Great white shark attacked, killed swimmer off Maine coast, officials say

It is the first fatal shark attack recorded in Maine.


The Maine Marine Patrol identified a woman killed in a shark attack near Bailey Island in Harpswell on Monday.

Witnesses told Marine Patrol that Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City, was swimming near White Sails Lane and appeared to be injured by a shark.

The attack happened at about 3:30 p.m. about 20 yards offshore. Holowach was swimming with her daughter who was not injured. Officials said Holowach was wearing a wet suit when she was attacked by the shark.

Kayakers brought Holowach to shore and first responders were called to the scene, but she died.

The Maine Marine Patrol said a recovered tooth fragment confirmed that Holowach was attacked by a great white shark.

Maine Marine Patrol is urging swimmers and boaters to use caution near Bailey Island until further notice — and to avoid swimming near seals or schools of fish.

Officials said people need to avoid areas where seals and schooling fish congregate as they are prey of sharks.

People are urged to report any shark sightings to officials. The Maine Marine Patrol is patrolling the area.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said swimmers at nearby Popham and Reid State Parks are not allowed beyond waist-deep water until further notice out of an abundance of caution.

It is the first fatal shark attack recorded in Maine. A non-fatal shark attack was reported about 10 years ago in Eastport. That shark was not a great white, officials said.

Dr. James Sulikowski of Arizona State University, an expert on sharks in New England, called the attack "surprising and shocking."

He also said sharks could be spreading north from Cape Cod as they look for food, adding that Maine has a large seal population.

Sulikowski also said a seal was killed by an apparent shark bite in Phippsburg on Sunday.

He said based on the bite size on the seal, the shark involved would have been at least 11 feet long.