A large shark that was filmed swimming close to the shore of Hermit Island in Phippsburg last week is most likely a blue shark.

Blue sharks do not pose much of a threat to humans, but marine scientists who viewed the video caution that it is best not to get too close to any shark.

In the videos, which were provided to the Press Herald by a group hiking near Spring Beach on Hermit Island in Phippsburg last week, a large shark can be seen thrashing about in the waters close to the shoreline.

The marine scientists said the shark is likely a blue shark, but could be a thresher shark. No matter which species of shark it is, marine scientists caution the public about getting too close to the creatures, especially when they are that close to shore.

“I think any shark could be dangerous if humans get too close or provoke the animal,” said John Mohan, an assistant professor at the University of New England’s Marine Science Center. “Sharks have sharp teeth, powerful muscles and flexibility and some smaller sharks have spines. I think the shark (in the video) might be stressed since it was in shallow water. I would not recommend the public interact with it.”

“Common thresher sharks are normally found in our waters, so that shark may have got stuck in shallow water with changing tides,” Mohan wrote in an email.


Matthew Davis, a marine resource scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, also weighed in after watching the video. He is the head of the department’s shark monitoring program.

In an email, Davis said the shark looks more like a larger blue shark to him based on its fin shapes and tail movements.

“We’ve caught several dozen blue sharks this year and their upper caudal lobe moves very similar to this, and while not as long as the thresher’s, it is still proportionally very large,” said Davis, who also checked in with a Massachusetts scientist who has been studying shark science for more than two decades.

“Based on his personal experience of land-based sightings, he thinks this is more likely a blue shark,” Davis said.

Both blue and thresher sharks are seasonal natives to the Gulf of Maine.

The video footage was taken by Morgan Farren, who wrote in an email to the Press Herald that she and her family were hiking around Hermit Island on Thursday when they spotted the shark swimming close to shore. She said the shark seemed to be chasing its prey toward shore before it turned around and went back into deeper water.

She estimated the shark’s length at about 8 to 10 feet.

Blue sharks are curious predators that live in oceans spanning the world, according to the website of Oceana, an ocean conservation group. They spend most of their lives away from the coast. Their name comes from the blue color of their skin. Blue sharks can reach lengths of up to 9 or 10 feet. Their prey consists of small fish and small squids. The sharks use their large pectoral fins to ride currents, as a way to conserve energy as they migrate. In rare instances, they have bitten people.

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