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Environment and Outdoors

New buoy in Saco Bay will track white sharks in real time

Pat Wellenbach
AP file
A man wades across a shallow part of Popham Beach as the ocean makes its way out during low tide on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 in Phippsburg, Maine.

A new buoy is in Saco Bay that's designed to detect tagged fish — including white sharks — in real time.

Students and faculty from the University of New England deployed the buoy this week. UNE assistant professor John Mohan says the buoy's use was prompted by a fatal shark attack in Harpswell two years ago.

"To basically listen for white sharks that are being tagged down in Cape Cod and trying to determine if they're coming up here to Maine," he says. "And are they present around popular beaches where there's a lot of human use? And so ultimately, the project is really focused on public safety."

Mohan says Maine's Department of Marine Resources will deploy a second buoy at Popham Beach in Phippsburg. When sharks are detected, Mohan says lifeguards and public safety officials will receive alerts.

The project was funded by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and is a collaboration with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and fisheries agencies in Maine and Massachusetts.