If you’re going to swim or surf in the ocean, a sizeable amount of risk comes along with it. Reefs, jellyfish, and currents are all dangerous to people who are just looking for a few hours of fun, but there are a few sea monsters that are every bit as dangerous as a person would suspect. Take a look at a quote from a survivor of one of our most well-known and feared predators.
“I was paddling in and wasn’t really paying attention to anything. Then I felt a huge thump and was being pulled into the water. Pain went shooting through my leg…I didn’t know what was happening.”
Of course, this person is talking about sharks. That pain certainly was not because they pulled a hamstring or had a post-lunch swimming cramp. Rather, this is just one of the descriptions of a bona fide shark attack at sea.
Getting attacked by a shark must be one of the most terrifying experiences a human being can endure. That’s why we don’t go into the ocean. It is a verified fact that not a single shark attack has ever happened on our sofa. We get it. The ocean is beautiful. Surfing may be your passion. But one thing we know for sure is great whites are hungry. A lot. And if you were ravenous and someone placed a perfectly cooked steak in front of you, no one should blame you if you break out the A-1 and commence to chomping.
Here are some of the more serious encounters between man and those perfect torpedoes of death known as sharks.
15. Eating for Two
Sheila Barrane was an off-duty lifeguard swimming for exercise off Treasure Shores Beach, on the gulf side of Florida, just south of Tampa. Sheila was 6 months pregnant at the time. She was going on duty soon and had her lifeguard equipment with her: a whistle around her neck and her orange buoy towing behind her. As she swam parallel to the beach, just beyond the breakers, she felt a hard thump against her left side. A shark, which she never saw coming, had sunk its chompers into her left hand and hip. Blood filled the water around her and, unable to signal help, she swam back to shore. The shark, apparently deciding it wasn’t able to finish a such large meal which would have included mom and baby, refused a to-go box and took off for deeper water. The terrified woman got to safety and required a total of more than 100 stitches to close her wounds.
14. Flipper to the Rescue
Todd Endris is incredibly fortunate that dolphins hate sharks. A 24-year-old California surfer, Endris and a friend were resting off the coast on their boards and observed a pod of dolphins playfully swimming nearby. As Todd watched, he suddenly felt a massive jolt from below and was thrown in the air ten or fifteen feet before landing back in the water. He searched for his board and tried to climb on it but a great white shark latched onto him, clamping his torso in its jaws and dragging him under the surface. He shouted for help and struggled, of course, and eventually was freed.
Back on the surface he noticed an amazing sight. His friend later related that the dolphins had intervened and began harassing the shark while it had a hold on him. And even though Todd was badly bleeding. inviting the shark to attack again, the dolphin pod actually placed itself between him and his attacker. His friend helped him escape and the shark retreated. Endris was treated for massive wounds to his back and abdomen, but survived, thanks to the marine mammal patrol. Apparently, the performing pod took some severe offense at their audience being eaten and couldn’t wait for the ushers.
13. Unarmed and Dangerous
You may have heard of this one, but who cares? It’s always nice looking at a picture of this lovely lady. Bethany Hamilton had her left arm bitten clean off while laying on her surfboard in the waters off the Hawaiian coast in October 2003.
Most people think of great whites when they think of shark attacks, but this was performed by a fourteen-foot long tiger shark. Tigers don’t grow as large as great whites but they’re even more aggressive when presented with what they decide is easy prey. So, when one of them witnessed a human arm dangling off a surfboard, it could have easily mistaken the limb for a wounded fish or seal.
No one knows if the shark actually ate the arm and it was not available for comment after the incident. The amazing Hamilton, for her part, was saved by some quick-thinking friends, went through surgery to repair the torn joint, and immediately went back into the water, even winning a surfing championship in 2005. Someday, we hope someone catches that shark, cuts it open and finds the skeletal remains of a human arm inside, the middle finger on the hand extended nicely in defiance of the toothy fish.
12. One Tough Hombre
The greatest revenge is surviving. Rodney Fox, in 1953, was mauled about as badly as a human being could be by an animal and lived to tell the tale. He was a champion spear-fisher, participating in numerous tournaments in the waters surrounding Australia. It was while competing in one event that a Great White (stunning, we know) grabbed him not once, not twice but three separate times while he flailed and poked at its eyes. Unlike many victims, he was not grabbed by an arm or leg but in the middle of his torso and dragged as much as fifteen feet under water.
The fact that he didn’t drown is amazing enough but when the shark let go for good and he was brought ashore, his flesh had been ripped so badly that bare bones were visible and his internal organs were only held in place by his wet suit. He was knitted back together, requiring more stitches than all the baseballs Babe Ruth ever swatted. And he lived. Man 1, sharks 0.
11. Achmat Gave a Leg for His Brother
Would you be willing to give up your life to save your brother’s? Achmat Hassiem nearly did. While he and his brother Tariq were participating in a life guard training exercise in the warm waters off South Africa’s Cape Town, they came face to face with their own mortality. Achmat was waiting for his turn to be “rescued” when he observed his brother being approached by a long shadow in the water. Tariq was acting injured for the exercise and did not see the shark at all.
Achmat acted quickly, thrashing in the water to distract the great white from his brother. He must have been a world-class thrasher because the shark swam past Tariq and made a direct line for Achmat. The shark latched onto his leg, pulled him beneath the water and began shaking him. Eventually, after he hit and kicked the beast repeatedly, the leg detached and probably saved his life. He was eventually rescued by friends on the surface.
Not letting the shark defeat him, Achmat became a competitor in the Paralympic games and has lived a remarkable life. And rumor has it, his brother picks up the dinner check every single time they eat out.
10. Kids are People Too…and They’re Delicious.
The really dangerous thing about kids playing in the ocean is that their diminutive size makes them look like tempting treats to a wide variety of hungry fishes. Earlier this year, an unnamed eleven-year-old boy was attacked by a black tipped reef shark near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Reef sharks are far smaller than the normal sharks which attack humans, but a child is just their size. The shark nabbed the boy’s leg and bit into it like a mastiff on a milk-bone, causing serious, but not life threatening wounds. The boy’s father pulled him from the water and he received medical care quickly. The paramedics on the scene commented that the child was in great spirits and seemed to love the attention, even while shaken by the experience. It’s a good thing because we could certainly see this affecting bath night for the foreseeable future.
9. A Fisher Saved His Catch, but Lost His Arm
Just so Australia and South Africa don’t take all the heat, it’s worth noting that plenty of other locales offer their citizens and visitors up as snacks as well. A 19-year-old fisherman in Mozambique will need someone else to tie his shoes for the rest of his life. In 2015, Albino Ernesto was fishing for shrimp in shallow water when he was knocked down by the rush of an unidentified species of shark.
Like all predators, sharks know when prey are vulnerable and easier to eat and it was trying to make off with Ernesto’s catch, which was trapped in his net. Ernesto tried to wrestle the net from the beast’s jaws which is more than a questionable good idea. The shark flailed and eventually got his jaws around both of Ernesto’s arms and doctors later had to amputate them to save him. Maybe it’s just us, but we’re not sure kabobs and scampi are worth losing limbs over.
8. If You Bite Me Once, Shame on You. If You Bite Me Twice, Shame on This Guy.
Australia must be an Aboriginal word meaning “Feed yourself to the animals.” These folks not only take the risk, but go out of their way to make sure precautions put in place won’t stop their appearance on the “great white menu.” To elaborate, high school student Cooper Allen was attacked off Australia’s Lighthouse Beach. His injuries were not terrible by the standards of this list, but what makes this one so ridiculous is that the young man praises the locality’s attempts to keep ocean-goers safe. The local government was to build a nylon shark barrier in the area since Cooper was bitten, but they put the kibosh on it when people like Cooper decided they’d just ignore it.
We’re pretty used to seeing the headlines in California, Florida, Australia, and South Africa talking about the latest person to donate their body to marine wildlife. But not so much in the Middle East. Shark attacks in Egypt’s waters happen about as often as Nicolas Cage starring in a movie that doesn’t tank it at the box office (hint: not that often).
Just this past June, Omar Abdel Qader had his left leg bitten so badly it required amputation while swimming four miles from shore, just east of Cairo. He was rescued by friends in their rented boat and was taken to get medical care in time to save his life. It happened in deep water which is another rarity when it comes to sharks and humans and the area was closed to recreational activity soon after. As if Egypt needed one more reason for people not to travel there.
6. One Man, One Boat, One Giant Shark
Maybe some shark attacks aren’t as much about wanting to eat their human prey, but are about a shark’s loneliness and desire for a little companion that they can eat when they are hungry. A fisherman in a small boat was out in the waters off New Haven, Australia in 2008 when a shark, which may have been as much as teen feet long, apparently tried to open the boat up so the fisherman could come out and play.
The bronze whaler or copper shark isn’t nearly as famous as its larger cousins. Still, it is known to attack humans from time to time. This one, however, started biting and thrashing at the stern and motor of the boat as if it were angry at the vehicle. The attack lasted a few minutes as the fisherman struck at his attacker with a pole, finally making the fish understand he was not interested in joining him in the drink. His boat was lightly damaged but the man received no injuries.
5. For Some, Shark Attacks are Hilarious
Here’s a quote from the victim: “We’d been joking for a while that we could get bit anytime,” said Taylor’s friend, Nick Hopkins, 27, of Sebastian [Florida], who was surfing with him Tuesday when the attack happened. “My girlfriend would tell us to say hello to the sharks when we left.”
Nice. Why don’t you just leave a chum trail behind you as you paddle your surfboard? Joking about being attacked by a shark is just inviting it, homeboy. Brandon Taylor was not in the surf around West Palm Beach for very long before he saw the silhouette of a shark pass underneath him and then felt a sharp pain in his left forearm. The attack didn’t go on for more than a few seconds, but that was enough to leave the 21-year old’s arm badly bloodied.
“My arm was covered in blood,” Taylor said. “I grabbed a towel when we got to the car and wrapped it around my arm. Good thing it’s a red towel.”
4. Kenny Doubt is Counting His Blessings
It was off the shores of Oregon in 1979 that 26-year-old Kenny Doubt was nearly killed by a great white shark. Kenny, who was resting prior to going out to surf again, was viciously grabbed by a large great white and horrifyingly submerged. There are a three reasons this young man survived to tell the tale, but you should be clear that the shark made every effort to bring Doubt to his death.
First, Kenny was fortunate the monster bit into his surfboard as well as his body. The shark had trouble trying to submerge a device designed to float so it subsequently kept the shark from getting Mr. Doubt underneath the water at the same time. Secondly, after doing its best to shred the man into scrumptious morsels, the great white eventually released him and he was able to paddle back to shore. Third, it turns out the water temperature was cold enough to give Kenny mild hypothermia, which slowed his heart and kept him from bleeding to death. Luck is now named Kenny Doubt.
3. Do Not Touch The Fish, Sir!
One of the best parts about going to some marine parks is that guests get to touch animals they would never otherwise see. Sea stars, turtles, and even sting rays are popular attractions at most of these places and there is usually an educationally component to go along with it. The problem with some people is that they often stick their hands in areas where they shouldn’t, even if there are sharks inside of the tank. One 23-year-old Scottish man did just that in 2009.
At Deep Sea World, an aquarium in Fife, Scotland, there are tanks that house angel sharks for view, not touching. But don’t tell that to this young man whose hand is proof of why theme park employees want to smack guests in the back of the head at times. Thankfully, this young man escaped with some relatively minor scrapes, but there is a high probability that he has had his annual pass revoked.
2. Darn that Global Warming!
Great whites are extremely common in the warm coastal waters off Africa and Australia. Not so much in Russia. In 2004, Vladimir Skutelnik must have been doubly shocked when one latched onto his leg and tore muscles in both his thigh and calf. He was deep sea diving when the predator came after him in about thirty feet of water; another rarity. He was able to dislodge himself and swim to the surface with his leg nearly detached. His life and limb were saved by an outstanding doctor in a nearby town.
Known for its cold weather, Russians were baffled at this oddity. Scientists have claimed that global warming is allowing warmer water to reach farther north and attracting the great sharks. If that’s true, we think a new law where the ice in your soda cup must be dropped into the ocean instead of a sink would be in order.
1. An Age Old Tale
We tend to think of shark attacks as having begun in 1977 when the movie Jaws came out. Well, although Spielberg‘s classic sure brought them to our attention and made great whites a regular player in our nightmares, sharks and people have coexisted for a long time on this planet. We even have reports from hundreds of years ago to prove it. Brook Watson was fourteen in 1749 when he was made a crewman aboard his uncle’s merchant ship in Cuba. He was swimming in the harbor when a shark bit his thigh and then, still hungry, took off his right foot. The boy survived and lived a long life, serving as a British representative in the Americas. As was a custom 200 years ago, his family designed a family crest which was to represent them to others. It had an image of Brook’s severed leg toward the bottom. Good to know folks had a sense of humor back then.