“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,” Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement.
Kayakers in the area brought Holowach back to shore and called for emergency services, DMR said on Monday. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“In the face of that type of situation, the fact that they were able to kayak in that area and bring the body back to shore was nothing more than miraculous.” Keliher said. “We sincerely thank them.”
The diver was uninjured and captured the incident on video. Officials believe the shark thought the diver’s camera was food, according to CBC
Identifying the shark
The shark that killed Holowach was a great white shark, Keliher said. A fragment of a tooth was able to help scientist positively identify the species. These sharks are common in Maine waters this time of year, but sightings are relatively rare, according to The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
The Maine Marine Patrol surveyed the area by boat and air on Tuesday but didn’t observe any sharks in the area, Beal said at the conference.
“It is tragic but also an isolated incident we are trying to work our way through that the state’s never seen,” Beal said.
Officials emphasized not to swim or paddle around schooling fish or seals, since they are prey for sharks. Increased patrolling will continue in the area and if anyone spots a shark, they are encouraged to call the local marine patrol officer, Beal said.
DNR will continue to investigate this attack, Keliher said. He is working in conjunction with Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries Senior Scientist Gregory Skomal. Keliher added that Skomal will be reviewing data of around 200 sharks that have been tagged in Massachusetts to see if any moved north.
CNN’s Travis Nichols contributed to this report.