Monday, Aug. 01, 2011

Jersey Shore Attacks, 1916

The first half of July 1916 brought a wave of panic throughout the East Coast of the U.S. as five people suffered shark attacks at New Jersey beach towns. The attacks began at Beach Haven on July 1 when a Philadelphia-based vacationer had his legs ripped open by a shark and, although he was pulled to shore, subsequently bled to death. Five days later, a Swiss man was injured so severely by a shark bite that he turned a large swath of water red with his blood — leading lifeguards to believe that a red boat had capsized near the shore. This attack set off a national media frenzy and both the House of Representatives and President Woodrow Wilson held meetings about the public-safety crisis. Still, public awareness did not prevent three more attacks, including two fatal ones in a creek. Though a great white shark was caught near the creek on the day of the final attack, and human remains were found in its stomach, to this day, scientists remain divided over whether this shark was really the "New Jersey man-eater."