Imagine yourself stranded in the sea together with other hundreds of unfortunate souls.
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.
Shark are probably the most notorious killers of nature although the numbers of people killed in attacks is under ten annually. More people die each year by taking an extra step back while attempting a difficult selfie. While sharks attacks are rare, when they do happen, it is not a sight you want to see or be a part.
Most shark attacks occur when unsuspecting swimmers enjoy the warm waters on a holiday far from home. Many decades ago the story was completely different. A shipwreck in shark infested waters meant almost certain death and fit the scenario described earlier.
11 of the most horrifying shark attacks ever recorded will make check twice every swimming pool for any suspicious fins. Forget about kids peeing in the water. We are talking about life and death.
1. Jersey Shore, 1916
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Shark attacks did not take the headlines when people had other things to fear like world wars. However, everything was different 100 years ago, when a series of shark attacks painted the Jersey shore red.
Four people were killed, and many others wounded, 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 – ruthless killers.
2. Black December, 1957
An entire month governed by shark attacks might sound as yet another low-budget Hollywood movie with sharks terrorizing people. However, this happened in real life, and the story is one worth listening.
Black December was stretched on more than one month, although the bulk of the casualties occurred in December. Between December 18, 1957, and April 5, 1958, six people died in shark attacks along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Some conditions led to this “perfect storm,” and it is worth mentioning that the recent development of resorts in the area attracted more people to swim. This was concomitant with the unusually powerful rainy season that 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
via Bracroft Media
If you think that shark attacks are a thing of the past and that the phenomenon has been contained, you are in for a big surprise.
A series of attacks by sharks 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, and is capable of transforming 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, prompting the local authorities to issue a temporary ban on all water related leisure activities.
Sharks were hunted and killed, and the attempt to restore the resort to its normal routine was successful. 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
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The Seychelles might sound like the perfect place to get away from it all.
This was precisely what Ian Redmond and his wife had in mind when they decided to make this dream come true for their honeymoon. However, something went completely wrong.
Redmond was attacked by a six-foot shark, which ripped off one arm and leg. Although Redmond 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.
This one tragedy could have been avoided, as a similar case happened just two weeks before the tragedy. The tourism chief of the island failed to inform visitors about the danger lurking underwater.
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 stories.
Although an accurate report is missing, we could say that many of those killed were dragged to the depths by hungry sharks. 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 due to shark attacks.
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 caused by sharks.
7. SS La Seyne, 1909
Thick fog is a notorious killer for ships in areas with intense navigation.
More than a century ago, the Singapore area was already packed with ships, and two of them collided due to poor visibility. The French liner La Seyne and Onda, a ship from the British India Steam Navigation Company, 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
via Brain Smugler
Although collective shark tragedies are easier remembered, the way in which one person died following a shark attack can create a similar impact.
Durdin was attacked by a Great White shark while snorkeling in shallow waters. Nothing special until now.
However, the way in which the 33-year-old was killed and eaten 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 both 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, fueling the idea that the small continent is one with the deadliest creatures.
9. Summer of the Shark, 2001
via News Week
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
via The Horror Zine
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 and you have the ideal scenario of numbers 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.
Fox was attacked by a Great White shark while 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, we will give you just a glimpse of the state a pissed off shark can leave you in. When he was rescued, 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.