New York

2 Kids Bitten in NY Shark Attacks; Tooth Sticks in Boy's Leg

The town of Islip has banned swimming at all of its ocean-facing beaches

A boy and a girl were bitten by sharks in separate attacks off Fire Island Wednesday, according to local officials and the father of one of the children.

A spokeswoman from the town of Islip said the 13-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl were bitten off the shores off Atlantique Beach and Sailors Haven -- two beaches about 4 1/2 miles apart -- around 11:15 a.m.

In the Atlantique Beach attack, the boy was boogie boarding when he was bitten, the spokeswoman said. He stumbled out of the ocean; a lifeguard ran to him and discovered the bite.

The wound was dressed and cleaned, according to the spokeswoman, and responders found a tooth lodged in the child's leg. The tooth was removed and is being analyzed to determine the shark species.

In the other attack, Philip Pollina said his daughter was waist deep in the water off Sailors Haven when she began panicking. He said when lifeguards pulled her out of the water she had deep cuts on her leg.

Beach-goers saw what officials think was a sandbar shark -- a shark commonly found along the Atlantic Coast -- about 25 yards offshore. Adult sandbar sharks can grow to be up to 8 feet long, but the 12-year-old girl's father said she thought the shark was only about 2 feet long. Sandbar sharks are known for their large first dorsal fin, and the girl did report seeing a fin before she was attacked. She was able to walk after the attack, but was taken to a hospital.

"Once we figured it out it was pretty surreal," the father said.

The town of Islip has banned swimming at all of its ocean-facing beachesFire Island beaches are managed by multiple local, state and federal jurisdictions. A spokeswoman for Fire Island National Seashore said all the beaches are closed until further notice as authorities investigate.

That spokeswoman, Elizabeth Rogers, also said the bite marks on both victims were found to be "consistent with a large fish," but authorities have "not confirmed" either case as a definitive shark bite.

Shark sightings aren't uncommon on Long Island or at the Jersey Shore, but unprovoked attacks are rare. Since 1837, only 10 shark attacks have been reported in New York. Fifteen have been reported in New Jersey and one in Connecticut.

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