HARPSWELL, Maine — A New York woman was killed by a great white shark Monday afternoon while swimming off Bailey Island in the coastal Maine city of Harpswell, according to the Maine Marine Patrol.
Update 4:14 p.m. EDT July 28: Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City, was identified as the victim in the first documented fatal shark attack in Maine, the Portland Press Herald reported.
According to the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office, Holowach was attacked by a great white shark, the newspaper reported. The Maine Department of Marine Resources determined it was a white shark based on a tooth fragment.
Bailey has a home on Bailey Island, the Press Herald reported.
Original statement: In a statement, the Maine Marine Patrol said the woman, whose identification is being withheld until her family is notified, was swimming off the shore when a witness saw her being attacked by what appeared to be a shark.
Two kayakers brought the victim and another woman to shore, the Portland Press Herald reported. A crew of emergency responders from Harpswell met the group, but the woman died at the scene, the newspaper reported.
James Sulikowski, a professor at Arizona State University who conducts shark research in New England, told the Press Herald in an email that there has been only one unprovoked shark attack recorded in Maine.
“Shark interactions with humans are very rare in Maine,” Sulikowski wrote. “My guess is that the person (who was attacked) was mistaken as a food item.”
In October 2010, a man diving off the coast of Eastport said an 8-foot shark attacked him when it mistook his camera for food, the Press Herald reported. The diver was able to fend off the shark with his camera, the newspaper reported.
Marine patrol officials said that until further notice, swimmers and boaters are urged to use caution near Bailey Island, WGME reported.
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