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Swimmer Killed In Apparent Shark Attack Off Maine Coast

A woman was killed off of the coast of Harpswell, Maine on Monday in what authorities say appears to be a shark attack, believed to be the first recorded fatal attack in the state's history.

Maine Marine Patrol spokesman Jeff Nichols says the victim was swimming with another person near the shores of White Sails Lane on Bailey Island. Nichols says she was injured in what appeared  to be a shark attack.

"There were some kayakers nearby, who brought her to shore," Nichols says. "But, unfortunately, the EMS responders who brought her on-scene pronounced her deceased."

The Marine Patrol had few other details available on Monday night. But if confirmed, researchers say the attack would be the first fatal shark attack recorded in the state.

It's about as rare as you can possibly get," says Dr. James Sulikowski. "This is the first documented fatality ever."

Sulikowski is an Arizona State University professor who researches sharks off the coast of New England. He says researchers have documented more great white sharks moving into Maine waters in recent years from Cape Cod, potentially in search of seals. He says it may only take 24 hours for a shark to make the journey north.

"What we think is, some of those littler sharks - when I say little, ones that are 10 or 11 feet - are peeling off and possibly coming up and checking out some other areas that are potential food resources," Sulikowski says.

Sulikowski says he was recently sent photos of a seal in nearby Phippsburg with large bite marks that he believes could be from a great white shark.

Meanwhile, the Maine Marine Patrol is advising swimmers in the area to avoid places populated with seals and schooling fish.

This story is a production of New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by Maine Public Radio on July 27. 

This article was originally published on July 27, 2020.

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