A juvenile great white shark that washed up on a Long Island beach last week has been recovered by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Beachgoers in the town of Quogue, New York, first reported the shark on July 20 to local authorities, who were able to photograph the startling sight of a 6-foot-long great white resting upright in the sand—jaws agape as if in mid-attack—before it washed back out to sea. It was later recovered on July 21, about 10 miles away near Southampton.
The incident is the latest in a string of shark sightings and shark attacks that have put beach towns in the area on high alert this summer. On May 31, according to a Fox News report, a 400-pound mako shark was found thrashing on a Long Island beach and later died despite multiple rescue attempts. Since then, a “possible shark bite” was reported at Jones Beach on July 1, a lifeguard was bitten by a shark at Smith County Beach on July 3, a paddleboarder was bitten in the leg at Smith Point Beach on July 13, and hours later a man was attacked from behind by a shark in waist-deep water at Seaview Beach. On July 20, the same day the dead shark was discovered, a teen was bitten by a shark while surfing off Fire Island. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
Despite the rash of shark bites this summer, officials say the odds of being attacked by a shark are still very low, and that human-shark conflicts are likely the result of mistaken identity.
“White sharks and all of the sharks that are here on Long Island are only here to feed on small bait fish,” said Captain Greg Metzger, chief field coordinator for the South Fork Natural History Museum Shark Research and Education Program, in an interview with CBS News New York. As part of the museum’s program to tag great whites, Metzger often observes sharks “pushing each other out of the way” as they vie for food. “Those negative interactions that people did encounter are probably due to the sharks trying to get at the food source. The sharks are not here to eat the people.… These people are probably just in or near the food source and these sharks are very used to bumping into large things trying to get their food.”
Officials were eager to recover the shark so they could perform a necropsy to determine what caused the great white’s death. DEC Marine Resources staff said there was no obvious cause of death and pathology reports are pending. Though reported to be 7- to 8-feet long, the carcass turned out to measure 6-feet, 5-inches and weighed about 250 pounds.