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New Yorkers Need to Get Over Their Fear of Sharks

Does your government currently treat any other threat to public safety with this kind of boneheaded zeal?

9:45 AM EDT on July 25, 2022

Red flags line the beach at the Rockaways on Saturday morning, as hundreds of people look out into the ocean after the beaches were closed due to a shark sighting.
Hell Gate|

The beaches were closed at the Rockaways on Saturday after a shark sighting.

How was your weekend? I had big plans to jump in the air a few dozen times and freak out charter boats in Montauk. (A few years back, some bachelor party dropped their cheeseburgers into the water after they saw me!) But you know how it goes: You start doing a few errands, catch up on some reading, and pretty soon you’re munching on some menhaden and swimming slowly until you fall asleep before 9 p.m. 

I did notice something weird: The Rockaways were EMPTY. Usually, it’s wall-to-wall legs and footballs and floating diapers in the shallows on a late July afternoon, but this past Saturday, it was eerily quiet. Apparently, the Parks Department closed the beaches to swimming, all because someone saw a shark

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a nice quiet surf as much as the next fish. But close the whole beach for the whole day on one of the steamiest days of the entire year? Just because you saw one of my friends? (Pretty sure it was Frankie lol.)

Help me understand. This summer there have been what, around six shark bites off the coast of Long Island? None of them were close to being fatal—we don’t even like biting you! It’s kind of like when you get a slice of pizza and the cheese is boiling hot but you want to tempt fate anyway so you nibble the tip and nope, that’s way too hot, so you spit it out before things get worse. No fun for anyone involved. 

But your response to six nibbles, all of which were outside of New York City, is to have Parks staff shut down the beaches at the sight of a shark, and run NYPD helicopters and boats up and down the shore? I’m no accountant, but that’s a lotta clams!

Does your government currently treat any other threat to public safety with this kind of boneheaded zeal? (I say “currently” because it wasn’t too long ago that you were stopping and frisking millions of innocent people for equally stupid reasons.) 

The odds of being attacked by a shark are around one in 5,000,000. But your chances of dying in a car crash are around one in 101. In just one City Council district on the Rockaway Peninsula, there have been 358 car crashes in 2022 so far; 530 people have been injured, and three have been killed—two pedestrians and a cyclist. Is the Department of Transportation shutting down all the roads in the Rockaways? Is Governor Kathy Hochul directing state agencies to do something about these crashes? Why not? People are dying easily preventable deaths!

Or take COVID-19. Your mayor has essentially decided that mitigating the disease is harmful to the economy and that New Yorkers have to live with it. Eight New Yorkers die of COVID every day, and thousands more are laid low. You accept these risks because essentially, you have no choice—Mayor Eric Adams has made this choice for you. (By the way, he was down here a few weeks ago swimming with us, and let me tell you, that dude is WILD.)

Which is why it’s boggling my tiny shark brain that you all would choose to spend money on helicopters and boats and red flags on little old me (1 in 5,000,000!) instead of, I don’t know, more lifeguards and staff so that more New Yorkers can learn to swim and don't die from drowning. Or so more people can cool off in your fabulous (shark-free!) pools.

Closing the beaches to tens of thousands of desperately hot New Yorkers and sending out the helicopters at the sight of a shark is the right thing for the Mayor of Amityville to do in a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s not a sound or sustainable public policy. 

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a shark. 

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