Department of Environmental Conservation

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Sharks and Public Safety

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. View helpful tips on sharks and public safety (PDF).

Minimize Risk of Shark Interactions:

graphic of a seal approaching a swimmer graphic of person swimming with diving birds above

  • Avoid areas with seals.
  • Avoid areas with schools of bait fish, often characterized by fish splashing on the surface, diving sea birds, or the presence of marine mammals such as dolphins.
  • Avoid areas where people are fishing.

graphic of dusk, night and dawn ocean graphic of murky water

  • Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn, or night time.
  • Avoid murky water.

graphic of people surfing and swimming in groups graphic of someone swimming close to shore

  • Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
  • Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.

graphic of lifeguard

  • Always follow instructions of lifeguards and parks staff.
  • Adhere to all signage at beaches.
In the event of a shark bite:
  • Ensure your environment and surroundings are safe.
  • Call 9-1-1 or tell someone to call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • If you have first aid training, provide "Stop the Bleed" (link leaves DEC's website) 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.

shark fin identification