Shark Attacks Along The New Jersey Shorelines

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Shark attacks along the New Jersey shorelines

In the early summer of 1916, a series of shark attacks along the New Jersey shorelines captured the nation’s attention and established a chilling timeline that forever changed perceptions of the ocean.

The first incident occurred on July 1st in Beach Haven, when Charles Vansant, a 25-year-old vacationer, was attacked while swimming near the shore. The news of a shark attacking a human in such proximity to the beach was unprecedented.

Days later, on July 6th, further north in Spring Lake, Charles Bruder fell victim to another shark attack, further intensifying the public’s fear. The attacks continued on July 12th in Matawan Creek when Lester Stillwell, an 11-year-old boy, was fatally bitten while swimming with friends.

These tragic events marked a turning point in how society perceived the ocean and its inhabitants. Prior to 1916, the idea of sharks attacking humans close to shore was largely dismissed. The attacks led to widespread panic, with authorities taking unprecedented measures like employing shark hunters and using nets to protect swimmers.

The 1916 shark attacks served as the inspiration for Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws,” later adapted into the iconic film by Steven Spielberg. This infamous timeline of attacks became a cautionary tale, influencing public attitudes towards sharks and contributing to the enduring fear associated with these predators lurking near shorelines.