Authorities are investigating whether a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl who both suffered large fish bites in the waters off of Fire Island were victims of shark attacks.
Shortly before noon today, officials said, the girl was bitten while wading in the water at a beach known as Sailors Haven on Fire Island, a barrier beach off the south shore of Long Island.
The girl’s mother, Barbara Pollina, told ABC News that her daughter Lola is “hanging in there – a little overwhelmed right now.”
Soon after that attack, the boy was bitten while boogie boarding in the waters off another Fire Island beach, known as Atlantique, officials said. The two beaches are several miles apart.
Emergency medical workers removed a suspected shark tooth from the unidentified boy’s leg, which suffered a puncture wound, according to officials with the Long Island town of Islip. The tooth is now being analyzed to determine the type of shark that attacked.
Carpenter said that the boy was bitten after a wave knocked him off his boogie board. Lifeguard Bella Cohen took the boy to a tent and dressed his wound. That’s when the puncture wounds were discovered, Carpenter said.
The boy was transported by police boat to a local hospital, she said.
Dueling responses from different officials midday left some confusion as to what had attacked the two young people.
Islip town officials initially confirmed that the boy’s bite was indeed a shark attack, but later issued a statement saying that the 13-year-old was bit by “what may possibly have been a shark.”
“It has not been totally confirmed” that the boy was bitten by a shark, Carpenter said, but lifeguards and emergency medical personnel who treated the victim assumed it was a shark bite when they found the shark tooth in his leg.
Neither Suffolk County nor the National Parks Service — which oversees some of Fire Island’s beaches — have yet confirmed that either of the bites came from sharks. County officials said that while the bite appeared to be from a shark, there had so far been no shark sighting.
A National Parks Service official told ABC News that the designation of a shark attack must come from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Lola’s father, Philip Pollina, told the Long Island newspaper Newsday that he is “pretty certain it was a shark.”
“The way the cuts were, they were long and deep…,” Pollina told the newspaper. “These were fairly large teeth. Thank God’s she’s OK. She may have couple of little scars on her leg, but she’ll have a great story to tell.”
Beaches within the Town of Islip and all Fire Island National Seashore beaches are closed for at least the day in the wake of the attack.
Further west and a few hours after the two attacks, bathers were evacuated from the waters off Robert Moses State Park and Jones Beach after a lifeguard spotted a shark.
State police are sending a drone and a helicopter into the air to search the waters for sharks, according to George Gorman, Long Island deputy regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The attacks come just days before the July 22 start of Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week” programming marathon, now in its 30th year.