A 65-year-old woman was rushed to the ER by NYC Fire Medics after being bitten by a shark at Rockaway Beach.
According to Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor, at around 5:50 pm on August 7th the victim was swimming near Beach 59th St. when she was bitten in her left leg by a shark.
Chief Lifeguard, Jose Diaz, told the New York Post the victim was treading water and relaxing just offshore when the attack occurred.
Diaz said his Lifeguards sprang into action:
“We saw that she was bitten,’ ‘… blood was coming out a lot, so they gave her a tourniquet with the buoy, which has a rope, and they tied it so she doesn’t bleed to death.’ ‘She lost a lot of blood,” Diaz reported. “The artery came right out. You could see the bones and everything. It was crazy,” he said.
The shark tore loose an estimated 20 lbs. of flesh from her upper thigh before swimming away. According to one report, that chunk of flesh was later discovered washed up on shore, the shark apparently finding the Queens resident unappetizing.
Lifeguards leapt to her rescue and drug her to shore where an improvised tourniquet, made from a rescue buoy rope, was used to control bleeding until EMS could arrive with a much improved TQ, the SOF-T from Tac Med Solutions.
Another NYC Parks Employee, Shaneka Thomas, who’d heard the victim screaming after being bitten, reported the woman had signs of going into shock as rescuers worked to save her, saying she was muttering and unresponsive to questions.
“They were trying to … talk to her,” said Thomas. “There was a lot of commotion. I still think that she was in shock because I don’t think she even responded to them. She was mumbling. She seemed calm once they laid her down.”
68-year-old Chief Lifeguard Diaz told NYPost.com he’d never seen anything like the shark attack in all his 53 years of serving the New York City beach goers.
“We go swimming like every other day. We go swimming with the lifeguards, and we see sharks but they don’t really do anything to us. This is the first time this happened. It’s weird. Everybody’s afraid to go into the water now. I don’t blame them,” said Chief Diaz, who’d only come out of retirement amid a crisis of Lifeguard shortages.
The victim was swiftly taken by ambulance to Jamaica Hospital where she was listed in serious, but stable condition and expected to recover.
Authorities were unable to locate the offending shark in the murky water, having been churned up by the windy day. Some experts believe this may have been the reason for the attack which might have been from either a Bull or perhaps a Thresher Shark, given the wounding pattern of the teeth. The shark encountered the victim in the low visibility water (experts went on to explain,) and gave her an exploratory bite to find out whether she was good to eat.
The answer seems to have been: No.
Shark attacks are incredibly rare, but with danger in the area and police drones unable to track the location of toothy apex predators due to murky water conditions, the beach was closed to swimmers.
Despite the rare occurrence of shark attacks on the New York coastline, aggressive encounters are up significantly across the area, 5 this year, with 3 of them happening east of Long Island on July 4th.
“According to the International Shark Attack File latest report, in 2021 the number of deaths was slightly above normal, reaching 11 shark-related fatalities, 9 of them classified as “unprovoked.” — sentientmedia.org
This is the first shark attack in this area since 1953 when a teenage boy hooked a shark and was bitten when he grabbed its tail, and before that the last known attack was in 1909, making this only the third attack in the last 114 years.
Information for this article was obtained from the following sources: