Every summer, surfers, swimmers, boogie boarders and blow-up tube riders alike flock to beaches across the country to soak up the sun and enjoy the ocean waves. Even in New York City, a dense, metropolitan zone, features some famous beaches. Coney Island in Brooklyn, the Rockaways in Queens, and Great Kills Park in Staten Island are just a few of the sites where New Yorkers can get away from the hustle-and-grind of the urban jungle for a few hours, and trade-in their Wall Street Suits for some swimsuits. Urbanites willing to venture a little farther from home will find a whole host of great beaches on neighboring Long Island. Long Beach, Fire Island, Gilgo Beach, Smith’s Point, and Robert Moses are all immensely popular hot spots—literally, these sunbaked locations are excellent spots to work on a tan.
Somewhere in the public subconscious though, beneath all the SPF 100 and bronzer and zinc, lies a deep, communal fear. Sharks: nature’s most effectively lethal predacious fish. Sharks are distinctive for both their cartilaginous skeletons and signature pectoral fin. (You know the fin in question, the hallmark of most sharks, their deadly calling card, that vertical gray isosceles that pokes above the waterline to signify danger to everyone within eyesight…)
There are over 500 species of shark, and they patrol all of the world’s oceans.
This summer, sharks have been more problematic than usual. A spate of shark attacks off the eastern seaboard has left swimmers terrified. Not to mention families shattered in the wake of such horrible ordeals. North Carolina has been hit the hardest. Almost unbelievably, two teens lost their limbs in two isolated incidents on the same North Carolinian beach last week. A 13-year old girl was bitten first, and the injuries she sustained resulted in her arm being amputated at the elbow. Less than 2 hours later, a 16-year old boy was attacked. His arm too required amputation, though higher up, at his shoulder. Luckily, both of these young people survived. According to a town spokesperson on hand after the second attack, it isn’t town protocol to clear the water or evacuate a beach after a shark attack. Operating, perhaps, on the logic that lightning never strikes the same spot twice. In this seriously unfortunate circumstance, however, it disastrously did.
Historically, the Carolinas have always been a hotbed of shark attacks. Since June, there have been seven attacks off the coasts of these two states. They rank behind only Florida, Hawaii and California in terms of shark attack rates per year. New York is safer, compared to these warm-water climates. This summer though has seen a record number of shark sightings in New York. In the Long Island town of Oyster Bay, a string of beaches were evacuated, as a precautionary measure, after various different people reported spotting sharks swimming near to shore. Because the sightings were reported independently, and hours apart, officials were unsure about whether or not there were two sharks or if they were dealing with the same shark lurking local waters. Two police choppers were able to corroborate the sightings from their aerial vantage point, and confirmed that there were, in fact, two sharks.
Sharks tend to migrate closer to land during the summer months, and particularly in the Atlantic, due to the warmer water and the particular formation of the continental shelf, which is preferential for sharks and their behavioral patterns. Another influential factor is sea turtle nesting. When sea turtles come to shore to lay eggs, they make themselves more easily-attainable shark bait. As shark populations creep inwards to prey upon large caches of sea turtles, humans sometimes wind up as collateral damage.
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Larry Vaughn, the much beset and morally dubious mayor from the film Jaws, caught a lot of guff for trying to play down the severity of the shark attack problem on fictional Amity Island. Rest assured, that despite the recent surge in shark attack reports, the likelihood of an individual getting eaten by a shark is still microscopic, statistically speaking. But there are other ways in which one might get injured at a beach. And if you’ve been injured because of the negligence of the government officials charged with keeping beaches safe, then it may be within your rights to sue. Boardwalks should be kept clean and sturdy, competent and alert lifeguards should always be on duty, and proper signage should always be used to warn beachgoers of potential dangers. If the proprietor of a beach fails to meet any of these criteria, then they may be at fault for any ensuing injuries. If you feel like you’ve been hurt due to the shortcomings of others, please contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today. Our team of expert attorneys will handle your case from start to finish. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started and to begin learning about your rights.