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accidents of shark attacks on people

people who are attacked by sharks

Tragedies on water...

Each year a lot of people become victims of shark attacks. Pallid statistics say that in most cases such encounters threaten the sufferers with shock from meeting sharp-teethed predators and both with scars and marks left by their teeth, which are going to remind the sufferers of that potential threat the rest of their lives.

And if the encountered enemy is a great shark, then such a one-sided fight may become the last in unfortunate swimmer's life, if he dared to infringe the undersea domain of a mako shark, or a tiger shark, or a great white shark, or a bull shark, as well as other dreadful representatives of the shark species. Their aggression, manifested in direct attack, in most cases just doesn't  leave their opponent any chance for survival, and eyewitnesses' first-hand accounts sometimes are really horrifying.

We'd like to tell you some real stories of people's encounters with sharks and try to analyse these cases, including the reasons of the danger emergence.

In the state of New jersey, USA, there is a small resort town of Beach Haven with a wonderful small beach previously considered to be rather safe. Later no one of the old residents could remember at least one case of a shark attack in the waters of Beach Haven.

23 year-old Charles Van Sant neither anticipated any danger when he decided to take a distant swim on he 1st of July in 1916. Having moved away from the shore for about 300 feet, he enjoyed soft and caressing sea waves and was in no haste to get back to the beach. Charles didn't even suspect that he all the time was followed at tail by a grey shadow, whose sharp fin moving fast straight to him people resting at the beach were desperately trying to warn him of.

The shark attacked poor young man almost at the beach. A beach rescue life-saver, a former Olympian and all-American national swimming team member, who hurried to help the sufferer, managed to pull a poor bleeding boy out of the water having escaped the predators sharp teeth by a finger's breadth. The shark swam away and the young man died from from multiple bites and fatal injuries the same day.

Later fishermen from New Jersey mentioned marine monster they had fished out few years ago. That creature had a woman's leg in a stocking and elegant shoe in its stomach, but that dreadful found had received the usual for those times explanation: sharks have a habit to eat drowned people's bodies. State residents denied categorically the very idea that sharks can attack swimmers alive considering them to be their fair prey.

Nobody could even imagine that poor Charles Van Sant was only the first victim in series of accidents involving sharks that later hit New Jersey. Just five days after Charles' tragic death 26 year old Charles Brooder,  who's canoe was attacked by a shark at sight of hundreds of people resting at the Spring Lake resort, met the same awful fate.

Spring Lake is situated only few miles away from Beach Haven. Today nobody can say whether that shark was the same predator that took young swimmer's life in Beach Haven or it was its another congener that decided to get the same awful experience. The fact remains that when the lifesavers approached the bloody stain near buoys limiting the water zone of the Spring Lake beach, they could pull out only deformed and feetless Charles Brooder's body.

The last words of the victim, who died before he was delivered to the shore, were about huge shark that had bitten his legs off. A doctor, who arrived on call made by unwitting spectators of the tragedy, could only pronounce death of the poor boy and bring back to senses the majority of people resting on the beach and deeply shocked by the tragedy.

Later newspapers cited excerpts from the doctor's report made after his examination of the victim and containing terrible descriptions of wounds inflicted by the shark to a poor young man. Besides the numerous bites of lower extremities, man-eating predator managed to easily bite a human leg through between the knee and the ankle, tear its prey's foot off and also injure both the shin bone and the calf bone. Flesh from the lower part of the victim's body was torn off almost completely, and huge wounds were gaping in the abdominal area.

Five people got hurt only in 12 days in New Jersey. Scientists explained such unprecedented activity of sharks in that area with the unprecedented migration of these sharp-teethed predators, which resulted in apparent overpopulation of coastal waters with the representatives of shark population. Leading scientists and marine bosom researchers Nichols, Murphy and Lucas, referring to the poorly studied natural factors, that influenced aggression increase in local sharks, called that period a "sharks' year".

Hunger was the only acceptable explanation for the fact that people, who previously could peacefully get along with underwater predators, were increasingly often hunted and attacked by sharks, who ran short of their natural underwater food. Constant threat made swimmers and lifesavers watch the surroundings closer and report when any subjects bearing a least vague resemblance with shark fins appear at the water surface.

Next 44 years passed rather quietly for New Jersey: safety precautions taken had had effect and there were no new victims of shark attacks, at least until 1960. That year a young couple decided to spend their pre-wedding vacation at the wonderful and popular resort of Sea-Girt and came to the beach for rest. John Broader, a young accountant, was only 24 years old, and his fiance Jean Philarmo was even younger.

Young people were having fun at sea waiting for the next wave to wash them ashore. Unfortunately, the heaving of the sea was not particularly strong: next surf could only pick up Jean's light figure and John had to stay waiting for another, more powerful water "horse". Having noticed something dark in the water John wasn't disturbed, cause there could be a lot of different garbage floating on waves ...

Suddenly stabbing pain ran up the young man's right leg like from a sudden razor cut. Using his free leg and arm, John repeatedly kept stabbing something hard and rough, cutting his own muscles till they bled. John was somewhat lucky: strong wave lifted him up and washed ashore leaving right on the sand, where he fainted. Having heard his frightened fiance's calling people ran up to John and pulled him out of water.

Good luck never left a poor young man, cause one of his voluntary savers, Norman Porter, appeared to be a former navy sailor. He managed to strap John's lacerated and scattered thigh with a leather waist belt and therethrough to stop blood gushing out of the torn blood vessels of the right leg with that offhand garrot. Johns wounds were horrific:bones were fractured in places, and sometimes just bitten through, only few patches of skin connected his calf with the rest part of the right leg.

In few minutes that it took to deliver the sufferer to the hospital, he lost nearly a gallon of blood, but nevertheless survived, although in few days they still had to amputate his right leg up to the knee. John Broader became one of the "lucky ones" who survived in direct confrontation with a shark. His foregoers Charles Van Sant, Charles Bruder, Lester Stillwell, Stanley Fischer, and Joseph Dunn   died in one-sided fight with a dreadful enemy, having entered a long list of sharks victims all around the world.

Danger is lurking in wait of a man everywhere, regardless of climate and sea, season of a year, day or night and water salinity. If there are sharks, there always be invisible danger, and even fresh water of inland lakes can't guarantee the complete safety of the bathers. Sharks are omnivorous and everpresent, their attacks are dashing and aggressive and and their teeth are dangerous weapon, pointed at the defenceless prey.

Pallid statistics say that death in shark's jaws is not among the the most common causes of death. It is easier to die beneath the car wheels or from a lightning stroke if you didn't manage to shelter in time. However, all the swimmers should have a clear understanding of a threat, especially when taking a trip to the beautiful Australian shores: it is considered, that sharks population density along the Australian seashore is much higher than in other geographic areas, although (according to the same statistic reports) only three cases of shark attacks on people are registered there annually.

In total, only three cases of trauma, caused by shark teeth are registered in the world vs 30 millions of sun and heat strokes requiring medical aid a year. In modern Florida there is only one person in 5 millions of bathers who suffers from shark attack, but it doesn't mean that there is no shark danger at all. Even the mere resemblance of any object to the dorsal fin of a dreadful predator barraging in the sea waves can transport the whole crowd of people resting at any beach of the world to the panic state.

Why do sharks attack people?

The first detailed statistics of shark attacks on people dates back to 1935 as evidenced by an article, written by Milby Burton, the Director of Charleston Museum in South Carolina,  USA.  He was the first to register all the terrifying accidents with sharks, and the incident at Folly Island a township just few miles away from Charleston and its harbour   was the first registered case.

Young woman named Emma Megginson has got terrible leg injuries just nearshore: the time she was attacked water came up only over her waist, and her little brother was swimming just beside her. The first girl's thought, when she felt a slight pinch at her leg, was of her brother's pranks, who probably decided to scare her, but then Emma felt as if a steel razor has cut her leg, and the water around her became bloody red.

Emma hardly managed to get to the shore, where people surrounded her at once. In the hospital the poor thing has got more than 30 seams cast over her wound, which remained a reminder of this awful accident for the rest of her life. This incident with Emma Megginson was the first, but not the last record in Milby Burton's shark register, who has checked carefully the truthfulness and credibility of each case of the violent shark attack on people in the Atlantic ocean waters north from Florida.

Only 5 days part the accident with Emma Megginson from another shark attack on the 15 year old teenager Drayton Hasty, who was bathing nearby national seashore in Morris Island, few miles away from the infamous Folly Island. Right before it happened, fishermen had hooked a baby shark in coastal waters. This baby shark happened to be about 8 feet long. Such take together with the tragedy following made local people redouble security measures. That's why, having noticed something dark with triangular fin in the water, the boy instantly rushed to the shore.

There, being already absolutely sure in his own safety, Drayton sat in the shallow water, six steps away from the edge of the beach and watched calmly the weird object. But the hungry monster managed to grab his leg even in a shallow water and with the next jerk the shark tried to pull Drayton at depth. Nearly fainting, the boy tried to struggle with the predator's strong jaws, pummelling and pounding the shark's head with his fists and a free leg using all his might. Later Drayton's friend, who was nearby, confirmed that the attack was committed by a shark about 8 feet long, but there also were sceptics, who preferred to think that Drayton wounds could be inflicted by crabs, whales, and other "critters".

Drayton get off comparatively cheaply and having received some medical aid got well soon, although predator's jaws, that closed around his knee, were nearly 10 inches wide. Later it turned out, that the boy was absolutely right: 300 feet away from the place, where he had bathed, fishermen pulled out another white shark baby, probably the same that had inflicted wounds to the boy. It was 8 feet long and its jaws width was the same as reported by Drayton Hasty.

A month later Milby Burton received information about a new case of an attack on people, and this attack astounded even his mature imagination. Two old friends decided to have a swim near the Poly Island township, which is 75 miles away from Charleston. Poly Island beaches are famous for their shallow waters: even over a great distance from the shore the depth doesn't exceed 3 feet.

People resting at the beach were the first to notice the danger coming and managed to warn the swimmers in time with loud shouts. Sharp cornered fin was already only 165 feet away from the young men and was coming closer with every minute. The shark was moving in circles around its potential prey as if blocking the men off the shore and choosing its next victim. Young men tried to reach the desired sand edge with all their might, but the toothy predator attacked Leyton at shallow water.

The young man's friend and other people, who came quickly to help, had to literally wrest Leyton off the shark's teeth, who had left its marks on the man's right limb. Leyton got off with torn tendons and multiple scars, but he saved his leg and his life thanks to the up to time support.

Constantly increasing number of accidents with sharks did not change the sceptical approach to the problem as a whole. Up to the World War II the most of people worldwide kept thinking, that the "shark danger" was much more far-fetched and unreal. Sailors and marine pilots were of the same opinion, trying to get at-sea survival skills without taking to account the danger of this marine man-eaters encounter.

Pearl Harbor (after Japanese had attacked the naval base of the United States on December 7, 1941) became the starting point in reconsideration of the nearshore and coastal zone defence approach. And the event, that occurred in the Pacific Ocean early morning on the same day has changed radically the very idea people had of the sharks' behaviour as these most dangerous marine predators.

Aircraft carrier "Yorktown" having on its board the flight personnel from the other aircraft carrier "Lexington", which had sunken three weeks earlier, was hurrying to the shipyard for the overhaul, but was torpedoed by Japanese submarine near the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The tragedy had occurred in waters full of sharks. Only 120 people of the 1900 man crew and multimen flight personnel had survived.

This disaster killed nearly as many people as the overthrow at Pearl Harbor, and no one could say for sure, how many sailors had died from shark teeth. According to eyewitnesses' testimonies the water was still bloody red even several hours after the ship had sunken. Sailors, who had survived on inflatable rafts and boats, had to fend off predators besotted with human blood by oars, pushing particularly impudent beasts from the sides of the boats.

The water was almost seething, frothed with the fins of numerous sharks.  Having not found its toothsome human prey, predators were eating their congeners attacking the smaller and weakened animals. The number of sharks at the disaster scene was uncountable and the consequences of their "feast" were truly horrifying.

The similar accident once happened to the British troop ship "Laconia" torpedoed by the Germans off the coast of West Africa. Rescue equipment on "Laconia" could hold all the people from its board, but their embarkation was complicated by the great lurch of the ship. People had to jump right into the water and swim to the life-rafts. After the boilers had burst, the ship stayed afloat for extra 1.5 hours but hundreds of people wearing life-saving vests were dying from the bites of the sharks attracted there by the outburst, and never reached "refuges" (meaning the life-rafts).

1111 survivors from "Laconia" for a long time after the wreck had shivers thinking of those terrible moments, when after the hand reaching out to the boat for help they pulled aboard only parts of bodies, more often without lower limbs. Salvage ships, that came to rescue the wreck victims, have been collecting human corpses mutilated by sharks for two more days.

In the fields of naval battles during World War II sharks collected abundant "harvest."

They have got a good haul after a trooper ship "Nova Scotia", torpedoed in 1942, had sunken off the African coast near the "Delagoa" bay.  Not a bad feast these sharp-toothed predators also had after cruiser "Indianapolis" had sunken in the Philippine gulf torpedoed by the Japanese.  It is hard to say now, who died by the human enemy' hand and who fell a victim to the man-eating sharks drunken with the human blood.

The main enemies of the survivors were not water and depth at all: death often came with the horrible jaws of the longimani (longfinned oceanic sharks) and their tiger congeners, who left terrible scars and mutilations on the bodies of those people survived in that horrifying massacre. Mass deaths of sailors from shark attacks were confirmed by witnesses accounts, military papers and protocols that can still give you shivers, when reading them.

But it is too hard to stay calm and cold-headed at the attack of these marine man-eaters in times of peace, that's why precisely verified facts from the shockproof eyewitnesses are now worth their veracity in gold. A story of Barry Wilson's tragic death can be referred to such a "golden" testimonies. It received a detailed description in protocols of the Hopkins Marine station in Pacific Grove dated to December the 7th, 1952. Those protocols were based on the eyewitnesses' testimonies.

17-year-old Barry Wilson was resting at the beach together with his 19-year-old friend Brady Brookneromna. At the same time John Bassford, a professional diver, was enjoying sunny day and good weather at the edge of a cliff hanging over that beach.  Experienced diver was only 100 feet far from the future victim who decided to take a swim quite away from the shore. It was John, whose testimonies later provided the basis for a documentary about the bloody fight, that took place on the 7th of December, 1952.

Having felt the attack, young Barry gasped from crying: a huge shark bumped its prey with such a force that Barry's body was merely dashed out of the water. The young man tried to fight off the enemy with all his might, he tried to push the predator away and kept ponding its body with his hands, but the man-eater, having smelled first blood, didn't want to let go its desired prey.

The shark clenched its jaws with such a might, that a whole fountain of blood jetted out to the air and then the monster dragged the man to the depth.

According to the protocol, diameter of the blood stain was about 6.5 feet. After Barry had managed to emerse back he tried to stay at the surface raising the shower of bloody red sprays. At that time Barry's friend Brady and Bassford, the diver, were already swimming to help the sufferer. Soon four sportsmen divers from the "Sea Otter" club noticed the problem at sea and joined Barry and Brady. The shark didn't move away from its prey, it circled around idly, watching the actions of the rescuers, who managed to put a big tyre inner tube, they brought from the shore, on Barry. The predator kept apace: it attacked its prey once more, precluding rescuers from coping the inconvenient life raft.

The way back to the breakwater was long and exhausting, each foot of the way was troubling and all that time the shark kept the watch near the rescuers' caravan transporting the inflatable bladder to the safe line. The shark didn't make any sudden moves, didn't attack and didn't tried to rob Barry's limp body. It acted as if it was watching the progress of the rescue operation, sliding smoothly near the frightened group.

Barry did not survive up to the shore. As it is usually said in official reports, he received fatal injuries. On his right leg from the buttocks and down to the knee there was barely any flesh, and his left leg was marked with multiple lacerated wounds, inflicted by the huge shark's jaws. Later researchers determined that this animal belonged to the great white sharks specie and was 13 feet long.

Dry lines of the protocol sentences clearly show the tactics used by a shark during the attack on the poor boy. At first, the predator struck at his lower limbs, paralyzing the victim's ability to move. A huge wound on the boy' right hip was the second one. Having attacked the boy from the front, the shark had swum under him and lifted him above its head holding him with its teeth at the hip.

The third predator's action was to inflict the injury to the victim's left leg, after which Wilson, who recovered consciousness for a while,  began pounding the water surface with his hands. The last fourth group of injuries was inflicted to the victim during its transportation back to the breakwater after Barry was actually dead. At the moment of the first attack the depths was about 33 feet ant the water temperature was nearly 55 °F.

According to the report, the accident happened during the tide when the water turbidity reached its peak. Besides, the recent rain brought a dense suspension of mud and water into the coastal waters. Visibility under water did not exceed 6.5 feet. In such a visibility only a very experienced diver could timely see the danger approaching and provide a corresponding feedback.

Five people were taking a lethal risk this cloudy day: four of them survived in such a terrible situation and one was delivered to the shore breathless. Terse report's lines gave a detailed picture of what had happened, leaving a carefully processed (and therefore priceless) information for history.

So far we have described only cases of the large sharks attacks on people. But to be fair we should say that their little congeners keep apace with their big "brothers". Thus, the "harmless", according to many scientists, tiger shark attacked the pro-diver John Adamee, who was diving in Trinidad Bay, California on the 10th of February in 1955.

Three-feet long "baby" was not the only little shark that attacked man. Black Sea spiny dogfish (a spurdog) once has left its teeth marks on the body of a woman resting on the sunny beach of Evpatoria in Crimea, Ukraine. There are also registered cases of attacks on people on the part of the nurse sharks, wobbegongs (carpet sharks) and other small species of sharks, although the most of these attacks was provoked by the attacked people themselves by trespassing upon sharks' reserved wildlife habitat areas.

American accident with Barry Wilson busted the myth that sharks do not attack their victims, if the water temperature is below 64 °F. The accident at Baker Beach near the San Francisco "Golden Gates" brought confirmation to this fact. On the 7th of May the shark almost bit a hand off the 18 year old Albert Kogler, who was taking a swim 165 feet away   from the shore.

His 18 year old friend Shirley O'Nail managed to overcome her fear in this tight situation and to pull Albert out of the water. Unfortunately, the blood loss was too heavy and the boy died on the shore.  Water temperature in this particular case was only 55.4 °F.

According to scientific researches, the main factor irresistibly "attracting" a predator shark to man is blood. There is a unique situation: when the sea is absolutely calm and "smooth" and no shark is observed in the water area, suddenly there comes an uncountable number of predators if only one or two drops of a fresh and warm blood get into the water.

Sharks can smell blood for many miles. This red liquor affects predators like the hardest human drugs. Sometimes the effect of blood is so powerful that monsters start to eat each other in ecstasy. The attack of the very first shark on man is a signal for the others to attack too. Further actions resemble some kind of a crazy go round. In its turning people and monsters become one.

Hungry sharks don't make a difference between their preys: fish stocks and weakened dolphins, wounded whales and human wreck victims can equally suffer from their teeth. Usually there are few survivors... Not many wreck survivors, who had witnessed such bloody massacres, can tell about the conduct and manners of those dreadful enemies, cause fear paralysing will becomes the main handicap for the man's memory.

Sharks often are consistent and persistent in chasing its prey as if playing cat and mouse with it. Numerous facts from the worldwide history can serve as a proof. Witnesses describe a terrible disaster, which had happened during the World War II right beside the American trooper ship. After an artillery bombardment and torpedo attack two wounded sailors were evacuated from the board of the tanker. A sailor named Charles Richardson was helping them to get over the fencing and float at the surface. Charles had to take on his back one of the wounded sailors and the other was swimming by himself holding to his healthy friend.

The lifeboats were slowly circling in a huge oil spill near the sinking ship. Richardson was swimming hard, trying to get to the boats as fast as possible. The giant shark had swum to them from behind and grabbed the wounded man holding onto Charles's neck.  There was no possible way to make the predator leave its prey knives used by two men and their foins, strokes and blows just whetted its rage and finally the shark threshed the worn-out people.

Richardson still managed to get to the boat, having delivered aboard only one of his wounded companions. His heroic deed was conferred with a government award, but no medal could recompense his grief over his fellow soldier's death, who died not from a enemy's shell, but in teeth of a marine monster...

Using long-term data the researchers, who studied sharks behaviour, could gather the following statistics:

the man is responsible for the shark's attack only in one case out of four. Three other marine predators attacks were not provoked.

In modern world almost 95,5% of victims survive. But many of them get maimed for life.

Coastal areas of Australia, Africa and North America are considered to be the most dangerous waters in the context of shark's aggressive actions towards man.

The most of the shark attacks occur during summer months, although shark's combat activity in the equatorial waters is observed the whole year. The reason for this is that bathing season of this particular duration (3 summer months), when there are a greatest number of swimmers, provokes sharks to attack.

More often sharks attack within the 300-feet beach area. Thus, 62,2% of the victims haven't leave this area.

The greatest number of the victims (70,2%) got wounds from the shark's teeth while bathing at depth of about 5 feet. Part of the victims (24,9%) encountered predators in shallow water, where water barely reached their neck.

Sharks mainly attacked slowly moving or inactive targets: people were swimming calmly (63,3%) or just lying on the water. Part of the attacks (20,8%) happened during sea trips, 19% at diving and underwater hunting, 10,3% next to the fishermen or near the large fish stocks.

Predators most often choose single targets (38,2%), but aren't also scared in those particular cases, when there are other people few feet away from its potential prey (40%). Sometimes hungry sharks can even attack a group of people who are few arm-lengths apart (21,2%).

Sharks prefer to hunt in a daytime (94.3%), only singular predators go pirating at night (5,7%). But those data doesn't at all speak in favour of night swimming safety. At daytime there are much more people in water than at night, thus night percentage tells of a rather serious shark attack danger.

At night all the plankton rises up to the water upper layers and becomes like a honeypot to the plenty of fish big and small. Sharks arise from the bosom of the sea right after them, cause sharks are predators and hunters wanting to refill their fat depots with a minimum efforts.

Weather forecast and minor climate changes don't really matter to sharks: they attack their prey with the same success in a sunny day and when its raining heavily, atmospheric pressure and other physical factors don't affect them.

Beginning from the 30-ies of the previous century sharks have inflicted fatal injuries to 5,000 people all over the world, notably, that the majority of cases, according to official data, have happened near the USA coast

in Florida, California and Hawaii (900 deaths). The confrontation of man and sharks goes with varied success despite all efforts of the local authorities.

The second most dangerous place in the context of shark attacks is Australian coast (350 deaths), after which there go African beaches (300 men died here), yielding only few percent to Australian coast. The statistics of accidents in coastal waters of Asia is not much better (nearly 300) it exceeds the number of recorded attacks of those toothy predators on people, committed  in South American waters (about 100), by as much as 200%. Brazil and Puerto Rico are the leaders in this sad statistics calculated for South America.

There sharks feel the most relaxed.

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