Wells police Sgt. Chad Arrowsmith told the station a man on a paddleboat said he saw what he believed to be a 12-foot great white shark in the water between Wells Beach and North Beach just after 1 p.m., and authorities cleared the water as a precaution.
Two additional shark fin sightings were subsequently reported in the area as well, Arrowsmith told WCSH, with the third witness saying the creature was a basking shark, a much more docile shark often mistaken for a great white.
Arrowsmith said swimmers were allowed to return to the water at around 3:15 p.m. Sunday, after the harbor master searched the area and found no sign of the animal.
Researchers say great whites can be found in waters as low as the low 50s. According to the National Oceanographic Data Center, the average ocean water temperatures from Portland to Bar Harbor remain in the 50s or higher from June through October, and there are two to three sightings reported off the coast of Maine each summer, with Sunday’s believed to be the first of 2017.
The massive razor-tooth 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.