Children survive shark attacks off Fire Island

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(Inset photo courtesy of Philip Pollina)

A fisherman off Fire Island National Seashore captured a shark Thursday, a day after two children were attacked.

A 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were bitten in separate incidents at Atlantique Beach and Sailors Haven. The children received medical attention at the scene and then at hospitals.

The eight-foot shark captured Thursday was about 50 yards west of Atlantique Beach, according to the Town of Islip officials.  It was impossible to tell if the shark was involved in either of the attacks.

Lola Pollina said she and her younger brother were standing in waist-deep water at Sailors Haven Wednesday when she started to panic. She said something between 3 and 4 feet long with a small fin was swirling around in the water next to her.

"When I got out, my leg was bloody and I saw scratch marks kind of," she said. "They were bite marks but they looked like scratches."

She sustained several deep gashes to her leg. 


Her father, Philip Pollina, witnessed the attack from the shore. He described the incident as "bedlam" and saw a fin in the water.

"The way the cuts were—they were long and deep, puncture wounds," Pollina said. "They were too big to be something like a sand shark because they have tiny teeth. These were fairly large teeth."


The 13-year-old boy, a participant at a day camp, was boogie boarding at Atlantique Beach when he was bitten, according to a spokeswoman for the Town of Islip. He stumbled out of the ocean and then a lifeguard cleaned and dressed his wound.

Medics removed an animal tooth from the boy's leg. Experts said the piece of tooth was too small to determine what species of shark attacked.

A Suffolk Police Marine Bureau boat rushed the children to Timber Point Marina. They were then treated at nearby hospitals; one at Southside and the other at Good Samaritan.

Beaches in the Town of Islip were closed after the incidents.

Officials said bathers have to be careful because this is breeding season.

"Most shark attacks happen in the surf zone," Islip Town Councilman John Cochrane said. "Most of the shark bites that happen are hit-and-runs—the shark bites and takes off."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he directed the state's environmental conservation commissioner to lead a multi-agency investigation into the apparent shark attacks.

"State personnel are already working closely with Suffolk County and local authorities to gather additional details and keep the community informed," Cuomo said. "The State will do everything we can to protect beachgoers and keep the community safe."

Field 3 at Robert Moses State Park, which is at the western end of Fire Island, was closed due to a possible shark sighting. But after a search of the water turned up only dolphins, state parks officials reopened the beach, according to a spokesman.