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Officials Launch New Warning System After Record Number Of Shark Sightings On Long Island

Beaches in Nassau County on Long Island introduced a new shark warning flag system after a record number of shark sightings, officials announced on Monday.

A purple flag with a white shark silhouette will fly for 24 hours at the beaches where shark sightings were reported, Fox 5 New York reported

“Our goal, of course, is not to scare people,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said at a press conference on Monday. “But we do have an obligation to warn our residents and our visitors how to avoid danger.”

“Most of the sharks that we have been able to identify so far this year have been common sand sharks or thresher sharks, which are not known to attack humans,” Curran said.

Lifeguards have spotted sharks along the south shore of Long Island 26 times this year, specifically at Lido, Long and Nickerson beaches, according to Fox 5.

Two sightings took place at Jones Beach Monday morning, and a lifeguard claims he was attacked in June, according to New York’s ABC affiliate.

The shark sightings in the area are not a new phenomenon, and the increased numbers indicate healthier waters, Chris Fisher, founder of OCEARCH, told Fox 5.

“Whether you see one or not, we’re all swimming with them all of the time,” Fisher said. “I think in the past we were living in a depleted ocean and now that it’s returning to abundance, people need to know the environment they’re going in.”

Between 1970 and 1979, 157 shark bites were recorded around the world, according to Fox 5. That number has increased to 800 between 2010 and 2019.

The flag system is already used in Massachusetts and Maine, according to Fox 5.

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