In the last few years, there has been an increase in Great White Shark sightings along Maine’s coast. This has led to some concern among residents and beach-goers, as Great Whites are known to be aggressive predators.
While these massive sharks were once a rare occurrence along Maine’s beaches, they are now being seen more often, with 6 reported sightings in 2020 alone. So, what is causing this increase in Great White Shark sightings?
Why Are There More Sharks Along Maine’s Coast?
There are a few possible explanations as to why Great White Sharks are now being seen more frequently off the coast of Maine. One popular theory is that the sharks are following their prey into new waters as they search for food. Seals have become abundant in Maine in recent years due to the state’s efforts to protect them.
Another explanation is that the rise in the temperature of Maine’s waters, due to climate change, is attracting Great White Sharks to the area. Great Whites typically prefer waters between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and Maine’s waters have been slowly creeping into this range in recent years.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that Great White Sharks are now making themselves at home in Maine’s waters, so residents and visitors need to be aware of the dangers they pose.
Maine’s First Fatal Shark Attack in 2020
While Great White Shark sightings may be rising, attacks are still relatively rare. In fact, prior to 2020, it had been 10 years since the last non-fatal shark attack was reported in Eastport, Maine.
Sadly, tragedy struck on July 28th, 2020, when 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowach became the first person in Maine to be killed by a shark. The fatal attack occurred about 20 yards offshore, where Holowach was swimming with her daughter.
What To Do If You Encounter a Great White Shark
While shark attacks are still rare, it’s vital to know what to do if you find yourself in the water with one of these predators.
If you see a Great White Shark, the best thing to do is stay calm and get out of the water in the safest, most effective way possible. Great Whites are attracted to fast movements, so it’s important to move slowly and avoid splashing around or making any sudden movements.
If a Great White does attack, fight back. Strike the shark as hard as you can in the nose, gills, or eyes- anywhere that is soft and sensitive. This will hopefully deter the shark and give you time to get to safety.
Maine Coast Safety Measures
Since the attack, the state has implemented a number of new safety measures to protect beach-goers from Great White Sharks. These include posting warning signs when there have been recent shark sightings in the area.
The Sharktivity app is also a helpful resource where app users, safety officials, and researchers can post shark sightings in the area.
Visit the Friends of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge blog to learn more about Maine’s coastal wildlife.