Do you know the real story behind the famous film JAWS? As summer approaches, sharks become the topic of conversation for many people in the US.
Watching JAWS is a tradition, we have a television network that has an entire week called “Shark Week”, where the whole 7 day block of television is devoted to the species. But, did you know that the film JAWS is based on a true story that happened in the early 1900’s in New Jersey?
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Jaws. The 1975 film that put Steven Spielberg on the map and taught a generation of us to watch out for fins every time we went for a swim…
Great movie, right? But did you know that Jaws was based on actual events?
In the infamous summer of 1916, a rogue man-eating great white shark wrought havoc along the Jersey shore, dragging vacationing swimmers under the water and gorging itself on their flesh.
Sea captains along the Atlantic coast had been reporting for weeks that they had seen large sharks gathering along the coast before the attacks, but their warnings were ignored.
For 12 horrifying days, [from July 1st – July 12th, 1916], this marauding shark terrorized holiday makers up and down the coast.
When the panic hit and the beaches were closed, the “Sea Wolf”, as it came to be known, even traveled miles up freshwater Matawan Creek in its relentless hunt for human meat.
By the end of the shark’s rampage, 5 people had been attacked, only 1 of whom survived to tell the tale.
This series of vicious attacks became front page news, and sparked a shark panic all along the Atlantic coast.
Bounties were offered for dead sharks, and motorboats filled with armed glory hunters launched what has been described as “the largest scale animal hunt in history”.
Hundreds of sharks were killed in a matter of days, culminating in Barnum and Bailey lion tamer Michael Schleisser’s capture of a young, 7.5 foot, 325lb great white shark with human remains in its stomach.
Schleisser’s shark was labeled “The Jersey man eater” and was put on display in a Manhattan shop on Broadway.
While some skeptics have questioned whether Schleisser’s shark was really the shark responsible for these attacks, it is worth noting that the Jersey shore didn’t have another fatal attack for the next 24 years.
In fact, there hasn’t been another fatal shark attack in New Jersey since 1926, despite the presence of reality TV star and noted shark temptress Snooki in the Jersey Shore waters every summer for the past decade.
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