“Today I have a sad duty to confirm that Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City, died yesterday as a result of a shark attack while swimming near Bailey Island,” said the Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources for Maine (DMR) Patrick Keliher in a statement.
Kayakers in the area took Holowach back to shore and called for emergency services, DMR said Monday. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“In that kind of situation, the fact that they were able to kayak in that area and bring the body back to shore was nothing short of miraculous.” Keliher said. “We sincerely thank you.”
The diver was not injured and captured the incident on video. Authorities 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 scientists positively identify the species. These sharks are common in Maine waters at this time of year, but sightings are relatively rare, according to The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
The Maine Marine Patrol inspected the area by boat and air on Tuesday, but did not see sharks in the area, Beal said at the conference.
“It is tragic, but it is also an isolated incident that we are trying to overcome and that the state has never seen,” Beal said.
Officials emphasized not swimming or paddling around fish or seals, as they are prey to sharks. The increase in patrols will continue in the area and if anyone sees a shark, they are encouraged to call the local marine patrol officer, Beal said.
DNR will continue to investigate this attack, Keliher said. She is working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries Chief Scientist Gregory Skomal. Keliher added that Skomal will review data on about 200 sharks that have been tagged in Massachusetts to see if any moved north.
CNN’s Travis Nichols contributed to this report.