7/28, 1:30 p.m. Update: Officials identified the shark as a great white shark during a noon press conference in Augusta.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) confirmed the identity of the woman killed yesterday by a shark attack near Bailey Island.
"Today I have the sad duty of confirming that Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City died yesterday as a result of a shark attack while swimming near Bailey Island," said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher, in a news release.
The incident occurred July 27 at 3:20 p.m. approximately 20 yards from the western shore of the island where she was swimming with a family member.
Nearby kayakers who witnessed the incident helped bring Julie to shore where she was pronounced deceased by EMS personnel called the scene by another witness on shore.
"I want to first express my condolences to Julie's friends and family, and to thank the individuals who responded and help bring this situation to a closure," said Commissioner Keliher.
Commissioner Keliher also confirmed that, after consulting with Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries Senior Scientist Gregory Skomal, Ph.D, the shark involved in the incident was a great white shark. Dr. Skomal, who is involved in shark research, was able to identify the shark as a great white through evidence provided by the Maine Marine Patrol and the medical examiners office.
Commissioner Keliher emphasized how uncommon the incident was.
"It is the only confirmed fatality in Maine waters from a shark attack," he said.
The only other confirmed shark attack in Maine waters occurred 10 years ago near Eastport, and that shark was reported to be a porbeagle.
He added that, although the incident of a shark attach in Maine waters is extremely rare, people should use caution when swimming or paddling in areas where there are schooling fish or seals.
"Seals feed on fish and sharks feed on seals," added Commissioner Keliher.
"We urge swimmers and others recreating in or on the water in the Casco bay region, and in particular near Bailey Island to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid schools of fish or seals, which attract sharks," said Commissioner Keliher. The Commissioner emphasized that areas where seals congregate such as places on the shore where they haul themselves out of the water should be avoided.
According to Marine Patrol Major Rob Beal, Cumberland County Sheriff's Office along with Orrs and Bailey Island Fire and Rescue responded to the incident.
"We will continue to monitor the area near Bailey Island for sharks and we ask the public to report any shark sightings to your local marine patrol officer," said Major Beal.
Contact information for Marine Patrol can be found on the DMR website at https://www.maine.gov/dmr/marine-patrol/marine-contact.html
The shark has not been caught, according to a report from the New York Post, which noted officials said the shark left behind a fragment of tooth allowing scientists to confirm it was a great white.
7/28, 10 a.m. Update: The Maine Department of Marine Resource has identified the woman who died yesterday from shark attack near Bailey Island as Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City.
Maine DMR Commissioner will conduct a press conference today, at noon, to provide additional information into the incident.
The Maine Marine Patrol is investigating the fatality of a woman today near Bailey Island.
According to Marine Patrol, an eye witness reported that the woman was swimming off the shore near White Sails Lane when she was injured in what appeared to be a shark attack, according to a July 27 news release from the Marine Patrol.
Bailey Island is in Casco Bay, at the end of the Harpswell peninsula.
Kayakers nearby brought her to shore and EMS responders were called to the scene where she was pronounced deceased. No other information is available at this time and the investigation into the incident is continuing. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Until further notice, swimmers and boaters are urged to use caution near Bailey Island and to avoid swimming near schooling fish or seals.
The identity of the woman is being withheld pending notification of family.