Great White Shark In Maine? Not So Fast, Researchers Say

Authorities are investigating the presence of several sharks off the coast of a popular beach in Maine, after multiple sightings over the weekend led some observers to assert that the animals were great whites.

The sharks were spotted multiple times, according to the Daily Mail, most notably just a mile from Moody Beach in Portland, an area popular with local surfers. During that encounter, guests aboard a chartered fishing cruise were able to photograph a shark's fin as it broke the surface, while the boat approached the supposed great white closely three times.

One of the passengers on the charter boat, Jaron Thibault, observed that the "white" shark appeared skittish around the boat, despite the predator's fearsome reputation.

"It was spooked very easily," he noted.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, however, asserted on Twitter that the animal was actually a basking shark. They cited the shape of the shark's dorsal fin, a characteristic often used to differentiate the species from great whites.

Meanwhile, a group of anglers operating roughly 26 miles from Portland reported a similar sighting of an animal they deemed a white shark. As the Portland Press Herald reports, that shark sighting occurred at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday. Kevin Proctor, a marine engineer, was fishing for blue sharks with four friends, experiencing bad luck in a spot that usually yields great results. As the team questioned their tactics, one of their number, Scott Lever, leaned over the side of the boat and observed a grey shape in the water beneath them.

"He said, 'Is that a whale?' " Proctor recalled.

The anglers described the alleged white shark as roughly six-feet wide and three-feet-longer than their boat. The shark was reportedly gray with white spots, sporting the usual vertical caudal fin indicative of a shark.

Since the boat the anglers were aboard was 22-feet-long, a shark measuring three-feet-longer is unlikely to have been a great white, as such an animal would shatter all size records for the species, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Due to the presence of spots and its reported size, it appears more likely that the anglers observed either a whale shark or a basking shark, which are known to exhibit both qualities and can at times be mistaken for a great white.

A third shark sighting was reported at Old Orchard Beach on Saturday by a master diver who alleged that he observed a great white. Wells beach was closed for two hours on Saturday following the first sighting, though rain was responsible for keeping many beachgoers away.

Though such sightings are not uncommon in Maine, Wells Police Sgt. Kevin Chabot noted in a statement that it would be unusual to see a great white shark so early in the season, and so close to shore.

[Image: Jaron Thibault via the Daily Mail]