Suffolk County officials temporarily closed the beaches at Smith Point County Park and neighboring Cupsogue Beach County Park to swimming Sunday after a shark bit a lifeguard — the second shark attack off Long Island waters in three days.
The beaches are expected to reopen early Monday, where large crowds are expected for the Fourth of July holiday.
“Our expectation is that tomorrow morning on the Fourth of July, the beach will be back open,” Bellone said Sunday during a news conference at Smith Point.
The lifeguard, Zack Gallo, was participating in a training exercise off Smith Point Beach in Shirley at about 10:15 am on Sunday when the 4-to-5-foot shark bit him on the chest, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Gallo, a 10-year lifeguard veteran, was playing the victim in the lifesaving exercise when he was attacked by the shark, Bellone said. The shark also bit Gallo’s right hand as he tried to fend it off. Gallo was able to make it to shore, with assistance from other lifeguards who were also participating in the training, Bellone said.
The lifeguard was taken to South Shore University Hospital for stitches and treatment.
“Fortunately, he is doing well,” Bellone said.
Shark attacks off Long Island shores are rare, according to officials said. A shark was spotted near the Smith Point beach shortly after the attack, Bellone said, although it wasn’t clear if it was the shark that attacked the lifeguard.
The beaches will be closed for swimming for the rest of Sunday and will reopen at 10 am on Monday, and Bellone said people who want to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday at the beaches should not be too concerned about Sunday’s attack. Suffolk Lifeguards will use water scooters, paddle boards and drones to patrol for sharks, in addition to monitoring from the shore.
“People should feel very comfortable and feel very safe coming out to our beaches,” Bellone said.
On Thursday, a 37-year-old man was swimming at 1 pm off Jones Beach at 1 pm when he was bitten on his right foot, possibly by a shark Nassau police said Friday. Medics from the police department’s Emergency Ambulance Bureau responded and identified the injury as a possible shark bite, authorities said.
The man, who was not identified, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where he was treated for his injury, according to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. An update Sunday on his condition was not immediately available.