The Maine Department of Marine Resources has confirmed the identity of the woman killed yesterday by a shark attack near Bailey Island. “Today I have the sad duty of confirming that Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City died yesterday as a result of a shark attack while swimming near Bailey Island,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher.
The incident occurred yesterday (July 27) at 3:20 p.m. approximately 20 yards from the western shore of the island where she was swimming with a family member. Nearby kayakers who witnessed the incident helped bring Julie to shore where she was pronounced deceased by EMS personnel called the scene by another witness on shore.
“I want to first express my condolences to Julie’s friends and family, and to thank the individuals who responded and help bring this situation to a closure,” said Commissioner Keliher.
According to a Department of Marine Resources press release, Commissioner Keliher also confirmed that, after consulting with Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries Senior Scientist Gregory Skomal, Ph.D, the shark involved in the incident was a great white shark. Dr. Skomal,, who is involved in shark research, was able to identify the shark as a great white through evidence provided by the Maine Marine Patrol and the medical examiners office.
Commissioner Keliher emphasized how uncommon the incident was. “It is the only confirmed fatality in Maine waters from a shark attack,” said Commissioner Keliher. The only other confirmed shark attack in Maine waters occurred 10 years ago near Eastport, and that shark was reported to be a porbeagle.
He added that, although the incident of a shark attach in Maine waters is extremely rare, people should use caution when swimming or paddling in areas where there are schooling fish or seals. “Seals feed on fish and sharks feed on seals,” added Commissioner Keliher.
“We urge swimmers and others recreating in or on the water in the Casco bay region, and in particular near Bailey Island to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid schools of fish or seals, which attract sharks,” said Commissioner Keliher. The Commissioner emphasized that areas where seals congregate such as places on the shore where they haul themselves out of the water should be avoided.
According to Marine Patrol Major Rob Beal, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office along with Orrs and Bailey Island Fire and Rescue responded to the incident.
“We will continue to monitor the area near Bailey Island for sharks and we ask the public to report any shark sightings to your local marine patrol officer,” said Major Beal.