What weighs more than 800 pounds, travelled 1,700 miles from North Carolina to Maine, and was last seen off the coast of Cape Elizabeth?

My uncle riding a Harley hog, but also Freya the great white shark.

For most of us living in Maine, hearing the word “shark” brings about immediate images of man-eating Jaws and vicious apex predators. With recent warming temperatures, that fear has been brought to life as our shark population continues to grow and sightings are on the rise.

It’s not that Maine natives are wussies; we just aren’t used to these guys hanging out in our (usually too cold) waters.

I don’t know about you, but growing up swimming in Casco Bay I never once worried about a shark attack. Now… well, it’s definitely on my mind.

Back in 2020, Maine waters saw an upswing in our seal population due to legal protection, which, along with warmer waters, has aided in the rise of our “new” shark friends.

I get it, seals are cute, sharks not so much.

But what if I told you a booming seal population was more hazardous to us than the sharp-toothed predators? We compete with seals for fish and lobster, so an overbearing seal population means fewer resources for our fishermen and some pretty grumpy lobstermen.

For peace of mind, you can track sharks nearby using a website and phone app run by OCEARCH.

With a drive to help scientists gain previously unattainable data, OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a mission to restore the ocean and the ecosystems within it. The organization has been conducting research on large critters in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean for the past 9 years and was just here in Maine last month!

Everyone take a nice, long sigh of relief together: We are learning more about these new additions to Maine waters. With the help of non-profits like OCEARCH, we are gaining insight on shark patterns and behavior so we can learn how to co-exist with our new neighbors.

The key to a healthy ecosystem? Sharks. So, instead of freaking out that there’s a great white the weight of a motorcycle this close to home, just repeat after me: Freya is our friend. Freya is our friend.

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