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Great white shark sighted off the coast of Wells, Maine

A great white shark was spotted near Wells Beach in Maine.
A great white shark was spotted near Wells Beach in Maine.Wells (Maine) Police Department

A 9-foot great white shark was spotted in the ocean near Wells, Maine, around noon Thursday, causing lifeguards to clear two beaches, authorities said.

Several beachgoers told a lifeguard they had seen fins in the water off Wells Beach, and a short time later the Maine Marine Patrol notified Wells Harbormaster Michael Yorke of a confirmed great white shark sighting near a buoy outside the mouth of Wells Harbor, police said in a statement.

A Maine Marine Patrol spokesman could not be reached Thursday evening.

The sighting comes less than three weeks after a retired fashion executive was killed by a great white shark while swimming 20 yards off Bailey Island in Harpswell, roughly 60 miles up the coast from Wells.

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After Thursday’s sighting, lifeguards began to clear Wells Beach and the beach at Drakes Island, telling visitors not to go into the water over their knees if they went in at all, police said.

Yorke and Wells Fire Chief Mark A. Dupuis visited the beach but were unable to find the shark, and it had not been seen again as of about 3 p.m., police said.

Authorities notified the Kennebunkport harbor master of the sighting. Yorke and the town’s lifeguards will be watching for the shark to return in the coming days, police said.

“It is not uncommon for Great White Sharks to be in Maine waters during this time of year,” police said. “Any possible sightings should be reported to the local authorities.”

On July 27, Julie Dimperio Holowach, a 63-year-old seasonal resident of Maine, was killed by a great white shark as she swam in the waters off Bailey Island with her daughter. Her death marked the first confirmed fatal shark attack in Maine’s history.

Afterward, Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands imposed restrictions limiting swimmers to waist-deep water at the Popham, Ferry, and Crescent Beach State Parks. Those restrictions were lifted Aug. 3.

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Sharks have been spotted near New England beaches multiple times this summer, included separate sightings last week that temporarily closed beaches in Truro and Wellfleet on Thursday and Friday.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.