Tuesday 25 October 2011

Close to Shore

In a two week period in July of 1916, four people were attacked by a mysterious creature on the New Jersey Shore, emptying the beaches, devastating the resort economy and even attracting the attention of President Wilson.  Scientists were puzzled as to what had killed four humans on the Jersey Shore, assuming that the predator could not be a shark since sharks didn't eat humans.  However, with the passage of time, more and more people were convinced that it was indeed a juvenile white shark that lurked off the shores of New Jersey.  Although a leisure class had emerged in the United States and the resort industry was relatively new, beaches were evacuated and hotels were forced to close due to a lack of customers after the attacks.  Scientists have theories as to why a shark attacks including changes in temperature, changes in human bathing habits and changes in bathing suit designs.  They also presented theories as to why a shark would have been on the northeastern seaboard, given that  sharks tended to live further south.  Locals reported sightings of a renegade shark swimming up the Hudson River; while sharks could not survive in fresh water for long, they might be able to live for a few hours.  The Jersey shore attacks inspired author Peter Benchley to write his bestseller Jaws which premiered on the big screen in the 1970's.  A more recent shark attack that spawned a movie was the one suffered by Brittany Hamilton which inspired the movie "Soul Surfer".

Photo courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org.

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