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Officials confirm great white sighting near Bailey Island

There were two unconfirmed shark sightings Thursday and one confirmed great white shark Friday; officials continue to urge caution.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

HARPSWELL, Maine — The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) said Friday they received a report of a shark near Pond Island Ledges, east of Bailey Island, which was confirmed to be a great white shark.

“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 Major Rob Beal said. 

DMR says they have notified the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which has jurisdiction over nearby state beaches and parks, as well as local municipalities. 

“We are recommending that people in Harpswell and surrounding communities exercise caution while recreating around the water," Beal said. 

“We urge swimmers and others recreating in or on the water, including people in paddle craft to avoid schooling fish and seals, which are prey for sharks."

Swimmers at Popham Beach State Park and Reid State Park are not allowed beyond waist-deep water until further notice.

Ferry Beach State Park and Crescent Beach State Park remain restricted to waist-deep water access too, as well as all other coastal Maine state parks.

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The Department says their plan is to continue to patrol for sharks to try to confirm the presence, location, and species of sharks in the area and to notify municipalities to ensure the safety of beachgoers.

“The reports we’ve received of sharks, combined with more observations of seals with injuries that are consistent with shark bites, plus data that confirms that sharks are active within the Gulf of Maine from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia means we will continue to emphasize caution for anyone recreating in and on our coastal waters for the remainder of the summer,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said.

DMR says they were notified of a shark approximately 75 yards offshore of Popham Beach on Wednesday, but when Marine Patrol responded they didn't see a shark. The Marine Patrol pilot did spot a sunfish when he flew over the area, which could have been confused for a shark. 

There was another report of a shark near Cousins Island on Wednesday, but the Department hasn't been able to verify if it was a white shark. Out of an abundance of caution, the sighting triggered a shark advisory for Broad Cove Reserve, but that was lifted Thursday morning.

To report a sighting to Marine Patrol, find your local patrol officer here.