Officers with the Maine Marine Patrol confirmed the sighting of a great white shark off the coast of Bailey Island on Friday, leading state officials to urge swimmers and paddlers to exercise caution around seals and schools of fish, which are known to attract sharks.

The sighting around 11:30 a.m. occurred near Pond Island Ledges, east of Bailey Island and near the site of Monday’s fatal attack by a great white. It comes after two unconfirmed sightings on Thursday, according to a statement by the Department of Marine Resources, which oversees the marine patrol.

The Maine Marine Patrol received this photo from the operator of a drone who sighted the shark near Pond Island Ledges around 11:30 a.m. Friday. A shark expert confirmed it is a great white shark. Courtesy of the Maine Marine Patrol

“Two unconfirmed shark sightings yesterday plus one confirmed sighting of a great white shark today near Harpswell reaffirm our message that people need to use caution when recreating in or on the ocean,” Maine Marine Patrol Maj. Rob Beal said in a written statement.

“It is the department’s plan to continue to closely monitor shark presence in our waters, to notify local municipalities and to work with (state park officials) to make sure they have the information they need to take action to ensure the safety of visitors to Maine’s beaches and waterfront,” Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in the news release.

Keliher said the reports of sightings, seals washing up on shore with injuries from sharks and other data that confirm shark activity from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia means swimmers, paddlers and beachgoers should exercise caution throughout the rest of the summer.

The sighting of the shark was made by the pilot of a drone who took a picture and sent it to the marine patrol, said Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the department. Nichols did not identify the drone pilot.


The image was sent to Gregory Skomal, a shark expert who also manages the recreational fisheries program at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and he confirmed that it as a great white shark. Nichols did not know whether Skomal estimated the shark’s size.

Park officials on Friday eased some water recreation restrictions at two popular beaches after the state’s first fatal shark attack on Monday off Bailey Island. The sighting was far enough away from shore that the eased restrictions will remain in effect, said Jim Britt, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

“Our lifeguards and rangers are really on active alert on the beaches,” Britt said. “They have complete authority to clear the water if there’s any sense of insecurity.”

The department Bureau of Parks and Lands said it would permit waist-deep recreation at Popham Beach and Reid State Park. The lagoon at Reid State Park remains open, as well. It was not immediately clear whether the sighting Friday would lead to renewed restrictions.

Swimmers at Ferry Beach and Crescent Beach will continue to be restricted to waist-deep water. Earlier Friday, the state said that it would consider lifting restrictions by Monday if there are no further shark sightings, but Friday’s sighting would appear to scuttle that plan.

People walk in shallow water at Popham Beach State Park on Thursday, where bathers were told to only go in the water ankle deep because of a recent shark attack and subsequent shark sightings off the Maine coast. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

The decision to ease some of the restrictions was made in consultation with the Maine Marine Patrol, which has been searching for sharks in Casco Bay since Monday, when a great white shark attacked and killed Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, a seasonal resident of Bailey Island in Harpswell.

Holowach was attacked as she swam 20 yards from shore with her daughter, who was not injured. It was only the second shark attack ever reported in Maine. In 2010, a scuba diver off Eastport escaped injury by fending off an 8-foot shark with a video camera.

On Wednesday, the marine patrol responded to two reports of shark sightings near Popham Beach in Phippsburg, including one report from lifeguards who said they saw a shark chasing a seal. The marine patrol searched the area and did not find any sharks, but did spot an ocean sunfish and seals feeding on fish. Ocean sunfish are harmless, but also have a fin that can be seen above the surface, and can be mistaken for a shark’s dorsal fin.

The marine patrol asks that anyone who sees a shark contact them and provide a location and photos, if possible.

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