Woman critically injured by rare shark bite off NYC’s Rockaway Beach

FILE - People enjoy the water at Rockaway Beach, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in the Queens borough of New York. Authorities say a woman was critically injured when a shark bit her on the leg Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, while she was swimming at Rockaway beach. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
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Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman was critically injured when a shark bit her on the leg while she was swimming at a New York City beach, officials said.

The 50-year-old woman was swimming off Rockaway Beach just before 6 p.m. Monday when a shark bit her on the left leg, the city parks department said in a statement.

Lifeguards pulled the woman from the water and administered first aid. The woman was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical but stable condition with severe lacerations to her thigh, a police spokesperson said.

Lifeguards cleared all swimmers from the water, and the police used a helicopter to search the area for sharks but did not find any, the parks department said.

Rockaway Beach was closed to swimming and surfing on Tuesday as a precaution.

Experts say shark bites are extremely rare, with only 57 unprovoked bites last year, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

The shark bite occurred amid a rise in shark sightings at New York City and Long Island beaches due to factors including improved water quality and thriving populations of the bunker fish that sharks feed on.

Monday’s shark bite at Rockaway Beach was the first reported in recent memory, the parks department said.

There have been at least five instances of sharks biting swimmers and surfers at Long Island beaches this summer. There have been no fatalities.