A new shark flag warning system in Maine is getting its first few uses, roughly a year after the state's first fatal shark attack.
The flags have been used twice in the past several weeks, according to Jim Britt, the communications director for Maine's Bureau of Parks and Lands: First at Popham Beach in Phippsburg and, most recently, on Friday at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth.
"This was an acknowledgment of a shark in the area on an app called Sharktivity," said Britt during a Monday interview, explaining that Maine officials noticed a shark ping on the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy's Sharktivity app.
As a result, Britt said, protocols prompted lifeguards to put the flag up reminding beachgoers to stay close to shore.
At the same time, gate staff at the parks are instructed to notify people about the shark flag as they enter.
"It's a really straightforward protocol," said Britt, who added that there have been no issues when lifeguards deployed the flag system.
For beachgoers at Crescent Beach Monday, the idea there are sharks off of Maine that are close enough to impact swimmers is still somewhat of a new concept they are getting used to.
"I was shocked," said Karen Miguel of Melrose, Massachusetts, who explained that hearing about sharks off of Cape Cod is routine.
"My sister's got [the Sharktivity app], she's tracking it from the Cape all over," said Miguel, adding that the app gives her an extra level of comfort.
Listen to our free podcast, "Shark Tales," which explores the world of sharks in New England with our partners at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. It's on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
"You don't really feel like you're swimming with them unless you don't have the app," she said.
The shark flag at Crescent Beach was taken down at the end of the day on Friday and has not been raised since.