Great white shark spotted in Passamaquoddy Bay

In 2012, it was squid.

This summer, it’s jellyfish that seem to be showing up in unusual abundance in the historically cold water of the Gulf of Maine.

And now there’s a report of another kind of visitor being spotted along Maine’s coast – one that may send chills up your spine, despite the gulf’s increasing water temperatures.

According to a tour boat operator in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, just across the mouth of the Saint Croix River from Robbinston, Maine, a great white shark was spotted Monday just outside Saint Andrews harbor. According to a CBC story on the sighting, the shark “calmly swam in large circles” next to the boat for about 10 minutes before swimming away.

Here’s a video of the encounter that someone posted on Youtube:

“It’s got to be 15 feet [long],” someone says (off camera) in the video.

It’s not the first time there has been a shark encounter in the area. In 2010, a diver avoided injury when he used an underwater video camera to fight off an attack from a porbeagle shark in Broad Cove off Eastport. Other types of sharks that have been seen off Maine’s coast over the years include basking, sand, tiger, mako, thresher and blue sharks – and, of course, the ubiquitous dogfish.

Another story of a great white encounter in the region – off Grand Manan Island, which separates Maine from the Bay of Fundy – is the stuff of legend. Which, of course, probably means it is not entirely accurate.

As the tale goes, a great white shark swam into and got stuck in a herring weir next to White Head Island, off Grand Manan, in 1930. Local residents and fishermen went to remove it and, after dragging it out and killing it, measured its length to a whopping 37 feet. Though there is ongoing disagreement about how big great whites can grow, the most generally-accepted view is that 20 feet is about as big as they can get.

Regardless of their size, increasing numbers of great whites might appear in the Gulf of Maine in summer because of the gulf’s seal population, which is believed to be on the rise, according to experts. Scientists and fishermen have said that though shark sightings are rare, they are not surprising, given the wide coastal territory of sharks and the food supply in the gulf.

If you want to read my story about what the tour guide is saying about the St. Andrews shark encounter, and about what scientists are saying about the prevalence of great whites in the Northeast, click here.

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.