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Maine beaches to display flag warning beachgoers of nearby Shark sightings

By Setareh Jalali

Following the shark attack last summer that left one woman dead, Maine state beaches and coastal parks announced that this summer they will display a flag to warn beachgoers if a shark has been spotted nearby.  

The attack last year occurred off the coast of Bailey Island, near Harpswell, Maine. The victim was a 63-year-old woman who was swimming with her daughter when she was attacked by a great white shark. According to the Times Record, it was the first documented fatal shark attack in Maine’s history.  

The purple flag with a white shark silhouette will be hoisted when there is a reported shark sighting within a quarter mile of the beach area. The flag will fly until 24-hours after the reported sighting.  

Arthur Howe, Harpswell’s fire administrator, said the flag isn’t intended to alarm people, but to keep them “aware and educated that we have sharks in our waters.” 

James Sulkowski, a former University of New England professor and researcher who conducts shark research in Maine and beyond, told the Portland Press Herald that shark sightings could become more frequent in Maine because they’re drawn to the state’s healthy seal population.  

For this reason, Sulkowski recommended people stay away from seals and avoid swimming at dusk and dawn to lower the risk of a shark interaction.  

This news comes a week after a 20-foot basking shark was spotted near Portland Harbor. Basking sharks are not considered a risk to humans as they are gentle, filter feeders, unlike carnivorous great whites.  

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