New York Woman Killed By Shark in Maine, Some NY Beaches Closed
A New York woman was fatally attacked by a great white shark. Officials believe she was mistaken for a seal.
On Monday around 3:30 p.m., an eyewitness reported that the woman was swimming off the coast of Maine when she was injured in what appeared to be a shark attack. Kayakers nearby brought her to shore and EMS responders were called to the scene where she was pronounced deceased, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
On Tuesday, Maine officials identified the woman as 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowach of New York City.
"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 Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a press release. "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."
Holowach was swimming about 20 yards offshore of Bailey Island with a family member when she was attacked. The family member wasn't injured.
Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries Senior Scientist Gregory Skomal, who is involved in shark research, identified the shark as a great white. Dr. Skomal was able to identify the shark as a great white through evidence provided by the Maine Marine Patrol and the medical examiner's office, officials say.
Officials add this was a very rare incident.
"It is the only confirmed fatality in Maine waters from a shark attack," Keliher said. "The only other confirmed shark attack in Maine waters occurred 10 years ago near Eastport, and that shark was reported to be a porbeagle."
The Boston Globe reports Holowach was wearing a black wetsuit, while her family member was in a blue wetsuit. Officials believe the shark may have mistaken Holowach for a seal because of her dark-colored wetsuit.
"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," Keliher said.
On Monday, several beaches on Long Island were closed following at least three shark sightings. On Tuesday, after another shark sighting by a Town of Hempstead lifeguard off Atlantic Beach and a reported shark sighting offshore at nearby Jones Beach, swimming was again banned at all Town of Hempstead ocean beaches. As of Wednesday morning, the swimming remains prohibited.
Officials believe sharks are getting closer to shore because as the water heats up the sharks are known to move closer to shore in search of food.