Rockaway Beach, in Queens, New York, in July 2022. Frank Franklin II (AP)
A tourniquet has saved the leg of a 65-year-old woman from whom a shark tore off a piece of meat above the knee. It happened this Monday on a New York beach, Rockaway, a kilometer-long stretch of sand and waves in the Queens district. The shark attack is the first in 70 years in the city, although sightings of this type of mammal had multiplied in recent months, to the point of prompting the authorities to patrol the coastline with drones as a precaution.
Access to the beach has been closed this Tuesday and swimming and surfing have been prohibited, the city’s Parks and Recreational Activities department has reported on its Twitter account. Tatyana Toltunyuk, a resident of Astoria, was rescued from the water by rescuers, who administered first aid before emergency medical services arrived. It happened after six in the afternoon on Monday. The woman is in serious but stable condition at a county hospital. This is the first shark bite reported on that beach since 1953.
The shark’s bite caused a “gruesome laceration” on the left leg of Toltunyuk, who was swimming alone when she was attacked. According to local media, the bite tore 20 pounds of meat (just over nine kilos) from the limb, a fact that has not been confirmed by medical sources, which only underline the seriousness of his condition, with bleeding on the outer side of the thigh. that the tourniquet of the lifeguards managed to alleviate.
The rest of the bathers were ordered to get out of the water immediately, while a police helicopter combed the area, without detecting any sign of sharks. “While we realize this is a horrifying event,” a police spokesperson said, “we want to remind New Yorkers that a shark attack is extremely rare in Rockaway. We continue to monitor the beach and always evict bathers if we spot any.” Over the July 4 weekend, three beachgoers and a surfer reported being attacked by sharks, though none of their injuries were serious. The State of New York began to use drones to issue alerts of the presence of any threat in the waters, always rough on that beach bathed by the ocean and limited by a nine-kilometre-long boardwalk.
The threat of sharks, more active and frequent in other waters such as those of Florida, as well as the lack of lifeguards – bathing is not allowed without their presence, neither on beaches nor in swimming pools, not even community ones – has tarnished the summer season , in which several drownings have been recorded. The news of the closure of Rockaway after the incident on Monday was greeted critically by residents and regulars of the place, considering the increase in drownings in its waters more serious, because it is frequent.
However, shark attacks have experienced a constant increase in recent years, due to the increasing interaction of humans with sharks. “More and more people live near the oceans and improvements in transportation systems have facilitated access to the coasts, according to the Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute,” the Axios portal reported at the end of July. The research, of global scope, indicated that in the United States alone, in 2020 some 125 million people lived on the coasts, compared to less than 85 million in the 1970s. The same time, precisely, that the shocking movie Jaws broke box office records around the world and became a Hollywood classic.
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