Wednesday, March 24

20th Century Earliest Documented Shark Attack inspired "Jaws" the movie

Along the coast of New Jersey between July 1 and July 12 was the time when a deadly heatwave was ongoing and the polio epidemic drove people in the northeastern United States to the seaside resorts of the Jersey Shore. Five people were attacked and only one survived. Scholars believed that the increased presence of both sharks and humans in the water lead to the attacks in 1916, although this scientific knowledge about shark was based on speculations and conjectures at best.

There was panic-stricken reactions coming from both local and international communities which led to shark hunts aimed to totally finish off the population of these "man-eating" sharks and to safeguard the rising economies of the state's seaside resorts. Such safeguarding resorted to enclosing public beaches with steel nets to protect swimmers.

The New Jersey Shore attacks branded sharks as dangerous, these animals shown in news articles with caricatures and in editorial cartoons. Sharks were absorbed into American pop culture as icons instilling fear and representing danger. One special mention must be said here because this story inspired Peter Benchley's novel Jaws, which was a worldwide box-office influential scary movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Related Links:
To view the 1916 actual newsprint on the shark attack.
More information about the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916.
More information about Peter Benchley the writer.
More information about Peter Benchley's novel Jaws.
More information about the Steven Spielberg's film Jaws.

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