In a Monday Facebook post, the Maine Marine Patrol said it was investigating the woman’s death. The incident took place in Casco Bay near Bailey Island, which is part of the town of Harpswell in Cumberland County.
“According to Marine Patrol, an eye witness reported that the woman was swimming off the shore near White Sails Lane when she was injured in what appeared to be a shark attack,” the Facebook post reads, later noting that the individual was declared deceased after being brought to shore by nearby kayakers.
“No other information is available at this time and the investigation into the incident is continuing. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” the notice adds.
Authorities identified the victim on Tuesday as Julie Dimperio Holowach and revealed that she was attacked by a great white shark.
"It is tragic but also an isolated incident that we're kind of working our way through, that the state's never seen," Major Rob Beal of the Maine Marine Patrol said at a news conference, NBC reported. Holowach was attacked just before 3:30 p.m. local time on Monday while she was swimming about 20 yards from shore with her daughter.
Maine Marine Patrol Commissioner Patrick Keliher also confirmed Tuesday that Holowach's daughter was uninjured during the attack and swam back to shore. Keliher also noted that there had been reports of seals with bite marks in the area where Holowach was attacked, though he added that shark reports in the area are not unheard of.
"This is a predator-prey relationship issue," Keliher said. "It's the presence of seals that are really the driver here."
Despite the latest incident, shark sightings in the Gulf of Maine, of which Casco Bay is a part, are relatively uncommon.
"Though sightings are relatively rare, white sharks have long been known to be seasonal inhabitants of the Gulf of Maine, and they have been observed preying on seals and porpoises in Maine's coastal waters," the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy's Cynthia Wigren told New England Cable News.