Shark bites surfer at Suffolk County beach

A sand tiger shark bit a surfer in the water off Smith Point County Park in Suffolk County Wednesday morning, according to an official.

At about 7:30 a.m., the 41-year-old surfer was knocked off his board, punched at the shark, and then saw the shark come back around toward him, according to County Executive Steve Bellone said. He suffered a four-inch gash on his leg.

The man walked to get help because no one was on the beach that early, officials said. A park ranger then called 911 and medics brought the man to a hospital to be treated for the wound. 

Lifeguards kept the beach closed to swimmers for a few hours but later let people back in the water. The crews patrolled the water using paddle boards, personal watercraft, and aerial drones, officials said.

Although shark attacks on humans are very rare, this is the second attack at Smith Point's beach this month. On July 3, a small shark bit a lifeguard in the hand and chest during a training exercise.

"We're seeing a lot more sharks in our waters because the ecosystem is very healthy," South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center executive director Frank Quevedo told FOX 5 NY. "Without sharks in our water, the ecosystem will crash."

His organization studies the sharks of Long Island's waters. 

"People do not have to worry about sand tiger sharks — people do not have to worry about sharks, period," Quevedo said. "The sharks are here specifically to eat the abundance of populations of Atlantic menhaden and other bait fish that is a food source for them. They're not here to eat people."