New York beach closed after 65-year-old woman suffers a shark bite

Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York is closed today after a 65-year-old was hospitalized for an apparent shark bit. While standing in the ocean late afternoon on Monday she felt something sharp and painful on her leg, which caused her to fall into the water.

Left with a "serious leg injury," she was taken to the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she was in serious but stable condition as of Monday night.

Shark bites are highly unusual at Rockaway Beach, and rare in general, "with only 57 unprovoked bites last year."

From ABC7:

"Everybody was leaving the beach and they were just like, 'don't get in the water,' and I was like, 'what happened?' Somebody got bit by a shark," one beachgoer said. …

The shark bite occurred amid a rise in shark sightings at New York City and Long Island beaches due to factors including improved water quality and thriving populations of the bunker fish that sharks feed on.

Monday's shark bite at Rockaway Beach was the first reported in recent memory, the parks department said.

There have been at least five instances of sharks biting swimmers and surfers at Long Island beaches this summer. There have been no fatalities.

And from CNN:

The injury comes about a month after a string of five likely shark attacks off nearby Long Island, which prompted local officials to ramp up shark patrols.

The five non-life-threatening bites occurred within two days of one another and alarmed New York beachgoers. The attacks also called to mind a similar series of shark attacks last summer that triggered several New York beach closures.

Swimmers can take precautions to help avoid attacks, said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research.

"People should always swim in groups. They shouldn't swim too far from the shore, and they should particularly avoid bait fish," Naylor told CNN last month.

The risk of being attacked by a shark is relatively low, with only 57 confirmed, unprovoked attacks worldwide last year, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. Of those, 41 were in the United States, with eight nonfatal incidents in New York.