Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 Summary & Study Guide

Michael Capuzzo
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Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 Summary & Study Guide Description

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Close to Shore - The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 provides the chronicle of the attacks by a great white shark off the Jersey shoreline in the summer of 1916. The first victim during that steamy hot July was Charles Vansant. The son of a prestigious Philadelphia physician, Charles was swimming with his retriever off the coast of Beach Haven when a large marine animal pulled him under the water. He struggled with the beast until he was rescued by a team of lifeguards who managed to bring him ashore. But the young man, who was soon to be married, nearly lost one of his legs and was bleeding profusely. His physician father and two other doctors who were on the scene were at a loss—totally helpless to deal with the severity of the young man's wounds. Charles only lived a short time on shore until he expired. Charles' death was the first in the US to to be officially recorded as resulting from a shark attack.

Up the shore from Beach Haven in Spring Lake, Sussex Hotel bell captain Charles Bruder made the mistake of taking a break from his duties and going for a quick swim in the Atlantic. He was attacked presumably by the same shark. Losing both legs in the attack, Bruder also bled to death. The shark continued northward and, fooled by the coastline, entered into the mouth of the Matawan Creek. Sharks cannot survive for an extended period of time in fresh water, but the great white was sustained by the infusion of salt water into the creek during high tides brought on by lunar activity. During the shark's inland rampage, he killed a young teen, Lester Stilwell, and the town's tailor, Stanley Fisher, who was attempting to retrieve Lester's body.

Although it could not be known if one shark was responsible for all the deaths and the many near-misses during those July days of 1916, a great white shark was caught and killed soon after the incidents by a big-game hunter and taxidermist. When he opened up the stomach of the shark, human bones were found inside.

Amazingly, most marine animal experts and experienced fishermen at the time of the attacks initially refused to believe that the attacks and deaths were caused by a shark. Instead, they blamed the attacks on an orca, large sea turtle, swordfish and even a large tuna. Most authorities proclaimed that the shark wasn't capable of such attacks and that it was a "timid" animal. But when the rogue shark was caught with human bones in its stomachs, they all became believers. Following the attacks of 1916 in the north Atlantic, the great white shark became and has remained the ocean's most feared creature.

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