. . .
March 4, 1985 was when
Shirley Ann Durdin, a 33-year-old with four children, lost her life to
a GW in Peake Bay, Australia. She had been snorkeling in water about 7
feet deep - equivalent to the deep end of a residential swimming pool
- when she was fatally attacked by a GW estimated by witnesses to be
20 feet long. The first hit was a gory strike, the fish biting her in
half. By the time Mrs. Durdin's would-be rescuers could get to the
site of the attack, all that could be seen was the victim's headless
torso. After a moment, the GW returned and took it as well. It was the
first fatal GW attack in South Australian waters in over 10 years and
the first time ever that an Australian victim was known to be eaten.
To be eaten - think about
it for more than a moment and you're likely to push the thought from
your rational mind and back into the depths of your subconscious, a
dark pit that contains all of the other fears of death that are too
awful to comprehend - the fear of falling, the fear of burning, the
fear of being buried alive . . .
Unfortunately, it is this
pit where most first thoughts and impressions of the GW reside. It is
only with a bit of academic smoke and mirrors that scientists and
researchers can cover up what remains the primary fascination that
humans have with the GW, the fact that it is one of a handful of
animals alive today that can actually eat one of us alive - and
To date the GW has been responsible for 63 deaths, worldwide since 1876! With 232 recorded non fatal attacks worldwide!
See each region below for country stats.......
THE JERSEY MAN-EATER (or the
'Jersey Person-Eater' for those more politically correct than I)
Although 'Jaws' is
completely fictional, its account of what might happen if a big GW
decided to camp offshore of a beach resort community faintly echoes the occurrences
of a 12-day period in New Jersey during July of 1916. During this short
span, five men were attacked by sharks with four of them being fatal.
The first, a young man named Charles Vansant, was about 50 feet from
shore when he was bitten on his left thigh. He died of massive blood
loss less than two hours later.
Five days later, about 45
miles north of the first attack, Charles Bruder was hit by a shark that
took both his feet. Although a lifeboat was launched at the moment he
began to scream, he was about 400 feet from shore - too far to help. He
perished within minutes of his arrival at shore.
Six days passed before the
next incident. In what would be the worst of the Jersey attacks, a
young boy named Lester Stillwell was pulled under while swimming with
friends in Matawan Creek, some 30 miles north of the second attack.
Several men dived into the creek to attempt a rescue only to have one of
them, the ironically-named Stanley Fisher, bitten on his right thigh. A
large amount of flesh was taken in the attack and although Fisher made
it to the operating table, the damage was too great and he, too, fell
victim to a shark.
The final victim was on his
way to shore as word spread of the Stillwater-Fisher attacks but was too
late. He was lucky, receiving only a laceration that managed to miss any
The Jersey attacks are not
noteworthy for being GW attacks. Although it is likely that a GW or a
close relative like the mako shark was responsible for the first two
attacks, no GW has ever demonstrated a propensity towards venturing into
a freshwater (as opposed to seawater) area. The only shark noteworthy of
this behavior is the bull shark and this was the likely suspect of the
final three attacks. However, the media frenzy surrounding the attacks
and the fears that they spread are indicative of the public's continuing
fascination with shark attacks.
THE RED TRIANGLE &
Traveling west to the coast
of California, we find that one particular stretch of coastline has
acquired the ominous sobriquet of 'the Red Triangle'. This triangle
stretches some 100 miles or so from Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco,
to Ano Nuevo Island near Santa Cruz with the corner of the triangle
being the famous Farallon Islands. Since scientists began accurately
tracking shark attacks and the species responsible for them some fifty or
so years ago, the Red Triangle has been the world's leading site of GW
attacks on humans, a somewhat gruesome distinction.
A highly publicized
attack took place near the Red Triangle during the winter of 1981. A
week before Christmas, Lewis Boren and his friends were surfing at
Spanish Bay, just south of Monterey. After lunch, Boren returned to the
water alone where he was attacked while on his 5-foot fiberglass
surfboard. His board was found the next morning with a large piece
missing in the classic shape of a bite mark. The piece was found later
and Boren's body was found floating about a half-mile north of the
attack site with a similar bite mark. It seems he was floating out to
catch the larger waves offshore, his arms outstretched in front of him,
when a large GW attacked, cleanly biting through both him and his board.
From the bite radius on the corpse and the board, the size of the
attacking GW has been estimated at 18-20 feet.
2004 Saw Fort Braggs Highly publicized GW Fatality.
Great white takes diver near Westport
August 15th 2004 California Fort Bragg
Sheriff's Department and marine officials confirmed Tuesday that
abalone diver, Randall "Randy" Fry, whose body was found in the
ocean near Westport Monday, had been the victim of a Great White
After seeing the bite mark left on Fry's body, Sheriff's Lt. Don
Miller said he had received information that only a great white
could inflict that type of damage. According to Miller, the bite
mark spanned from one shoulder to another on the victim. In 30 years
with the department, he had never seen anything like it, Miller
According to Sheriff's Department reports, the Fry and his friend
Cliff Zimmerman, of Fort Bragg, had been diving in an area just
south of Westport, off Kibesilla Rock in around 15 feet of water
Sunday afternoon. Upon surfacing for air, Zimmerman saw what was
described as "a big fish" swim between him and Fry. Zimmerman
immediately swam to their fishing boat, where another friend was
standing by, however Fry disappeared. The two notified the Coast
Guard after finding no signs of him.
Personnel from the Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue, along
with Westport Fire, the Coast Guard and the Department of Forestry
immediately began searching the area, but called off the search
The following day, Search and Rescue personnel found Fry in about 15
feet of water, but suspecting that sharks might still be in the
area, chose not to enter the water to retrieve his body. A USCG boat
was called to the scene to pull Fry from the water Monday.
A complete autopsy began Tuesday. Sheriff's Lt. Coroner Kurt
Smallcomb said that in their preliminary examination, the bite
measured about 18 inches across, causing the separation of head from
torso. Smallcomb reported that no teeth fragments were apparent in
the preliminary investigation, but the full autopsy is still pending.
A terrifying, tragic encounter
Zimmerman described the event in detail by telephone Monday
afternoon. At the time of the attack, he and Fry were only a couple
feet apart. Saying that they had only stopped for a few seconds on
the surface for air, Zimmerman was not looking at Fry when he sensed
the first signs of something wrong.
"He might have just dove, I was looking down when I heard an
instantaneous whooshing sound, and felt the water move, as if a boat
went by," Zimmerman said. "I turned to see what it was and saw the
side of a big fish."
Zimmerman then saw a fin and part of the shark's body as it came to
the surface of the water at a high rate of speed and disappeared
again. He said that at that point he realized that the worst may
"The way it hit, I was sure it had my friend," he said.
Saying that he could see a diving tube in the water several feet
away, Zimmerman added, "then everything turned red."
Their boat was anchored about 150 feet away, occupied by Red
Bartley, of Modesto. Zimmerman said he could hear Bartley yelling
that he could see blood as well, and was pointing to the area where
the attack occurred. Zimmerman said that he looked around in a state
of panic and began swimming for the boat, fearing that he would also
be attacked at any moment. Fortunately, he made it to the boat
"It's something you never dream would happen," he said, adding that
he and Fry were good friends. Each had been diving around 30 years.
A second boat arrived in the area, and after communicating with the
two, the operator began looking around in the water as well, said
Zimmerman. Emergency personnel were contacted and began to arrive
The West Coast of America, is renowned as the Shark Attack capital of the world for Great Whites. Looking at the stats
you can quickly see why!
The West Coast has had 88 recorded non fatal attacks and 7 fatalities, last fatality 2004.....
The body looked about the same when recovered. Yikes.
In addition to the attack on
Mrs. Durdin, Australia has had its fair share of GW attacks. The most
documented GW attack occurred in 1963 when Rodney Fox was attacked while
competing in a spear fishing contest. He attempted to poke the eye of his
attacker but only managed to stick his hand into the shark's mouth,
slicing his arm open to the bone. The shark let go but attacked again
with Fox grabbing its snout to avoid being bitten again. Weakened by
loss of blood and running out of air, Fox let go and struggled to the
surface. The shark attacked again but only grabbed the fish line
clipped to his belt, pulling Fox down with it. The shark's teeth then
severed the line and Fox finally made it into a waiting boat. Rushed to
the hospital, Fox underwent emergency surgery, an operation that
required 462 stitches to put him back together.
December 16th 2004
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - An Australian teenager was killed Thursday in the country's second fatal shark attack within a week.
The 18-year-old male was being towed on his surfboard by three other teenagers in a small boat off the shores of West Beach, in the southern city of Adelaide.
The teenager fell from the surfboard when two great white sharks – both as long as five metres – attacked about 300 metres from the crowded beach.
Witnesses say one shark tore the victim in half while the other shark took his remains.
Shark tears man in half
Sunday, March 20, 2005 Posted: 7:50 AM EST (1250 GMT)
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Authorities were hunting Sunday for a six-meter (20-foot) shark that tore a man in half as he snorkeled off Australia's west coast, an official said.
Geoffrey Brazier, the skipper of a pleasure cruiser, was snorkeling with two tourists when he was attacked Saturday. He died instantly off the Abrolhos Islands, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the Western Australia state capital, Perth, police said. No one else was injured.
"The 26-year-old man was bitten in half by the six-meter animal and death seemed to be instantaneous," police Inspector George Putland said.
An air and sea search of the area 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the coastal town of Geraldton on Sunday failed to find the shark or human remains.
Government fisheries officer Rory McAuley said authorities wanted to kill the shark, suspected to be either a great white or tiger, to safeguard the public.
Residents of the area said the killer was far larger than sharks usually found there. The attack was the first to occur off the west coast since two sharks killed a 29-year-old surfer south of Perth in July.
The 13 crew and passengers disembarked Sunday at Geraldton where they were questioned by authorities.
The fatality is the first in Australian waters since December, when an 18-year-old surfer was bitten in half by a five-meter (16-foot) great white shark off a beach in the southern city of Adelaide. A week earlier, a shark killed a 38-year-old diver spear fishing on the Great Barrier Reef off northeast Australia.
When man meets
shark, the results are not often pretty.
Fox is hardly the only diver
attacked in Australian waters. Abalone diving is a profitable, if highly
dangerous, activity that often puts the divers in contact with the GW,
sometimes with fatal results.
Australia, While not experiencing as many GW attacks, does hold the most fatalities! 43 recorded attacks and 27 fatalities, last fatality 2005...
The final stop on our world
tour is South Africa where the GW is joined by the bull shark (Carcharhinus
leucas) as an attacker. Both sharks are kept at bay by the
large network of steel nets that protect the beaches of South Africa,
nets that drown hundreds of sharks each year along with countless other
marine life. These nets were put in place after a series of attacks in
the late 50's threatened to end tourism in Durban. These nets have since been removed but still remain in effect at Amanzimtoti. The nets here caught around 60 dolphins, 60 turtles, 200 rays and 600 sharks each year. Most of these animals died before they could be freed.
These attacks have since been attributed mainly to C. leucas but the GW is a
South Africa ranks second for GW Attacks with 49 recorded attacks and 8 fatalities....
Last fatality 2004...