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Hochul takes measures to keep Long Island beaches safe following shark attacks

May 23, 2024 — Wantagh, NY — Governor Kathy Hochul announces investments to keep New Yorkers safe in the water through the New York StateWide Investment in Municipal Swimming initiative. Recognizing that drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and that climate change will increase extreme heat events, Governor Hochul secured measures in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget and launched other initiatives for NY SWIMS to build out municipal pools in high-need areas, connect New Yorkers to the State’s rivers and lakes, address the lifeguard shortage, and invest in State parks and pools. At Jones Beach State Park today, Governor Hochul celebrated progress on several components of the NY SWIMS initiative as well as additional measures to monitor for sharks at State Parks on Long Island this summer. (Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)
Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
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Governor Kathy Hochul announces investments to keep New Yorkers safe in the water through the New York StateWide Investment in Municipal Swimming initiative.

Ahead of upcoming Memorial Day weekend celebrations, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced updated measures to keep swimmers, waders and “it’s too cold” toe-dippers safe on Long Island’s beaches this summer. The announcement, released Thursday, is in response to the previous summer’s series of shark attacks on Long Island shores.

Hochul announced that additional drones are being added to Long Island State Parks’ current fleet of 17 so that drone operators can have a bird’s eye view of the shore of the water.

One of the drones, assigned to the park’s police, is equipped with thermal imaging, laser range finding, and cameras with night-time surveillance capabilities for adverse weather. The same drone can drop personal flotation devices in emergencies.

In addition to more drones, the governor announced that 11 more drone pilots would be added to the existing 29 pilots by July 4.

Hochul also announced $5 million in funds to incentivize lifeguard recruitment and retention — a response to the shortage of lifeguards in New York.

Swimming opens for the season at Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Sunken Meadow State Parks this weekend. For those foregoing beaches, the governor also announced new funding for municipal pools, including the restoration of Jones-Beach-East-Bathhouse.

Eda Uzunlar (she/her) is a reporter for WSHU.