NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Authorities in Maine say a woman killed in a shark attack was from New York City.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources says 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowach was bitten while swimming with her daughter 20 yards off the shore of Bailey Island on Monday.
Two kayakers helped get her to shore, but EMS responders couldn’t save her.
She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her daughter was uninjured.
“We were able to recover a fragment of a tooth,” said Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “[We were] able to positively identify this as a great white shark.”
Including this incident, there have only been two unprovoked shark attacks ever recorded in Maine. This is Maine’s first confirmed shark attack fatality.
Officials say Holowach was wearing a wet suit and the shark may have mistaken her for a seal.
“This is a predator-prey relationship issue, so this is, it’s the presence of seals that are really the driver here,” Keliher said.
Graphic photos from Arizona State University’s Sulikowski Lab show how large sharks have been hunting seals in Maine recently.
Research group OCEARCH tags and studies sharks.
“We tagged a total of 55 white sharks on the eastern seaboard. About 15-17 of those are actively pinging now because the battery in the tag only lasts five years,” Chris Fischer, with OCEARCH, told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
That includes in our area.
“The south shore of Long Island and that New York, New Jersey bay is a birthing area for the north Atlantic white sharks, and the big females are coming in there to drop off their pups,” Fischer said.
Multiple shark sightings Monday closed a 13-mile stretch of beach from Atlantic to Jones.
Atlantic Beach was closed Tuesday after lifeguards say they spotted a bull shark.
Fischer says look around before you get in the water. Are birds swooping down to grab fish? Are there seals? People using bait?
If so, move away and go somewhere quieter.
“Once you’re in the ocean and you go past waist-deep or so, you are deep into the wild. Anything can happen,” Fischer said.
There will be extra helicopter patrols over the shoreline in New York and other marine patrols to help alert beach-goers Wednesday.