The cold water makes your feet go numb, but not enough to ignore the teeth piercing through the clothes and skin and permanently separating your limbs from the body. Some victims of shark attacks describe the experience at first as a puppy trying to climb your legs. However, this peaceful feeling is short-lived, and it quickly turns into a bloodbath.
11 of the most horrifying shark attacks ever recorded will give you nightmares. You will check twice even the swimming pool for suspicious fins.
1. Jersey Shore, 1916
100 years ago, a series of shark attacks painted the Jersey shore red.
Four people died between July 1 and July 12, in what the press initially failed to recognize as a widespread phenomenon.
An unusually hot summer brought thousands of people to the seaside resorts of the Jersey shore. The sun heating the ocean encouraged sharks to venture outside the area they are typically found – the semitropical climate of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
This attack was the one finally able to give sharks the reputation they deserved. Sharks became ruthless killers, and people started hunting them like never before.
2. Black December 1957
An entire month governed by shark attacks might sound as yet another low-budget Hollywood movie that did its marketing well.
However, this happened in real life, and the story is one worth listening. Black December stretched on more than one month, although the bulk of the casualties occurred towards the end of the year. Between December 18, 1957, and April 5, 1958, six people died in shark attacks along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Two conditions led to this “perfect storm.” First, the recent development of resorts in the area attracted more people to swim. Second, an unusually rainy season killed many herbivores in the African plains and washed their carcasses in the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean.
Sharks were the first one to do the math, and we can’t blame them for preferring fresh meat over rotten one.
3. Sharm el-Sheikh, 2010
If you think that shark attacks are a thing of the past, you are in for a big surprise.
A series of attacks on swimmers of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) reminded everyone that one of the most vicious killers acts in stealth mode. Sharks can transform an idyllic touristic destination into a horror set.
“The sea went red, and his foot was gone” are the exact words of a local barman witnessing one of the attacks. Multiple strikes eventually culminated with the death of a German woman in December 2010. That prompted the local authorities to issue a temporary ban on all water related leisure activities.
In an attempt to go back to normal, officials hunted down and killed most of the sharks that made the shores of Sharm el-Sheikh their home. Theories on what caused the abnormal behavior near coastal waters ranged from Israeli conspiracy to someone accidentally dumping sheep carcasses into the water.
4. Seychelles, 2011
The Seychelles might sound like the perfect place to get away from it all.
That was what Ian Redmond and his wife had in mind when they decided to make a dream come true. However, something went completely wrong for the couple during their honeymoon.
A six-foot shark attacked Redmond, ripping off one arm and leg. Although he managed to reach the shore, nothing could save him because of the heavy bleeding. The man died in the arms of his wife, which remained in shock for months to come.
Even more dramatic is that a similar case happened just two weeks before the Redmond died. The tourism chief of the island failed to inform visitors about the danger lurking underwater. You could say he had a deal with the sharks!
5. USS Indianapolis, 1945
Imagine a sinking ship and thousands of people desperately trying to hold each other at the surface of shark-infested waters. If you think this is a scenario reserved for Hollywood horror movies, you should guess again.
The USS Indianapolis sank on July 30, 1945, by torpedoes released from the Japanese submarine I-58. The Portland-class cruiser led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the entire history of the U.S. Navy.
Of 1,196 crew members aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship initially, while the rest remained at the mercy of the elements. Only 317 survived to tell the story.
Although an accurate report is missing, we could say hungry sharks dragged to the depths and consumed many of those who perished. It must have been a blood bath.
National Geographic plans to mount an expedition to search for the wreck in summer 2017.
6. Cape San Juan, 1943
SS Cape San Juan is another example of how a wartime event provided a free meal for the hungry sharks in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean.
Again, a Japanese submarine did the dirty job of sending the ship to the depths of the sea. It happened on November 11, 1943, and historians believe that 695 of the 1,464 crew on board died at the hands (fins) of sharks.
Corporal Louis Ruffin, one of the survivors of the disaster, described how sharks were picking the men one by one. The feast lasted for days until the rescue ships arrived and pulled the remaining sailors out of the water.
The horrors of war and the lack of mercy reigning in the animal kingdom joined hands to create one of the biggest manslaughter ever recorded.
7. SS La Seyne, 1909
Thick fog is a notorious problem for ships, and it makes crowded waters even more dangerous.
More than a century ago, the Singapore Strait was teaming with ships, and two of them collided due to poor visibility. La French Seyne and British Onda were the names involved in one of the most horrific tales of shark attacks on the survivors of a shipwreck.
The La Seyne was caring about 100 people and sank in minutes. While the Odna crew did their best to prevent extended life loss, they could do nothing but to witness how nearby sharks entered into a feeding frenzy.
Reports on how many people died that day are not accurate enough to trust, but no one can deny the fact that this news helped create mass hysteria towards shark attacks.
8. Shirley Ann Durdin, 1985
Although collective shark tragedies are easier to remember, the way in which one person dies following a shark attack can create a similar impact.
Shirley Ann Durdin met a Great White shark while snorkeling in the shallow waters of Peake Bay, Australia. Nothing special until now.
However, the way in which the 33-year-old perished shocked everyone present at the beach that day, as well as the public opinion. The first attack practically cut her body in two, leaving her torso floating for a little while. The shark returned to take the rest before anyone witnessing the attack can have the slightest reaction.
The sad and at the same time creepy side of the story is that the husband and the four children saw the entire scene from just a couple of meters away.
The death of Shirley Ann Durdin put Australia on the shark map once and for all. It’s correct for you to say that the continent is one with the deadliest creatures.
9. Summer of the Shark, 2001
Summer is often a dull period for media, as almost nothing exciting happens.
With everyone seeing to its vacation, maintaining the ratings is often one battle lost from the very beginning. 2001 was a different year, and the 4th of July weekend shark attack on 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast triggered a veritable crusade against the aquatic killers.
It is important to say that 2001 was not an extraordinary year regarding the number of reported shark attacks and total life losses. In fact, 2001 was the exact years that makes you trust statistics. Sharks were taking the usual offerings when the media chose a sensationalist coverage of the topic.
Next thing you know, people were afraid of entering even their bathtubs. This media fixation on sharks lasted until the 9/11 attacks when the public discovered that the biggest threat comes from the air.
76 shark attacks and only five people killed for an entire season is small compared to the other stories on our list.
10. The Worst Year on Record for Shark Attacks
If 2001 was not sensational regarding the sheer number of shark attacks, 2015 is the worse in recorded history.
If we dismiss wartime catastrophes like the ones you read about earlier and account only the unprovoked attacks, 2015 leads with 98 cases worldwide.
Scientists are still scratching their heads about the reason this is happening. However, as the human population is constantly growing and water sports in dangerous areas are becoming more popular, it is just a matter of increased risk.
Add the fact that the shark populations slowly recover due to more effective bans on illegal fishing. We have the ideal scenario for the number of attacks to skyrocket in the future.
11. Rodney Fox, 1963
We think we talked enough about people killed by sharks. We decided to end the list in style, with an actual survivor of a shark attack.
A Great White shark attacked Fox while he was spearfishing in December 1963. Although severely bitten by the chest and arm, Rodney survived and became the instant symbol of the anti-shark movement.
Regarded as a miracle survivor, his body is a testimony to the savagery of shark attacks. When rescuers stepped in, Rodney had some of its organs out of their normal place, and his wounds required more than 450 stitches.
For Fox, this was a life changing event. He went on to be the first to design and invent an underwater observation cage for divers wanting to get closer to the ferocious beasts.
The man is now a reputed filmmaker, conservationist, and guy to call for inside tips on how to survive your next holiday in exotic waters.