize the risk of shark interactions when in the water:

  • Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn, or night time.
  • Avoid murky water.
  • Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
  • Avoid areas with schools of bait fish. These areas are often characterized by fish splashing on the surface; diving terns and gulls; or the presence of marine mammals such as dolphins.
  • Avoid areas with seals.
  • Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.
  • Avoid areas where people are fishing.
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  • Limit splashing and do not wear shiny jewelry.
  • Adhere to all signage at beaches.
  • Always follow instructions of lifeguards and parks staff.

In the event of a shark bite:

  • Call 9-1-1 or tell someone to call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Ensure your environment and surroundings are safe.
  • If you have first aid training, provide "Stop the Bleed" (link leaves DEC's website) care to the injured until help arrives.
  • If you are not directly caring for the individual, seek out first responders and direct them to those individuals involved.
  • Stay out of the water.