NEWS
19/07/2018 10:26 BST | Updated 19/07/2018 10:29 BST

Two Children Bitten In First New York Shark Attack In 70 Years

A tooth was extracted from a boy's leg.

Two children are thought to have been bitten by sharks while playing on Fire Island National Seashore in New York, in what may be the state’s first attack in 70 years.

The victims - a 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy - were playing in surf a few miles apart from each other when they were injured on Wednesday.

They were discharged after emergency medical treatment, each with a bandaged right leg, and both are expected to fully recover.

A suspected 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 afterwards with her parents as Lola Pollina, said she was standing in waist-deep water at Sailors Haven beach in nearby Brookhaven, two miles 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 shark she saw appeared to be about 3-4ft long, Lola said, while seated in a wheelchair. 

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 tended to the injured boy. 

Only about 10 cases of shark bites on people have ever been documented in New York state, the last one in 1948, Levine told Reuters, citing information from Islip town supervisors.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
Fire Island beaches, pictured above, were closed after the incidents until further notice

Neither incident on Wednesday had yet been officially confirmed as a shark attack, but Levine added, “The tooth we pulled out of the kid’s leg looks like a shark’s tooth.”

Fire Island beaches were closed after the incidents 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, Rogers said.

Bite marks on the girl also were “consistent with a large fish,” she added.