Officials investigating report of shark sighting near Wells Beach

A couple looks out over the ocean at Wells Beach in this undated York County Coast Star file photo. A shark was reportedly seen by a fisherman on a nearby jetty Wednesday evening, but police say they have yet to confirm the sighting.
York County Coast Star
A couple looks out over the ocean at Wells Beach in this undated York County Coast Star file photo. A shark was reportedly seen by a fisherman on a nearby jetty Wednesday evening, but police say they have yet to confirm the sighting.
Posted Aug. 01, 2013, at 1:08 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 01, 2013, at 7:41 p.m.

WELLS, Maine — A person fishing off a Wells Beach jetty reported seeing a shark there Wednesday evening, Wells police Sgt. Kevin Chabot said Thursday.

“About 40 feet from them, they saw what in their opinion was a shark,” Chabot said. “It was a large fish with a dorsal fin that looked like it was hunting.”

The jetty extends about 300 feet into the ocean, Chabot said, and the sighting occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

He said that police boats and on-shore monitors were deployed to investigate, but thus far, neither police nor Maine Marine Patrol officials have been able to confirm the sighting.

Chabot said on some previous occasions, Wells Beach shark reports turned out to be sightings of sunfish, which are similarly large and have pronounced dorsal fins as well.

But he added, “It’s not an absurd concept to think that [sharks are] hunting, especially with the warmer water, and that they chased a fish in closer to the jetty.”

“They do live in the ocean off the coast of Maine, but there’s nothing that would cause alarm or a beach closure at this time,” he said.

Law enforcement and wildlife management officials reportedly respond to reports of shark sightings by attempting to identify the type of shark, the number of sharks, their size, proximity to shore and direction of travel.

Shark sightings can be reported to Wells police at 646-9354.

In August 2002, sightings of at least two sharks — including one approximately 12 feet long — forced the closure of Wells Beach to swimmers on multiple days. Wildlife experts at the time told The Associated Press they believed the sharks to be blue sharks or mako sharks, either of which can be a threat to humans.

In the aftermath of the 2002 sightings, tourists reportedly flocked to the beach in hopes of getting a glimpse of the ocean predators.

Last summer, a now-famous photo of a great white shark following a kayaker off Cape Cod captured global media attention. Scientists told the BDN at the time that the great whites travel as far north as Canada in the North Atlantic, indicating that they are swimming off the coast of Maine, although the animals are rarely seen in the Gulf of Maine.

The massive razor-toothed fish was made one of nature’s best known villains in the 1975 Steven Spielberg horror movie “Jaws,” and is listed by the cable network Animal Planet as the natural world’s No. 1 predator — ahead of lions, grizzly bears and crocodiles.

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