Two Kids Bitten in Possible Shark Attack Off New York's Fire Island: 'It Was Pretty Surreal'
Two kids were attacked by what authorities suspect to be sharks on Wednesday off of Fire Island, New York, authorities tell news outlets.
A 13-year-old boy was bitten off Atlantique Beach, just four and half miles away from where a 12-year-old girl was attacked on Sailors Haven, NBC reports. Both attacks happened around 11:15 a.m.
According to the news outlet, the boy was boogie boarding when the incident occurred. Barely able to make it to shore, a lifeguard ran to him and saw he had been bitten.
A spokesperson told NBC that his wound was cleaned, but not before they noticed a tooth sticking out from his leg.
That tooth was “consistent with a large fish,” Elizabeth Rogers, spokeswoman for the Fire Island National Seashore, told Newsday.
The Suffolk police marine bureau is now “awaiting identification of the tooth” from the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s marine bureau before they can confirm or deny that the tooth actually came from a shark.
According to WABC, the teen was able to walk and was sent to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
Further down the beach, a 12-year-old girl’s father, Philip Pollina, told NBC that his daughter was waist-deep in the water when she began to panic. Lifeguards pulled her out and saw deep cuts on her leg.
“Once we figured it out it was pretty surreal,” he told NBC.
The girl’s mother told ABC News that she is “hanging in there — a little overwhelmed right now.”
According to ABC, the officials that oversee Fire Island’s beaches — which include Suffolk County and the National Parks Service — haven’t confirmed the bites came from sharks. The beaches were closed for the rest of the day because of the two incidents.
Larry Cahoon, professor of biology and marine biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, previously spoke with PEOPLE about what to do if you come face-to-face with a shark.
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“People say to swim slowly back to shore, but what is that going to do? Swim to shore as fast as you can. shark that means to eat you will keep coming,” he said. “You need to call for help. People who survive all but the least damaging shark attacks got immediate help from others.”
He also suggested not aiming for the nose if the shark comes towards you, but instead go for their eyes and gills, which are a “shark’s most sensitive area.”
But the best thing you can do is “just focus on getting back to land.”
He added: “A 10-foot bull shark will weigh close to 500 pounds and is essentially all muscle. What chance would anyone have?”