More horrifying than Jaws-- because it's true!
Since 1990 there have been 283 shark attacks worldwide-- 40 of which were fatal...In the past 15 years, reports of shark attacks have substantially increased...Over half the attacks occur in water no deeper than five feet...
Believe it or not, shark attacks are still a very real threat to humans. These unspeakably bloody encounters happen in shallow water, in "safe" areas, to people just like you-- people who thought it could never happen to them.
HONG KONG, 1995: A forty-five-year-old woman swimming in shallow water with fifty other people has one leg and one arm ripped off by the shark-- she dies before reaching the hospital.
CALIFORNIA, 1993: A man snorkeling with friends is swallowed headfirst halfway down his body-- luckily, the shark spits him back out with only bite wounds.
AUSTRALIA, 1993: A professional diver and mother of five is literally torn in half in front of her horrified family by a fifteen-foot great white shark.
HAWAII, 1991: Two vacationing friends out for a swim suddenly see a shark "the size of a car" swim by. After one of the women begins thrashing in panic, the shark attacks and kills her-- her body is later recovered with several limbs missing.
Read on for more blood-chilling accounts of people who fell prey to...SHARK ATTACKS.
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About the Author
Alex MacCormick is the author of Shark Attacks.
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By Alex MacCormick
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1998 Alex MacCormick
All rights reserved.
Holiday Snaps in the Shallows
Popular belief has it that British sharks are harmless. Tell that to the Scottish fisherman who was terribly mauled by a shark while he was fishing close inshore from his home port. Or the Devon skin-diver who fought off a big Porbeagle shark that came into shallow water off Bee Sands in Devon. Or the parents of the two children who were playing in the shallows of a well-known south coast beach when they were knocked flying by an unprovoked attack from a pair of thresher sharks.
Fortunately for the bathing and boating public, the seas around our coasts have been rich enough in fish life to satisfy any shark. Times, however, are changing. The once prolific mackerel shoals that normally supply our sharks with the bulk of their food are being decimated so rapidly by commercial overfishing that the shark population is now being forced to look elsewhere for a readily available food supply.
The Times, London, 3 July 1976
HONG KONG, 1995
Hong Kong has suddenly found its attention turned from fears of the impending Chinese takeover to something even more terrifying — a spate of shark attacks [see list here].
The latest attack, the third in two weeks, occurred yesterday at Clearwater Bay, an exclusive beachfront area of the city. Lifeguards pulled a forty-five-year-old woman out of shallow water where she had been swimming with fifty other people. Witnesses said one leg and one arm had been ripped off. She died before reaching hospital.
The attacks have confounded the politically correct view of sharks, that they are an unnecessarily victimised, environmentally friendly fish. Even Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, the man who did more than any other to besmirch the shark's reputation, has joined the revisionists. The post-modern, post-Jaws battle cry is: "Man eats more sharks than sharks eat man." But this argument is unlikely to find many adherents in Hong Kong just now.
A middle-aged swimmer said she heard the victim shouting for help with her hands raised above her. The woman then disappeared. "A pool of blood spilled out in the water, which was only up to her chest," the witness said.
The death of the woman — the third shark attack victim in a fortnight — was attributed to a possible feeding frenzy by a pack of sharks. No single species has yet been named as a suspect. But many people fear the beaches are being stalked by a large, lone killer with a taste for human flesh not too different from Mr. Benchley's celebrated protagonist.
Local experts think the same shark could be responsible for this year's attacks and other fatal attacks in recent years. In June 1993 a hair salon owner was killed while swimming in the same vicinity. Two weeks later another swimmer was killed.
Man may be ultimately responsible. Hong Kong beaches are notorious for their pollution. Garbage and sewage have been known to attract sharks. When the pollution clears, the garbage is replaced by tasty bathers.
Independent, London, 14 June 1995
SOMALIA, EAST AFRICA, 1993
The United Nations yesterday unveiled what may go down as its only success in the Somali capital, Mogadishu — an antishark net installed at a cost of £40,000 to protect UN workers on the main beach.
Shark attacks on the beach next to the international airport were unknown when hundreds of US Marines cavorted in the Indian Ocean. But, since the UN took over command of the international force in Somalia last May, three foreigners — a French woman, an American and a Russian — have been killed by sharks attracted by effluent from ships close to the shore.
The French woman was killed when she swam well out to sea, but the last two victims were taken in waist-deep water. Since then the beach has been closed.
Farouk Mawlawi, the UN spokesman in Mogadishu, yesterday defended the cost of the net and said it would be left "for the use of the Somalis" when the UN leaves.
The Times, London, 25 November 1993
HONG KONG, 1993
Stories about man-eating sharks sell newspapers from Australia to Hong Kong, and the creature or creatures that have devoured two people here in two weeks, and another two years ago, are dominating the colony's front pages.
"We stalk the killer," the Standard, the livelier of Hong Kong's two English language daily newspapers, declared yesterday. The Standard is sponsoring the visit here of Vic Hislop, a tiny Australian who is one of the world's most famous shark hunters. Mr. Hislop is a Crocodile Dundee–like character who wears a shark-tooth pendant, shorts and thongs. He has been busy for two days in his boat, flinging ducks and large fish into Silverstrand bay where Kwong Konghing, a furniture dealer, had his leg and hand bitten off in waist-deep water last Friday by a shark said to be more than eighteen feet long.
The Times, London, 15 June 1993
SANTA MARGHERITA LIGURE, ITALY, 1991
The Italian Riviera authorities have banned swimming at the height of the holiday season after a shark attacked a waterbed. Nobody was hurt. Greenpeace said the sighting had sparked unjustified hysteria, leading to "a senseless monster hunt."
Reuters, 2 August 1991
TEXAS, USA, 1987
A girl whose arm was bitten off by a shark remained hospitalized in a serious condition on Sunday, but officials said they will not close beaches to the thousands of Easter weekend visitors.
April Dawn Voglino, 16, of Kingsland, underwent surgery on Saturday at Memorial Medical Center in Corpus Christi, and was in the intensive care unit, nursing supervisor D. Brown said.
The teenager was in chest-deep water near Mustang Island on Saturday when the shark attacked her. She was swimming with her father, who pounded on the shark and carried her ashore after the shark swam away. Her arm was severed about six to eight inches above the elbow.
Nueces County Commissioner J. P. Luby, whose precinct covers two and a half miles of beaches, said the attack probably was an isolated case and he would not order the beaches closed.
Luby said he planned to fly over the area with Coast Guard officials to make observations of any sharks. The flight was delayed because of mechanical problems with the Coast Guard helicopter.
"We'll take some action if we see a lot of sharks out there," Luby said. "We've had people bitten before, but nothing as major as this."
Andre Landry, a fish behaviour expert from Texas A & M University at Galveston, said there have been between thirteen and fifteen documented shark attacks along the Texas coast within the last hundred years. "We have one incident happening like this and this arouses the concern of bathers, but it's a freak occurrence, something that should not induce fear among the bathing populace," Landry said on Sunday.
Luby said Voglino and her parents were alone at an isolated beach near Aransas Beach about 6 pm on Saturday when the attack occurred. Robert Voglino, who was swimming with his daughter, was not hurt, Luby said.
"The father heard the daughter scream and, as he turned around, he saw the daughter and the shark," Nueces County Constable Deewayne Mathews said. "He then headed directly toward his daughter. He grabbed the daughter and started beating on the shark with his other hand. At that time the shark severed the girl's arm."
Voglino continued to beat the shark and yelled at his daughter to swim to the shore, Mathews added. When the shark swam away, the father carried his daughter to shore. They flagged down a motorist who had a citizens' band radio and called for help.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 20 April 1987
FLORIDA, USA, 1984
A twenty-three-year-old woman who was attacked by a shark while swimming just twenty feet off shore underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a nine-inch gash in her right arm, a hospital official said.
Sunday's attack on Sandra Fletcher was the sixth to occur in a month along Florida's Atlantic coast.
Fletcher was in fair condition at Indian River Memorial Hospital before the operation, which was to reconnect severed nerves and tendons, and to stitch wounds made by the shark's double row of teeth.
"I knew what it was as soon as it grabbed me," she said on Monday from her hospital bed. "You always think it's something in the movies. You don't think it's going to happen to you."
Fletcher was attacked while body surfing with friends in waist-deep water three miles south of Sebastian Inlet in northern Indian River County. "I just saw all the blood in the water. I thought I was going to get it again. I was scared," the Clearwater teacher said.
Karen Kenney, 27, of Tampa, was with Fletcher and helped the injured woman pull herself free. "As soon as Sandy screamed, I saw blood in the wave behind her," Kenney said. "I ran out and tried to help pull her in. He just pulled her under — she had to fight to get loose. When she screamed, you could see a trail of blood in the water about five feet wide."
"She was very lucky that it didn't hit the major artery or she probably wouldn't have made it," Dr. Peter Ciejek said. He described the gash on Fletcher's right forearm at nine to twelve inches long.
Six shark attacks have been reported in the past month between Stuart and Daytona Beach along Florida's east coast. Indian River County lifeguard Bruce Little said shark sightings are common at this time of year because "bait fish like mullet are migrating south now and the sharks follow them. It's dangerous to swimmers when the bait fish come too close to shore."
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 24 October 1984
TEXAS, USA, 1984
A teenage girl's legs were mangled by bites from a shark while another girl required seventy stitches to close bite wounds, but city officials decided to keep their popular beaches open. "We're probably taking more precautions than necessary," said city official Joe Rubio.
Carmen Gaytan, 18, attacked in the Gulf of Mexico by what rescuers said was a four-foot shark, was in guarded condition yesterday in the intensive care unit of Valley Community Hospital. She underwent extensive reconstructive surgery on her legs. "It's just wait and see," hospital spokeswoman Suzy Payne said of Gaytan's chances to recover without an amputation.
The second teenage girl was attacked just two and a half hours later in front of another luxury hotel three miles away and required stitches on many leg bites, authorities said.
City and tourism officials met and decided to keep the beaches open following the attacks, described as the first in the area in twenty-three years. The beaches were kept under surveillance by land, sea and air, said Rubio, a South Padre Island building department official who acts as city spokesman in emergencies. He said beaches in this South Padre Island resort at the southern tip of Texas would be evacuated if "any suspicious activity that can be confirmed as sharks" is spotted.
Gary Glick, who owns a deep-sea fishing charterboat in Port Isabel, said shifts in ocean currents moved sharks closer to the shore ...
Gaytan, of Mexico, was swimming in chest-deep water shortly after noon on Tuesday outside the South Padre Hotel when beachgoers heard her screams for help. "Help me please, a fish is killing me," she cried, according to Cidonio Barron Leon, who helped pull her out. He said he saw a shark as he went to her aid.
The second attack, on a thirteen-year-old girl whose identity was not released yesterday, occurred near the Tiki Motel about two and a half hours later, officials said. The girl was treated at the Port Isabel Medical Center and was released, Dr. Ralph Landberg said. "She had lots of teeth marks around her right foot up to her ankle. There were many lacerations," said Landberg, adding that the girl took seventy stitches. "I think she was very lucky."
However, Rubio said there was no evidence the second girl had been attacked by a shark. "We're not sure what happened," he said.
Mid-July is the height of the summer season for the high-rise hotels and condominiums on South Padre Island. No cancellations or early checkouts were reported by clerks at the two hotels where the attacks occurred.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 26 July 1984
VIRGINIA, USA, 1983
A fourteen-year-old girl who had a chunk taken from her foot and leg while swimming in the Atlantic apparently was attacked by a sand shark, authorities said. Jill Redenbaugh was in satisfactory condition on Tuesday at a Virginia Beach hospital after undergoing surgery on Monday.
She was swimming in waist-deep water twenty to thirty feet from the shore when she was attacked, police said.
Jack Kownsend, who helped the girl, said "a two-inch chunk" of her left foot and Achilles tendon was taken out.
Kownsend and Ernest Singleton helped Redenbaugh out of the water. Singleton wrapped her foot and took her to the hospital. "She was a very brave young lady," Singleton said. "She held herself together very well. The emergency room physician thought it might have been a sand shark."
Harris Stewart Jr., director of the Center for Marine Studies at Old Dominion University, said sand sharks grow to six feet long and generally live in shallow water near sandy bottoms. "They terrify you, but the incidence of their giving you trouble are few and far between," Stewart said. "Usually you can scare a sand shark away by going 'Boo.'"
It was only the third shark attack at Virginia Beach recorded in twenty-seven years. In 1973 a shark bit a seventeen-year-old boy crabbing at False Cape. In 1956 a fourteen-year-old girl was attacked by a shark while she was swimming.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 17 August 1983
FLORIDA, USA, 1981
"All I could see was teeth. I was so scared, I just started slapping him," Van Horn Ely, Florida's fifteenth reported shark attack victim of the year, recalled.
Ely, 19, underwent five hours of surgery on his left hand and arm, badly mauled in a shark attack which occurred only about thirty feet from shore in waist-deep water. The attack occurred on Monday, just three days after Robert Kiefling, 17, of Cocoa, was bitten on the left foot while surfing in the water off Cocoa Beach. Two earlier shark victims — Mark Meeker, 26, attacked in Tampa Bay, and Christy Wapniarski, 19, attacked off Ormond Beach (see here) — bled to death.
"I've swum from Maine to the Caribbean and a lot of places in between and never even known anyone who was bothered by sharks," said Ely, who moved to Jupiter Island four days ago from Cape May, New Jersey, to take a job as maintenance man at the Jupiter Island Beach Club.
Ely was attacked when he went for a swim in the Atlantic during his lunch break. He estimated the shark that seized his hand and forearm was six to eight feet in length. "It all happened in just a second or so," Ely said. "He bit down pretty hard. He pulled me, took me forward. I tried to slide my hand out of his mouth. His mouth was out of the water. All I could see was teeth. I was so scared, I just started slapping at him."
Somehow Ely managed to tug his hand free and turn and run through the water toward the shore. "I was most worried that he was going to come back and bite my leg. I didn't have much trouble running back to shore," he said.
As he ran to shore, he shouted to a youth on the beach in a golf cart, who stopped, picked him up and drove him to the Jupiter Island police station. Officers swathed his lacerated hand and arm in a towel and called an ambulance to take him to a hospital, where surgeons completed repair of his hand and arm after 5 am on Tuesday.
The unusually high number of attacks this year has been blamed by some shark experts on the abnormal warmth of Atlantic waters. As a result, they say, schools of smelt fish, such as mullet, have been feeding close to shore and sharks, which prey on the schools, have been attracted closer than usual to Florida's beaches.
The experts say sharks have notoriously bad eyesight and most attacks on humans are cases of mistaken identity. They mistake a hand or foot for a fish, particularly if the swimmer is close to a school of bait fish.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 21 October 1981
PERTH, AUSTRALIA, 1969
A fifteen-year-old Sea Scout who was attacked by a shark in seven feet of water in the Swan River yesterday said today he had used one foot to push the shark away after it had mauled his other leg.
"After I had been bitten I was scared that the shark might strike again," Graham Cartwright of Mettam Street, Trigg, said from his bed in the Royal Perth Hospital today. "He took two chomps and that was it. I felt his rough skin with my hands and one eye as I pushed him away with my good foot.
Excerpted from Shark Attacks by Alex MacCormick. Copyright © 1998 Alex MacCormick. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. Holiday Snaps in the Shallows,
2. Down into the Deep,
3. Ships and Boats and Planes,
4. Swimming out of one's Depth,
5. Surfing the Waves,
6. Stranger than Fiction,
Unprovoked Shark Attacks Reported Worldwide 1990–95,
Chronological List of Attacks Included in this Book,