Department of Environmental Conservation

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Sharks and Public Safety

For more information, visit our Coastal Sharks webpage.

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.

comparison of dorsal fins - shark vs. dolphin vs. sunfish
To minimize the risk of shark interactions when in the water:
  • Avoid swimming in the ocean at dusk, dawn, or night time.
  • 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.
  • Avoid murky water.
  • Avoid isolation. Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups.
  • Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom.
  • Avoid areas where people are fishing.
  • Adhere to all signage at beaches.
  • Always follow instructions of lifeguards and parks staff.
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.

avoid areas with schools of fish or diving birds
avoid areas with seals