Good morning. It’s Friday. Today it’s sharks and space — sharks off Long Island, and an auction of possessions that the astronaut Buzz Aldrin carried on the Apollo 11 moon mission.
Credit…Johnny Milano for The New York Times
There are swimmers and surfers on Long Island who probably can’t get the heart-pounding theme from “Jaws” out of their heads right now.
Two people were bitten in apparent shark attacks 20 miles apart on Wednesday. On Thursday, an off-duty lifeguard who was out catching an early-morning wave reported that a shark had “bumped” him. There was another shark sighting in almost the same place several hours later, another about a mile away a couple of hours after that and another about 15 miles from there an hour later.
All this made what another lifeguard said sound like an understatement. “It’s been quite a couple of days,” declared the lifeguard, Zach Gallo, who returned to work on Thursday for the first time since he was bitten by a shark on July 3.
This has been a summer of stepped-up shark patrols, with drones sent up to look down at Long Island’s long string of ocean beaches. And even when the drones don’t see sharks or they don’t bite, Long Islanders are all too aware that they are there: A 10-foot mako shark washed up at Point Lookout over Memorial Day weekend.
The surfboard bumping happened a few miles west of where the two incidents occurred on Wednesday. The off-duty lifeguard was surfing off Field 3 at Robert Moses State Park around 8 a.m., said George Gorman, a spokesman for the state parks on Long Island.
Gorman said a drone was sent up to scan the water. The operator saw nine sting rays but no sharks. Even so, swimming was prohibited until 9:30 a.m. and again for an hour at midday after another sighting was reported. Another drone flight saw no sharks then, either.
That made Thursday less dramatic than Wednesday, when a shark knocked down Shawn Donnelly, an attorney who was surfing before going to the office.
He fought back, slapping the shark. It swam away, and a wave carried Donnelly to the beach.
He did not realize that he had been bitten and walked to a lifeguard station, where he described the encounter. “They were like, ‘Come on,’” he said.
About 11 hours later and 20 miles away, a 49-year-old Arizona man was standing in waist-deep water when, the police said, a shark came up from behind and bit him twice. He managed to walk out of the water and was taken by helicopter to a hospital with what the police said were non-life-threatening injuries.
Steve Bellone, county executive in Suffolk County, said the incidents added up to “something of a new normal.”
Robert Hueter, the chief scientist of Ocearch, an organization that researches and tracks marine species, said that the shark population was rebounding after declining as much as 90 percent from the 1970s to the 1990s, depending on the species. “Are we back to the way it was in 1950 or 1960?” he said. “No, we’re not even close to that. People who weren’t alive then think there are more sharks than ever before, but really, the ecosystem is still resetting.”
But he also said that with climate change, shark populations that usually ventured no farther north than the Chesapeake Bay area have moved up the coast to the New York Bight, the wedge formed by the shorelines of Long Island and New Jersey.
Gallo, who is 33 and has been a lifeguard at Smith Point for 10 years, appeared to harbor no hard feelings toward the shark that nipped him. “I think this was just a curious animal,” he said, “and I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
He admitted to some trepidation about returning to Smith Point Park. He said that when he arrived in the morning, he felt “a slight, like ‘Whoa, I’m going back in the water today.’”
He said he and the lifeguards who went in the water with him had words for any sharks that might have been listening: “Who’s ready for Round 2?”
Enjoy a sunny day near the mid-80s. The evening is mostly clear, with temperatures in the low 70s.
In effect until Aug. 15 (Feast of the Assumption).
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For sale, a jacket that went out of this world
The label says the jacket is a size ML and was made on Dec. 18, 1968.
The label does not say who wore it, or where.
The giveaway is a name tag on the front that says “E. Aldrin,” for the astronaut Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin Jr. He wore the jacket on the three-day ride to the moon in July 1969 and on the three-day ride back. It was made of the same Teflon-coated material as the spacesuits that he and Neil Armstrong changed into for their moonwalk. (The Apollo 11 liftoff took place 53 years ago tomorrow; Wednesday is the anniversary of the moonwalk.)
The jacket will be sold on July 26 at Sotheby’s, which expects it to go for $1 million to $2 million. Other items from Aldrin’s career are also on the block, including a checklist that he used during spacewalks on the Gemini 12 mission I 1966 ($15,000 to $20,000); the flight plan for Apollo 11 that he carried with him in space ($100,000 to $150,000); and a felt-tip pen that he used on a circuit breaker that governed electrical power for the lunar module to lift off after the moonwalk. The switch on the circuit breaker had broken somewhere along the way. “You can just imagine what he’s thinking,” said Cassandra Hatton, a senior vice president of Sotheby’s. “This is the original Houston-we-have-a-problem problem.”
Aldrin recalled in the book “Men from Earth” (written with Malcolm McConnell) that “we looked around for something to punch in this circuit breaker.” He and Armstrong found an item that had not been issued by NASA: the felt-tipped pen. Sotheby’s expects it, and the broken switch, to sell for $1 million to $2 million.
As for Aldrin’s jacket, it was custom-fitted months before liftoff, so Aldrin had to stay in shape. “If you get to the party and the suit doesn’t fit anymore,” Hatton said, referring to the launch, “there are no last-minute alterations.”
She said that Aldrin’s jacket had apparently not gone to the cleaners — and, eventually, to the National Air & Space Collections at the Smithsonian — with the jackets that Armstrong and Michael Collins had worn, making Aldrin’s the only jacket flown on the mission that can now be sold. “Maybe Buzz just walked out with the jacket on,” she said.
It was springtime and ladybugs were once again washing up on the shores of Brighton Beach. Where they come from, I don’t know. But every year you can find me harvesting them so they can be released into a more suitable environment.
One day some years ago, I found them surfing in on rafts of reeds that the beach-cleaning machine, the Barber Surf Rake, would sweep into its craw as it went along. Suddenly, I had a new mission.
As the vehicle approached, I stood my ground and waved for it to halt. The operator glowered down at me from the driver’s seat.
“Sir,” I said. “I know you don’t realize this, but you are killing ladybugs.”
I held out my baggy filled with bugs, awaiting his angry response.
He looked down at me, incredulous.
“Ladybugs?” he said. “I love ladybugs.”
And off he drove, leaving the reeds and the ladybugs behind.
— Suzanne Friedman
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].