Links to the Past: Year in Review on Fire Island, 2023

Shortly after the reopening of Fire Island Lighthouse, videographer, Matt Lawlǝss, contributed a stunning video to celebrate its triumphant comeback.

Sharks, lighthouse damage, erosion – oh my! What a year 2023 has been. As it comes to a close, Fire Island News revisits some of our most significant moments over the past 12 months. Follow the hyperlinks, and let us recollect together, shall we?

Winter Windstorm Wallops Lighthouse

The Canadian Wildfires tinted skies and impacted air quality over much of the Northeast. This view of the Great South Bay was taken by Beth Batkiewicz of Kismet.

Only days into the month of March, an offshore windstorm did significant damage to the Fire Island Lighthouse, suspending all tower tours and taking Fire Island Lighthouse off its regular visitor and events trajectory for nearly six months. However, by August 30, Fire Island National Seashore cleared the tower as safe for visitor tours one again after undertaking weeks of emergency repair work.

Spring Tension in a Local Election

Only days before the massive smoke plume from the Canadian Wildfires cast much of the Northeast under a shadow of haze, a heated election race in Ocean Beach Village came to a dramatic conclusion on June 2, 2023. Pressure had been building for weeks, and this publication did its part to make sure all five candidates running for the two open Village had a chance to communicate their platform to the constituents. Ultimately however, an audit released by the New York State Comptroller’s office in the fall of 2022 dictated how the tide turned at the ballot box.

Sharks in the Summertime

Ocean Beach Police Officer Andrew Becher wins a Press Club Long Island Award with Fire Island News in 2023 for his drone photography documenting shark activity offshore of Fire Island during the summer of 2022.

Summer was in full swing by the July 4th Holiday and the sharks wasted no time in making surprise appearances in various locations along the barrier beach, resulting in multiple shark bite incidents offshore of Fire Island over a 24-hour period. Northwell Health did their part to treat some of the victims that day. However the fun was not over, as a cruel and foolish trend took hold on Fire Island over the weeks ahead as some beach goers started  plucking baby sharks swimming in the bay out of the water and taking selfies with them. In one such instance, an Ocean Beach Youth Group Camp Councilor was injured as a result.

Erosion Come Fall

The oceanside as seen from Seaview in early October, shortly after Ophelia ‘s visit. Photo by Shoshanna McCollum.

Beach erosion is hardly a new subject for Fire Island, but some years are worse than others. Tropical Storm Lee made its appearance with Ophelia following on its heels, both in the month of September. Autumn events were cancelled and concern escalated as the beach simply failed to recover. Then a nor’easter storm surge tipped the scales only days before the winter solstice. The story continues.

Wishing all our readers a happy and healthy 2024 from all of us at Fire Island News.