A suspected shark’s tooth was removed from the leg of the 13-year-old boy. (Supplied: Jason Hager – Ocean Beach Fire Department)
Two youngsters frolicking in the surf kilometres apart along the Fire Island National Seashore in New York have suffered puncture wounds to their legs in apparent shark attacks that would mark the state’s first such incidents in 70 years, authorities say.
- A 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were bitten in New York
- The attacks happened 3 kilometres apart
- If they are confirmed as shark attacks, they would be the first in New York in 70 years
The victims — a 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy — were discharged after emergency medical treatment for their separate mishaps, each with a bandaged right leg, and both are expected to fully recover.
What appeared to be a shark’s tooth was extracted from the boy’s leg and will be analysed to determine the species of the creature he encountered while boogie-boarding at Atlantique Beach in the town of Islip, officials said.
The girl, identified at a news conference with her parents afterward as Lola Pollina, said she was standing in waist-deep water at Sailors Haven beach in nearby Brookhaven, three kilometres east of Islip, when she was bitten.
“I saw something, like, next to me, and I kind of felt pain, and looked and I saw a fin,” she said, recounting how she realised her leg was “all bloody” as she scurried from the water.
The animal she saw appeared to be between 90 and 120 centimetres long, she said.
Shark attacks on humans are extremely rare in waters off Fire Island, east of New York City, or anywhere else in the state, according to Ian Levine, chief of the Ocean Beach Fire Department, whose paramedics aided the boy who was bitten.
Only about 10 cases of shark bites on people have ever been documented in New York state, the last one in 1948, Mr Levine said.
Neither incident had yet been officially confirmed as a shark attack, but Mr Levine added “the tooth we pulled out of the kid’s leg looks like a shark’s tooth”.
The boy, who was attending a day camp at the time, walked on and off the police boat that took him to the hospital. The girl later spoke to reporters seated in a wheelchair.
Fire Island beaches were closed afterward until further notice, National Park Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Rogers said.
The tooth specimen, which is “consistent with a large fish,” was being studied by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will report its findings to the Suffolk County Marine Bureau, Ms Rogers said.
Bite marks on the girl also were “consistent with a large fish,” she said.
Separately, a 2.2 metre tiger shark was caught by a fisherman at Kismet, another beach town 3.2 km west of Islip, Mr Levine said, adding he doubted either animal involved in the attacks was that large.
A Twitter user, Sean Cannon, shared an image online of the 2.2m shark, and a video of another shark that was caught at Kismet.