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1916 Shark Attacks

Updated on March 21, 2013

1916 Shark Attacks, What Shark Species Was Responsible

Twelve Days Of Terror, The 1916 Shark Attacks

The Shark Attacks of 1916 were a series of shark attacks from July 1 through July 12 1916. And it is where the inspiration for the movie Jaws came from. It was probably a Bull Shark though and not a Great White Shark that was responsible for the attacks. It could possibly have been several Bull Sharks.

Four people were killed and one was injured badly in the 1916 Shark attacks. The attacks occurred during a really bad heat wave that struck the northeastern USA in July of 1916. Authorities say that the high number of extra people in the water is the reason there were so many shark attacks in the summer of 1916.

And it's a fact that the 1916 shark attacks inspired Peter Benchley's 1974 novel Jaws. If you watched the movie Jaws you probably gave it a thought or two the next time you went to the beach.

Marine Biologists say that most shark attacks are by mistake. They say that quite often when a surfer is attacked by a shark that the shark mistakes the surfer for a sea turtle which is their favorite prey. Though that really doesn't help the poor unfortunate surfer laying there on the beach bleeding from the shark attack.

The 1916 shark attacks caused a panic and many seaside cities with beaches sent shark hunters out to hunt down the man eaters. Even today many piers along the beaches of America's east coast have a strict policy against shark fishing and the main reason for that though most won't admit it is they don't want the tourists knowing there are large hungry sharks there just beyond the surf. They don't want the tourist scared away. But the sharks are there and often they do bite humans.

One interesting thing is that some of the 1916 shark attacks took place on Matawan Creek 16 miles inland. Its also the reason that many Marine Biologists today think it was the ill tempered Bull Shark that was the shark doing the attacking in Matawan Creek in July of 1916. The Bull Shark can and will swim up stream into brackish and sometimes even fresh water.

And today even though several Great White Sharks were caught and killed in 1916 most Marine Biologists agree that it was most likely a Bull Shark or several Bull Sharks that were responsible for the 1916 shark attacks.

But I know that every time I hear that music from Jaws I think of that Great White and how terrifying it would be to be in the water being hunted by a Great White. Every year in the USA however there are several shark attacks and a lot of time it is the Bull Shark doing the attacking.

Eight Foot Bull Shark. This kind of shark is thought to be the type of shark responsible for the 1916 shark attacks.

New depths for shark danger     Bull sharks are one of the most widely distributed sharks in the world. These animals are unique because they can survive in fresh and saltwater. The above Bull Shark recently caught 100 feet off St Petersburg Florida
New depths for shark danger Bull sharks are one of the most widely distributed sharks in the world. These animals are unique because they can survive in fresh and saltwater. The above Bull Shark recently caught 100 feet off St Petersburg Florida

Blood In The Water, 1916 Shark Attacks

USS Indianapolis. The Indianapolis sank and only 342 men survived the horrific shark attacks that occurred on the men in the water.
USS Indianapolis. The Indianapolis sank and only 342 men survived the horrific shark attacks that occurred on the men in the water.

12 Days Of Terror

Did you know that the 1916 Shark Attacks which also came to be known as , 12 Days of Terror was the first documented shark attacks in the United States. While approx 56 percent of all shark attacks in the USA happen to surfers sharks do attack other people from time to time and the ill tempered Bull Shark has been known to hunt humans.

USSĀ  Indianapolis Shark Attacks

The shark attacks on the survivors of the USS Indianapolis was the worst documented shark attack ever. If you watch the below video you will learn all the details of the shark attacks on the survivors of the USS Indianapolis. And it tells you what blood in the water can do to sharks. In case you don't know it drives them into a feeding frenzy.

Worst Shark Attack Ever: Ocean of Fear

Bull Shark Swimming Just Off The Beach In Florida

A bull shark can be seen from shore at Miramar Beach Florida in June 2005, one day after the species attacked a 14-year-old girl.
A bull shark can be seen from shore at Miramar Beach Florida in June 2005, one day after the species attacked a 14-year-old girl.

What Do You Think About The 1916 Shark Attacks. Feel Free To Post Your Comments Now.

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      melissa 4 years ago

      sharks are amazing they are supper intelagent, but this is supper sad im NOT afrad of these sharks and i know a LOT about them that's why! I LOVE SHARKS!

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      sam martin 4 years ago

      holy crap I need to see the movie jaws and that is scary

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      monkey lol 4 years ago

      well i think this is a very good story and that i am a fan of Lauren Tarshis she is a good illustrator and that i never had seen a real shark attack inn this year so i hope that there are people who have been at a shark attack and hope them to be safe and Good oh and i hope i do a great book report about The Shark Attack in 1916 so i hope i do a great Job.

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      nicole 4 years ago

      I got bitten by a shark before I almost died and plus I lost a leg

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      13328695 5 years ago

      Awesome author but sad story

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      maddy 5 years ago

      this is vary crazy that this happened i fell sad that this happened i think the people were vary scard and nervous that there was a shark in the creek.

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      joejoe10298291 5 years ago

      sharks are cool but that 1916 isn't funny

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      elijah23 5 years ago

      im so sorry for the family

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      Seth 5 years ago

      great white not!!! it need salt water but bull head probly

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      jj 5 years ago


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      paula 5 years ago

      i also feel so sorry for the people who had to suffered any kind of sharks

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      momo1369 5 years ago

      these sharks are awesome but they can be scary i just love sharks

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      Chealsea 5 years ago

      I feel so bad those people had to have suffered bull sharks are the second most horrible sharks

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      bridget 5 years ago

      i love sharks so much

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      kiwi 5 years ago

      wow i cant believe this

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      Alexander 5 years ago

      this is cool. i was once in a shark attack the shark bit my arm and now i'm fine but was in a comma

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      carley 5 years ago

      i love learning about this and sharks are cool and i am doing a report about it it is awesome

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      Chris 6 years ago

      Body Temp of the shark has absolutely nothing to do with a species being able to survive in fresh water. Great Whites Can not survive in fresh water, normally. Bull Sharks store salt water in their liver which allows them to survive in fresh water. CK was right about the salt content being higher in the creek at the time of the Matewan attacks because of the full moon, but to say that one shark is responsible for all the attacks is far-fetched. Possible, but highly unlikely.

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      Very interesting... 6 years ago

      I've been reading about the 1916 attacks. I like to know the fine details that may have contributed to what happenned, such as when Lester Stillwell was attacked the townspeople first thought that there really was no shark, but that Lester had only experienced another one of his epileptic seisures. And that Stanley Fisher was actually holding Lester's body under his arm when he was attacked.

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      Christine Kelly 6 years ago

      A well written story,but I have to disagree. I do beleive it was a single 8ft great white. In the Doc,"Blood in the Water" from 2009 on the Distory Channel is the most correct acounts of the attacks.

      Great Whites can enter fresh water for short periods of time. Their body temps stay above that of the water, this allows them to go into all kinds if water, but the attacks stopped after an 8ft young great white was caught with human remain near the mouth of the creek.Furth more a full moon a few days before would have made the creek itself saltier than normal. Ck

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      Victoria 6 years ago

      Ewwww!That is scary.

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      Le Person 6 years ago

      It's just a mystery that no one will ever find the answer to.

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      stormie 6 years ago

      ihave just finished reading the book meet the athuor helped write the book herricane catrina it was amazing to visit the the city where it all happened at yikes look 4 more books about stuff that she wrote especially the one i just mentioned above have a happy thanks givving everyone

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      boby 6 years ago


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      sarah 6 years ago


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      Ola 6 years ago

      We had to look up the shark attack beaaacuse we did not know what it was

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      none ya 6 years ago

      cool SHARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      Kathy 6 years ago

      This is a very interesting report. i too have read the book i survived the shark attack of 1916. I have to do a school project, and it had to do with a diagram. I never watched Jaws, and id like to... but i have watched deep blue sea, and i want to watch soul surfer, and they bothe have something to with shark attacks

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      gabby 6 years ago

      shaarks scare me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      Ishbel 6 years ago

      Very interesting .... I am in a book club of I survive the shark attack of 1916 and we had to research it...this really help! Thanks!

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      steve 6 years ago

      i love sharks

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      makayla 6 years ago

      now sharks really scare me.

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      Sarah 6 years ago

      Love SHARK WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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      emma schatz 6 years ago

      i think that the people that survived were lucky and how do you think a shark got into a creek that was miles away from the ocean and it was a great white shark

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      Ryan 6 years ago

      I am amazed at the great detail you put into this research. I happen to be working on a project about great white sharks, and this has helped me clear things up for the great whites name. thank you very much.

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      Brittni  6 years ago

      I have a book called "I survived the shark attacks of 1916" by Lauren Tarshis. I loved this book and so it got me to thinking about doing research on it and its very interesting.

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      Michael 6 years ago

      I love sharks, they are so cool!

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      jesse 6 years ago

      WOW when i found out about the shark attack of 1916 i was really scared even though i wasn't even born .But my little sister said who cares so i said well a lot of people were killed i was so mad at her.I just wanted to yell at her because i was really sad about all of those people dieing.

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      mitchel 7 years ago

      i need to see the movie jaws

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      Alyssa dunann 7 years ago

      I'm only 9 years old and I love learning about shark attacks and the titanic. When you think about it it is so cool!!!!

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      SophieJ 7 years ago

      Get over it guys, when we're in the water we're not the top predator ! Curiosity or not sharks have the upper hand on the food chain. Time to drop the invincibility and face the natural world. We've always been grub for something !

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      roy 7 years ago

      holy crap sharks scare me even more now

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      Georgiakevin 8 years ago from Central Georgia

      What a fascinating hub. Well written indeed. I lived in Monterrey CA . Their aquarium had an awesome shark display,but did not mention the 1916 shark attack!

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      Chelsi 8 years ago

      I have my own reasons for the shark attack of 1916 and hope to do a report about it for school this year. I believe that one great white was responsible for they found human bones inside its body. I truly do not know which shark is compllitly responsible. A Bull Shark may have been the murder of this horror and may of not of been. A huge tide that had happen not to log before the attack may of taken a Great White Shark along with it dumping it in the fresh water area. All in all I am amazied with your report and taken vualable infromation and for that I thank you.

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      Compu-Smart 8 years ago from London UK

      Since the time I saw jaws at the cinama and was tottaly scared shitless!, i have always been afraid of going to far out to sea when im on a beach even if there arnt any sharks in thses waters!lol