14 July is National Shark Awareness Day, according to National Today.
The people of Maine are not used to the idea of shark attacks in their coastal waters, but this year will different. This article is not meant to frighten but to raise awareness. The best defense against any danger is situational awareness.
What’s particularly significant about that is that it is nearly one year since Julie Holowach was attacked and killed last 27 July while swimming with her daughter just off the beach at Mackerel Cove in Harpswell, Maine, which is just a short way up the coast from Bar Harbor, Maine.
Bar Harbor, Maine, attracts more than 3 million tourists every summer; most will head out to Acadia National Park. Still, many will head to Sandy Beach and other beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.
The attack on Julie Holowach was the third recorded death from a shark attack in Maine since 1936. It left the Mid-Maine Coastal community shocked and wondering how many more are out there and is it safe to go back in the water.
Great whites are the most populous of the species found in the coastal waters, but sightings are rare due to the turbulent and icy water.
The Great White Shark population
Up until the 1970s, fishermen were paid to thin the seal population, a great white’s favorite meal, hoping that their numbers would decrease. Maine enacted laws in the 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s to protect its population. Currently, in Maine, the population is unknown due to little research into the topic and the lack of sightings and attacks.
The tragic death of Holowach changed the state’s mindset about sharks, and the Maine Department of Marine Research sought the help of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, who has been documenting the marine animal’s activity in their coastal waters. Acoustic receivers were placed in the coastal waters off Maine, and they began tagging some, but due to water conditions, it has been complex, resulting in scarce little new data.
How common shark sightings are in Maine
“After a fatal shark attack in Harpswell, Maine, on July 27, we took a look at how common shark attacks and shark sightings are in Maine.” — Bangor Daily News.
Shark Awareness Day
Town officials in Bar Harbor, Maine, are paying close attention. Much of the town’s income is dependent on the tourist trade that peaks between July and September, the same period when the highest number of sharks are present.
This year on 14 July, the town will host events for Shark Awareness Day to lower potential fear and hopefully educate people about common misconceptions.
They will include information on what should be done if swimmers and tourists spot a shark in the swim waters close to Mount Desert Island. Information will get shared about whom to contact about the sighting.
Bar Harbor, Maine, doesn’t have access to an early warning system as some areas do. They will be relying on extra eyes, watching the water, and using flags to alert people.
This day of awareness is being honored in many coastal areas of the US, especially those with high-density populations of sharks. Though attacks are rare, there is a stigma against these marine animals that the fallacious depiction created by Hollywood has only enhanced. In mainstream entertainment, they are made out to be monsters, and news reports like the tragedy last summer seem to heighten fear instead of awareness.
The benefits of a shark population
Rarely are stories told about the benefits the sharks bring to the ocean’s ecosystem. Their eating habits help control other species, which is vital to keeping sea meadows and coral reefs healthy and lowering CO2 being released from the oceans.
Shark attacks against humans can be horrific to witness and end in tragedy, but they are few in numbers globally. The human species is more of a threat to the sharks than vice versa.
Education and more research can reveal the mysteries of their behavior easing the tensions people have towards them. It will also allow for better warning systems along the Maine coast.
JAWS - Modern Trailer (2020)
Chandler Patterson uploaded this trailer to YouTube, so if you enjoyed it, “like” or subscribe.
My favorite line from the original movie released in 1975 was when Roy Scheider asks, “Is it true that most people get attached by sharks in three feet of water, ten feet from the beach?” And Richard Dreyfuss answers, “Yeah.”
It was pure genius by Peter Benchley, the author and screenwriter.
“Maine — The Way Life Should Be!”
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