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The NJ Shark Attacks Of 1916
July 14, 2011
4:00 am
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SWRanger
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Since its original publication in the #14 issue of Weird NJ, the story of the Matawan Man-Eater has gotten quite a taste of notoriety. The story of this rogue Great White has since been the subject of a History Channel documentary, and is now the focus of two separate books that are currently on the market. WARNING: If you are planning a vacation down the Jersey Shore this summer, do NOT read the following article!

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THE MATAWAN MAN-EATER: THE REAL NEW JERSEY "JAWS" OF 1916
matawan man-eater 1Nearly 60 years before Peter Benchley's novel "Jaws," a real man-eater lurked the waters of the New Jersey coast. It was July 11th, 1916, and in Beach Haven the tourist season was in full swing. The beaches were filled with sunbathers and the ocean with swimmers. Everything seemed like just another hot July day. But this day would be different from any other. A young Penn graduate named Charles E. Vansant, a resident of Beach Haven, died after having been attacked by a shark while out swimming. A lifeguard pulled him in and tried to stop the profuse bleeding, but Charles could not be saved. Scientists of the area wrote this off as a singular freak occurrence. They could not have been more wrong.

Five days later the shark would strike again, 45 miles to the north, near the Essex and Sussex Hotel in Spring Lake. Bellboy Charles Bruder would become the second fatality. He was swimming out beyond friends when he was heard screaming "A shark bit me! Bit my legs off!" These are the last words Charles would ever utter. Mesh barriers went up almost immediately around swimming areas. Still, it was too late to save the rest of the tourist season. What would happen next would elevate the panic to a new level.

Thirty miles farther north, residents of Matawan, a small town 11 miles inland from the open ocean, naturally felt that they were safe from attacks. Swimmers here were confined to the Matawan creek, a narrow tidal creek that wound its way to the bay. A retired fishing boat captain, Thomas Cattrell, was walking home after a successful day of fishing. When he crossed over Matawan's new trolley drawbridge he noticed something that seemed almost impossible: a huge shark was heading up the inland waterway. He couldn't believe his eyes, but confidant that what he saw was very real, Cattrell ran into Matawan to warn everyone.

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We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm

April 13, 2012
9:57 pm
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cormac
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"greeney2" wrote: I once saw a Marx Brothers movie where a scene in a swanky restaunt showed a waiter with a huge silver platter, that held a gigantic Lobster, something like you may serve a table of 10 with. We thought, you never seen lobsters that large anymore, which dated to the erly 30's. You never see many kinds of wildlife anymore and if you do they are not the big old giants before everything was fished out, or killed out. I could imagine the sharks of 1916, could very well been large schools of really very large sharks. Taht may have been commone in the day, but something never seen in this day. No more large schools of Whales, or huge lobsters, Giant Marlin and other sport fish, no longer get that large and old.

indeed biologists and such had for many years dismissed the old-time whaling accounts of '90-foot' sperm whales and such as exaggerations ... the largest sperm whales around these days are 60-foot at best ... but other biologists have come around to the theory that indeed there were and the biggest bull whales were targeted first and foremost by the whaling crews since it was a simple equation of 'more bang for the buck' ... the bigger the sperm whale, in particular, the more of the very valuable 'spermiceti' that was the best lubricant available at the time and was used in other things such as candles, etc. ... so by eliminating these huge bull whales from the herds they were eliminating their contribution to the gene pool and thus, the smaller bulls survived and passed on their traits and one of those was being smaller ...

so you are right on track with your thinking sir 🙂 and those old whalers' stories weren't just fish stories ... and certainly that shark could have been a beast as portrayed in 'jaws' ... an oversized rouge on the hunt ... it's interesting, i just rewatched jaws again for maybe the 70th time the other night ... wow that is still a great movie ... outstanding and always worth a watch ... and actually one of the very few movies i would recommend over the book ... 🙂

take care :)
cormac

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"
-- T.S. Eliot

May 7, 2012
11:09 am
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shadowcass
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JAWS is a great film alright. I wouldn't recommend it OVER the book (which kills off Richard Dreyfuss' character among other things) but I would recommend it right along WITH the book.

On the other hand:

July 16, 2011
5:28 am
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greeney2
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I once saw a Marx Brothers movie where a scene in a swanky restaunt showed a waiter with a huge silver platter, that held a gigantic Lobster, something like you may serve a table of 10 with. We thought, you never seen lobsters that large anymore, which dated to the erly 30's. You never see many kinds of wildlife anymore and if you do they are not the big old giants before everything was fished out, or killed out. I could imagine the sharks of 1916, could very well been large schools of really very large sharks. Taht may have been commone in the day, but something never seen in this day. No more large schools of Whales, or huge lobsters, Giant Marlin and other sport fish, no longer get that large and old.

July 17, 2011
3:54 am
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SWRanger
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John Sr: I drive by the site of the Matawan Creek Shark Attacks usually on a daily basis. The Train Line (NJ COAST) Runs right near where Fisher and Stillwell were attacked....

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One of the reasons people feel why the Shark was so near the NJ Coast was due to the number of bodies from the ships torpedoed by German U-Boats off the shore. Said remains provided a food source for the swarms of sharks in the area and thus one of them decided to go farther inland to seek more tasty treats... Cry

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm

July 17, 2011
12:42 pm
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bionic
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😯

you know I had a vivid dream long ago..it was of a past life dream

I was a young woman..I had long dark hair..dark eyes..tan skin (looked like an N.A., actually, always felt it was in South America, Peru maybe)..it was night time...I had been chosen as a sacrifice to appease 'the God's'..I remember feeling highley honored....I had been given something to drug and relax me...I remember hearing drums and seeing bonfires on a beach...a clebration..I was put in a tiny boat and pushed out to float on a peaceful sea..as I lay there..I could hear the drums and see the lights from the bonfires fading into the distance....all became dark and silent..peaceful...suddenly my little boat was surrounded by sharks..they ripped at it and then at me..my last thought before I died was the realization that there was no honor in my death..there was just death in my death..I died for nothing..I remember feeling really let down

this dream has always stuck with me..it was one of those kinda dreams

Willie Wonka quotes..
What is this Wonka, some kind of funhouse?
Why? Are you having fun?
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams

July 18, 2011
12:16 am
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SWRanger
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"bionic" wrote: 😯

you know I had a vivid dream long ago..it was of a past life dream

I was a young woman..I had long dark hair..dark eyes..tan skin (looked like an N.A., actually, always felt it was in South America, Peru maybe)..it was night time...I had been chosen as a sacrifice to appease 'the God's'..I remember feeling highley honored....I had been given something to drug and relax me...I remember hearing drums and seeing bonfires on a beach...a clebration..I was put in a tiny boat and pushed out to float on a peaceful sea..as I lay there..I could hear the drums and see the lights from the bonfires fading into the distance....all became dark and silent..peaceful...suddenly my little boat was surrounded by sharks..they ripped at it and then at me..my last thought before I died was the realization that there was no honor in my death..there was just death in my death..I died for nothing..I remember feeling really let down

this dream has always stuck with me..it was one of those kinda dreams

Quit eating Pizza late at night !

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm

July 18, 2011
8:46 am
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bionic
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😛
Laugh

Willie Wonka quotes..
What is this Wonka, some kind of funhouse?
Why? Are you having fun?
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams

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