As Big Sharks Move North, Here’s How To Protect Yourself
Cue the ominous music. They're here.
Yesterday brought the unfortunate news of a woman being attacked and killed by a shark off the coast of Harpswell, near Bailey Island in southern Maine, and after years of reading about the waters in the Gulf of Maine warming and big sharks moving north this really comes as no surprise to a lot of us.
There have been other encounters with big sharks close to us here in the coastal area of Maine. In July of 2018 a Coast Guard crew encountered a very large shark 7 to 10 miles off the coast of Boothbay Harbor.
Then, it was a little closer to home when local diver Ed Monat filmed this beneath the waters of Frenchman Bay by Burnt Porcupine Island about a half mile or so from the Bar Harbor town pier in August of 2015.
In July of 2014, another big shark was spotted just outside Saint Andrews Harbor in Passamaquoddy Bay by the town of Robbinston between Washington County and New Brunswick.
Besides a stray great white shark here and there, other sharks swimming off our coast include porbeagles, thresher, mako, blue sharks.
Seals are the main food for big sharks, so it's best to stay away from them while paddling on or swimming in the water, because you never know what's underneath and tracking them down. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in Massachusetts can offer you these words of advice:
- Do not swim near seals
- Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom
- Swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups
- Do not swim alone in the ocean at dawn or dusk
- Avoid isolation
- Limit splashing and do not wear shiny jewelry
- Keep your distance (at least 150 feet) from seals, whether they are resting on land or are in the water. It is against the law to disturb them
- Adhere to all signage at beaches where seals are resting
- Keep pets leashed. Inquisitive dogs can startle resting seals, resulting in seal bites or scratches to you or your pet
- Follow instructions of lifeguards
- Become familiar with the beach flag warning system
- Take time to read signage at the beaches
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has a white shark tracking app called Sharktivity, which we have on our phone. It will send you an alert every time a white shark is spotted off the coast of New England.