Jim Britt, communications director with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, holds a new flag Tuesday at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth in 2021. That flag is raised at Maine beaches if sharks are detected nearby. Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

There is now a dedicated phone number for reporting shark sightings in Harpswell.

The number — 1-800-501-1111 — will be answered at all times by the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center, which will then collect some information, and will then will reach out directly to a Harpswell representative who will contact the caller.

“Photographs of what you see are particularly helpful,” according to a statement released by the town. “Please do not delay in reaching out to us if you have a sighting.”

The number comes as a follow-up to the Purple Shark Flag policy adopted last year by the Harpswell Select Board.

The flag alert system, intended to warn beachgoers of a possible shark sighting, was adopted after a fatal shark attack off the coast of Bailey Island in 2020.

Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, a retired fashion executive and summer resident of Harpswell, died in 2020 after being attacked by a shark while swimming about 20 yards offshore near her home on Bailey Island.

The flag was used twice last year.

Maine is home to eight different species of sharks, including great white sharks that are considered potentially more dangerous to humans because they swim closer to the coast and feed on marine mammals.

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