A great white shark. Credit: Courtesy of Sharkdiver68 via Wikimedia Commons

A great white shark was spotted off Wells on Thursday, prompting officials to clear local beaches.

Beachgoers spotted a shark fin about noon off Wells Beach, according to the Wells Police Department.

The Maine Marine Patrol later confirmed a great white shark, described as 9 feet long, was spotted near the jetties at the mouth of Wells Harbor, police said Thursday.

Searchers were unable to locate the shark, but lifeguards cleared Wells Beach as well as beaches at Drakes Island. Beachgoers were restricted to water up to their knees.

The sighting comes weeks after the first recorded fatal shark attack in Maine on July 27, when 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowach of New York City was attacked by a great white shark while swimming in Mackerel Cove off Bailey Island in Harpswell.

The Maine coast is at the northern edge of the great white shark’s range, but the fish are not commonly spotted off Maine. There are two to three sightings of great white sharks off the Maine coast each summer, according to the National Oceanographic Data Center, with recent recorded sightings near a popular Kennebunkport beach in 2019, near Stratton Island off Old Orchard Beach in 2018 and near Wells in 2017. Another sighting was reported off Bailey Island on July 31.

The fatal shark attack prompted swimming restrictions at several coastal state parks, which have since been lifted.

Wells police said the shark has not been spotted since, but authorities will remain vigilant for additional sightings.