A woman has been killed in the first fatal great white shark attack recorded within the US state of Maine.
The woman was swimming near Bailey Island – on the brink of the town of Portland – on Monday when she was attacked.
She was named as Julie Holowach, 63, a recently retired fashion executive from NY.
This is the second shark attack which was seen in Maine, USA. The species is less common in the region because of its cooler waters.
Ms. Holowach was swimming just 18 meters (60ft) offshore together with her daughter near Mackerel Cove when she was attacked, consistent with the Portland Press Herald. The younger woman was uninjured.
A neighbor, Tom Whyte, told the newspaper he had seen the attack from his office overlooking the cove.
“You could hear her giggling and laughing,” Mr. Whyte said. “All of a sudden Julie just started screaming for help.
“And all of a sudden Julie went under. It looked like she was pulled under.”
He said Ms. Holowach’s daughter had started swimming towards her.
Another witness told the Press Herald there was “a lot of blood within the water”.
Two kayakers helped Ms. Holowach get to shore after the attack.
An ambulance was also available to assist at the scene, but she was later pronounced dead.
A tooth fragment from the scene confirmed she had been attacked by an excellent great white shark, an area official said.
Ms. Holowach was reportedly wearing a garment and her daughter wasn’t, fuelling speculation locally that the shark may have mistaken the older woman for a seal.
Great whites are sighted in recent summers in Maine, where many seals swim in local waters.
The only previous such attack recorded in Maine waters happened in 2010 and involved a diver avoiding a porbeagle shark, consistent with the Press Herald report. The diver was not injured.
Ms. Holowach had retired early after a highly successful career as a fashion executive, the NY Post reported.
“She’s one among the happiest, most energetic people with the best disposition and zest,” long-time friend Karen Murray told the Post, adding that the victim had two children, a son, and daughter.
“Julie ran marathons. She actually did triathlons. She was in great, great physical shape. She made her money, and she or he wanted to spend time together with her family.”
She reportedly split her time between her summer range in Maine, NY City and Naples, Florida.
Sharks are sighted in various places off the north-east US coast in recent weeks, particularly around Long Island in NY, the AFP press agency reports.
There have also been previous sightings around Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where a surfer was killed by an excellent white in September 2018.