"Fox . . . felt a blow on his right side as violent as if he had been struck by a moving car. He found himself in the mouth of a white shark, and the shark was squeezing his midsection with his powerful jaws."

- An account of the attack on Rodney Fox by Richard Ellis & Dr. John McCosker from 'Great White Shark' - 1991

 

 

THIS IS WHERE THINGS GET SCARY . . .

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 sometimes does.

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.......

AMERICAN ATTACKS

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 major arteries.

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 & CALIFORNIA

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 Shark attack.

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 said.

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 after dusk.

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 have happened. "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 unhurt. "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 shortly afterward.

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.....

Boren's board. The body looked about the same when recovered. Yikes.

AUSTRALIAN ATTACKS

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...

SOUTH AFRICAN ATTACKS

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 constant presence.

South Africa ranks second for GW Attacks with 49 recorded attacks and 8 fatalities.... Last fatality 2004...