Shark attack victim identified as Julie Dimperio Holowach, New York woman

“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.

Holowach and her family own property in Harpswell and visit each summer for four to five months, authorities said. The small coastal town is known for its great coastline and hundreds of small islands just a boat ride away. Holowachs are well known in the tight family community, according to Marine Patrol Commander Rob Beal.
On Monday, Holowach, dressed in a wet suit, was swimming 20 yards from Bailey Island with her daughter when she was attacked, DMR said at a press conference on Tuesday. Her daughter was not injured and was able to swim to safety, they added.

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.”

His death is the first known deadly shark attack in Maine history, he said. There has only been one other shark attack in the state, according to the International Shark Attack File, a global database of shark attacks. That happened in 2010, according to CNN news partner CBC, when a commercial diver attacking in the Bay of Fundy was attacked by a shortfin shark.

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.

“… White sharks have long been known to be seasonal inhabitants of the Gulf of Maine, and have been observed hunting seals and porpoises in Maine’s coastal waters,” The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said in a statement posted on Facebook. . “Sighting data, catch records, and tagging data indicate that white sharks occur in the region from early summer to fall.”

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.