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Shark sightings have beachgoers talking

What three separate groups reported as a possible great white shark off the Maine coast was most likely a basking shark.
Possible great white shark sighting in Wells Harbor

ID=29068845WELLS, Maine (NECN) -- After three separate groups reported seeing a great white shark off the coast of Maine this weekend, experts are analyzing images from the sightings.

Professor James Sulikowski, a shark researcher from the University of New England, has concluded that the shark was most likely a basking shark.

Police in Wells said fishermen off of Moody Beach reported seeing what they thought was a great white shark Saturday. Later, fishermen off of the coast of Portland and a scuba diver near Old Orchard Beach reported a similar sighting.

Sulikowski said basking and great whites have similar characteristics, but the dorsal fin has a different shape. The biggest difference, he said, is in the bite. Basking sharks have very small teeth.

"Unless you get in front of the mouth, get sucked in and get gummed to death, that's about it for the basking shark," said Sulikowski. "No worries."

But lifeguards at Old Orchard Beach have still been taking the possibility of a shark in the water seriously.

"We're watching the water, and watching for anything out of the ordinary," said Keith Willett, lifeguard Captain at Old Orchard Beach.

Beachgoers have been talking about the shark, but haven't been deterred from enjoying the water.

"The movie 'Jaws' caused all the stir up," said Pat Shabot on Moody Beach. "It sensationalized it."

"I think it's great," said her husband, Phil Shabot. "I wouldn't mind seeing one."

The sightings happen to fall on the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie "Jaws."

Sulikowski said shark sightings may become more common, as water temperatures in Maine increase and the seal population grows.

He said it's important to remind people that shark attacks are extremely rare, and an unprovoked attack has never been reported in Maine waters.

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