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Two shark attacks reported in one day off Long Island

The attacks happened at Smith Point and Seaview on Fire Island, a barrier island off New York's Long Island.

Two people were injured in apparent shark attacks off Long Island on Wednesday, neither of which was life-threatening, authorities said.

A 49-year-old Arizona man was bitten on the wrist and the buttocks in waist-deep water off Seaview Beach around 6 p.m., Suffolk County police said.

Earlier in the day, about 20 miles away, a shark bit a paddleboarder near Smith Point, which, like Seaview, is on Fire Island, officials said.

Swimming was suspended at Smith Point Beach on Wednesday morning for a second time this month after a shark bit a surfer.
Swimming was suspended at Smith Point Beach on Wednesday morning for a second time this month after a shark bit a surfer.NBC New York

The person was knocked off a paddleboard about 7:30 a.m. and suffered a 4-inch gash to the leg, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

The person punched the shark, which was said to be a tiger shark about 4 feet long, and a wave pushed the person back to shore and away from the animal, Bellone said.

Searchers looked for the shark, but there had been no sightings, he said at a news conference. The beach was reopened later Wednesday.

The incident at Smith Point happened 10 days after a lifeguard there was bitten by a shark. The lifeguard was expected to return to work next week, Bellone said.

The guard was playing a victim in a training exercise when he was bitten in the chest, NBC New York reported. It was the first reported shark attack at the site since Smith Point County Park opened in 1959.

Suffolk County said shark attacks off Long Island are exceedingly rare.

Only 12 unprovoked shark attacks have been confirmed in New York, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File, which tracks and investigates encounters between people and sharks.

There were two nonfatal attacks off Fire Island in 2018, at least one of which involved a sand tiger shark, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

In those cases, there were lots of Atlantic menhaden in the area, which are prey of sharks, and the bites are not believed to have been intentional, the department says.