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Red flags at Long Island beaches warn swimmers after recent shark attacks

Red flags at Long Island beaches warn swimmers after recent shark attacks
Red flags at Long Island beaches warn swimmers after recent shark attacks 02:05

BAY SHORE, N.Y. -- Long Island beachgoers should be on the lookout for red flags on Saturday following a string of shark attacks.

Attacks are usually rare, according to officials, but warmer temperatures are drawing sharks closer to shore, CBS2's Christina Fan reported. 

Only a few days into July, there have been at least three shark incidents. Most recently, a shark bit a lifeguard at Fire Island. 

It happened when first-year lifeguard John Mullins was in the middle of training Thursday morning. He was playing the role of a victim waiting for lifeguards to rescue him, when he found himself close to real danger. 

"The teeth were inside my skin and when I pulled my foot out, it kind of just felt like a scrape, like a rake going up my foot," Mullins said. "We never expect to be attacked while we're training, but they handled it well." 

Mullins, 17, said he was about 150 yards from shore when the shark bit him. He now has five stitches and was walking with a limp. 

He'll be out of work until he can start getting his feet wet again. 

"The first time going back out to be the victim, it's definitely gonna be scary, but I should be OK," Mullins said. 

Recent shark attacks have officials on edge. For safety reasons, beachgoers are only allowed to swim out to a certain distance. 

All Fire Island beaches will display red flags near beach signs and purple flags in lifeguard areas to alert visitors of the potential danger. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said lifeguards are constantly on the lookout. 

"We are having our lifeguards out on paddleboards. We have deployed, and will continue where necessary, drone technology and we also have a jet ski that we utilize," Bellone said. 

Mullins told CBS2 the shark bite won't stop him from doing what he loves. He'll be back on duty as soon as the stitches are out and he's able to walk comfortably again. 

Hempstead steps up shark patrol after recent sightings 00:43

Hempstead officials gathered at Point Lookout Beach on Saturday to announce they're stepping up the town's shark patrol. Lifeguards on Jet Skis, on boards and on land will be looking out for sharks every day until further notice.

"The lifeguards have been trained, and we have other initiatives in effect today and will continue for the foreseeable future to safeguard you, particularly from any shark sightings," Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said.

Officials say warmer weather and an increase in bait fish have led to more sightings.

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