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Sharks, the perfect killing machines. They have been around since the beginning of time. They differ greatly in size, from the massive Carcharadon carcharias ( great white) to the diminutive Squalus acanthias ( spiny dogfish) , but all are capable of delivering a lethal wound to any human. The story of a shark attack is always the same: the remorseless killer and the helpless victim. In truth the shark is usually the victim. About 100,000,000 sharks are caught and killed by fisheries and sport fishermen each year. Some sharks are caught then get their fins cut off and are then thrown back into the water. Their population is growing dangerously low. The unquestionably most feared shark is the carcharadon carcharias ( great white, white death, white, white pointer and blue pointer). Rodney Fox was a victim to an attack by a great white. In August 1963, Fox was competing in a spearfishing championship at Aldinga beach in murky water. To his surprise he found himself in the jaws of a giant great white. The desperate Fox attempted to strike at the shark’s eye with his right hand only for it to slip into the jaws of his assailant. His injuries were a lacerated right hand, exposed ribs and viscera and one punctured lung. It took 462 stitches and a four hour operation to put him back together. In 1964, Henri Bource lost a leg while diving off Lady Julia Percy Island, Victoria. Four years later he lost another leg, fortunately for him it was his prosthetic one. A horrible attack happened in July 1952, to the late Barry Wilson. He was swimming approximately 30 metres ( 100 ft) offshore from Pacific Grove, California when he was thrown from the water by a 3.6 metre ( 12 ft) great white and then dragged under again. Rescuers were able to get Wilson onboard an inner tube, but the shark returned to slaughter it’s prey. Wilson was dead by the time they got him ashore. His injuries were sickening with both legs and one buttock virtually denuded of flesh. Shark attacks are rare and mass attacks even rarer. During World War II the cruiser SS Indianapolis was returning from Tinian Island where it’s crew had just delivered some vital components for the Hiroshima bomb when Japanese submarine I.58 put a torpedo into the ships side. This occurred on 30 July 1945. 1,199 men made it safely off the ship and into the water. They remained there for four days before the were rescued. During that time a large number of the crew received fatal wounds from the sharks. Some were left in bloody waters which probably encouraged further strikes from the sharks. 883 seamen lost their lives in those four days in the worst mass attack in naval history. Carcharhinus longimanus ( oceanic whitetip) and Prionace glauca ( blue shark) are chiefly responsible for the deaths of these navy men. In Peter Benchley’s novel, Jaws, and Steven Spielberg’s film, Jaws, the idea is not possible. Territoriality, and rogue sharks, although, are real. In 1983, three people were left in the water after there boat the New Venture sank off the coast of Queensland, Australia. After a few hours of being in the water a 5 metre ( 16.5 ft) Galeocerdo cuvier ( tiger shark) began to harass the trio. It attacked the Captain Ray Boundy who was able to deter it with a forceful kick. Minutes later it returned and bit off Dennis Murphy’s leg, he courageously told his friends to go on without him. He believed his wounds were fatal. They moved on but saw Murphy’s body thrown from the water and then eaten by the shark. Two hours later the shark struck at Linda Hamilton, biting her upper body before dragging her under. Boundy made it to a nearby reef where he was later rescued by helicopter. The great white is the largest man-eater although it does have an extinct relative called Carcharadon megaladon, also a man-eater. The average length of a great white is about 16 ft but the average length of a Carcharadon megaladon is approximately 52 ft, much larger than a great white. The largest shark living is the Rhincodon typus (whale shark). It can grow to 50 ft in length. On July 2, 1916, at Beach Haven, New Jersey, 24 year-old Charles VanZant was attacked in 1.5 metres ( 5 ft) while returning to shore. He died later from blood loss and shock. Four days later 28 year-old Charles Pruder was swimming far from shore at Spring Lake, 70 km ( 44 miles north of Beach Haven) when he was lost from sight. He died shortly after lifeguards brought him on shore. Bites from his assailant had removed his left lower leg and part of his right abdomen. Six days later in Matawan Creek, a narrow tidal waterway 40 km ( 25 miles) from Spring Lake. A group of men on a bridge saw a large shadow heading upstream. A little while later the shark killed 12 year-old Lester Stilwell who was using the creek to cool off. Charles Fisher dived in to rescue Stilwell only to appear at the surface in distress holding his severed right leg. He died later in a hospital. Downstream another group of bathers had been attacked. While fleeing the creek Joseph Dunn was attacked and sustained serious leg injuries having been pulled from the jaws of his assailant by his friends. Mass shark hysteria followed this event. Several sharks were caught and killed. In the stomach of one of these, a 2.6 metre ( 8.5 ft) great white caught 6 km ( 4 miles) from the mouth of the creek contained 7 kg ( 15 lbs) of human remains including a boy’s shinbone. It has been speculated that the offending shark may have been a Carcharhinus leocas ( bull shark). It is more likely to visit coastal waters and it has a similar tooth form to that of a great white. Attacks : description of locality Close to shore/beach 44% Offshore bar/reef/bank 20% Harbour/bay 9% Open sea 9% Alongside jetty/dock/breakwater 4% Mouth of river/creek 2% Others 4% Most attacks concern a single bather but this is not always the case. On 27 March 1937, Norman Girvan was in a group of three men swimming ashore from a sandbank across a 200 metre ( 650 ft) channel when he was violently attacked. In a desperate move, Girvan raised his arm, with blood shooting everywhere, and said, "It won’t let go, it’s got my leg." Another swimmer, Jack Brinkley, attempted to rescue Girvan, but he was also attacked. Although rescued, he died later from severe wounds to his left side and severed left arm. One day later a 3.5 metre ( 11.5 ft) tiger shark was caught nearby. It’s stomach contained legs and arms identified as Girvan’s. Girvan’s torso later washed ashore. Sharks are everywhere, but they are rare in British waters. The most common shark here is the Cetorhinus maximus more commonly known as the basking shark. It is a very large, yet docile, filter-feeder. It is the second largest living shark that grows to over 11 metres ( 36 ft). The largest man-eater ever caught was a great white weighing over 4536 kg ( 4.5 tons). It was harpooned off the Azores in June 1978. It was 9 metres ( 29.5 ft). The five most dangerous sharks are the great white, the tiger shark, the bull shark, the oceanic whitetip and the blue shark. North America : known man-eaters Tiger shark Great white Bull shark Hammerhead shark Lemon shark Dusky shark Blue shark Oceanic whitetip shark Sandbar shark Blacktip Caribbean reef shark Spinner shark Mako shark Porbeagle shark Thresher shark One mysterious shark attack happened in July 1938, near Bathurst Island. Okada, a Japanese hard hat diver, had suffered an attack of the bends and was slowly being raise to the surface when the line went slack. It was brought up with only Okada’s corselet and helmet attached. It is thought that a large shark tore him out of his equipment. On 19 June 1935, Manuel Chalor had almost landed a large bluefish off the New Jersey coast when, to his surprise, a 5 metre ( 16.5 ft) shark flew past him. He slipped and found his arm in the shark’s jaws. The rest of the crew beat it, but not until it was hit on the head with an old harpoon did it let go. He had no further injuries. On December 1970, in the Inhambane estuary, Mozambique a fisherman was attacked by a Carcharhinus leucas ( bull shark) about 20 km ( 12 miles) from open sea. The shark struck while he was standing in neck deep water. The first attack severed his arm at the shoulder. As he fell below the water the shark ripped off his head in the second attack. He obviously died. Off the coast of Quinby, Virginia in July 1970, sport fisherman shoved a large firecracker into a small sharks mouth and tossed it overboard. The shark swam under the 10 metre ( 33 ft) boat and the firecracker exploded splitting the hull and the vessel sank. Sharks seem very graceful underwater, but if they lived on land a shark could easily be crushed to death by it’s own weight. The way the sharks jaws are arranged it would appear that it could only bite something that is directly underneath it, but at the last instant it jaws go through an amazing transformation. It’s jaws become unhinged and thrust down so the shark’s mouth is open wide enough for it to bite something in front of it or below it. In an attack the shark’s eye may seem particularly vulnerable. It is. It’s prey could easily lash out and strike at the shark’s eye, so when the shark attacks it usually uses it’s protective membrane to cover the vulnerable eye. This membrane is basically an upside-down, white colored eyelid. It is the tougher equivalent of the human eyelid. There are many repellents for sharks that simply do not work. Shark Chaser was developed by the navy. It used copper acetate to mimic a dead shark, supposedly sharks avoid other dead sharks, and to also form a black cloud similar to the kind a squid or octopus uses. Sharks have been observed eating packs of Shark Chaser. Light has been used as a repellent, but it does not work well. A milky substance secreted by the moses sole has been known to repel sharks for up to 18 hours. The most effective and most conventional method is simply to just strike the shark in the gills or eyes. Protect yourself from sharks 1. Avoid deep channels of land or drop-offs. 2. Swim with others, sharks are more likely to attack a lone swimmer. 3. Do no enter the water when bleeding, do not urinate of defecate in the water. 4. Swim in clear water with high visibility only or a shark might mistake you for a seal or it’s normal prey. 5. Look for sharks and the erratic behavior of fishes, it is a sign that a shark is on the prowl. 6. Do not swim when sharks are active : at night, early morning and late evening. 7. Spearfishers should remove their catch from the water immediately. The vibrations of a speared fish are extremely attractive to sharks. 8. If you are swimming or diving and you see a shark move quietly towards the shore or boat. 9. If you are diving carry a stick to fend off sharks that get too close. Do not look for a shark to hit. 10. If you see a shark do not go in the water. 11. If you are attacked fight back. Strike at the sharks gill or eyes with anything available.