When Jaws swooped into theaters in 1975, it made many people all over the country too afraid to go into the open water. In fact, beach attendance dropped that year. The number of shark sightings went up, but no one can say for sure how many of those shark sightings were actually true.
Even to this day, Jaws is still held responsible for reinforcing negative stereotypes about sharks and how they behave, which has made it very difficult for conservation groups to try and persuade people to believe that sharks need to be protected. Peter Benchley, the author of the original novel, said that he would have never written the book if had known the truth about the behavior of sharks in the wild.
Even though Jaws makes a lot of people weary of going into the open water due to fear of shark attacks, the likelihood of someone actually getting attacked by a shark is considerably low. You’re more likely to die from lightning, fireworks, drowning, a car accident, a stroke, or heart disease. Yet, even though we know that shark attacks aren’t too common, unheard of depending on where you live, some of us are just too nervous to venture out into the ocean. And hearing about certain shark attack stories probably won’t help matters much.
If you’re brave enough to take the plunge, then check out this list of 15 shark attack stories that’ll make you never want to get in the water again.
15. Deborah Franzman
50-year-old philosophy and ethics professor, Deborah Franzman, was peacefully swimming along the sea lions in Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, California in August 2003 when the sea lions suddenly disappeared and something large and gray broke the surface of the water. Franzman had been swimming by herself but remained within sight of beachgoers on the pier.
The shark attacked from below, ripping off a large portion of Franzman’s left thigh and biting into the lower part of her right leg. A friend of hers screamed out for help and five lifeguards quickly went in. After they pulled Franzman ashore, they started giving her CPR and attempted to stop the bleeding, but the femoral artery and vein were severed in the attack, leading to her death.
14. Heather Boswell
19-year-old Heather Boswell was taking it easy with eight other shipmates from the Seattle-based research boat, Discoverer, when disaster struck. Boswell had been swimming in the South Pacific Ocean, 300 miles east of Easter Island off the Chilean coast when she heard someone scream, “Shark!”
Boswell began paddling for the Discoverer as fast as she could. The shark, who Boswell thinks was a great white, attacked a seaman swimming nearby before it took notice of Boswell. It grabbed her left leg and dragged her underwater, roughly shaking Boswell back and forth.
When the shark pulled Boswell to the surface near the boat, two crew members grabbed hold of her while a third attacked the shark with a stick. Boswell felt something pop in her left leg, and when the crew members managed to pull her onto the boat, she saw that she lost her leg from the middle of the thigh down.
13. Patrick Briney
57-year-old Patrick A. Briney was a kayak fisherman from Stevenson, Washington who just wanted to take his skills to Maui. He was off the coast of the island fishing with a friend when he was attacked.
Briney was dangling his foot over the side of the boat when a shark bit it off. He started screaming, which drew the attention of his friend. Briney was bleeding profusely from his right leg which was “all bone with the foot off.” Briney’s friend tied a tourniquet around his leg to stop the bleeding and called for help from a charter boat close by.
12. David Lilienfeld
It was April 2012 and 20-year-old bodyboarder David Lilienfeld was out with his brother and his friends doing what he loved most, surfing in the ocean. They were at a surf spot in Kogel Bay, a resort in Cape Town, South Africa.
While the guys were having fun, a huge great white shark appeared from beneath them and targeted Lilienfield. It shook Lilienfield around for a little bit before it let him go. The shark then pulled Lilienfield underwater and a pool of his blood started forming in the water. His brother tried to help him but he couldn’t with the shark still hanging onto his brother. The shark disappeared beneath the waves with its prey.
11. Sergei Zaloukaev
28-year-old computer consultant Sergei Zaloukaev and his girlfriend, 23-year-old graduate student, Natalia Slobodskaya, had decided to spend their Labor Day in 2001 wading in the water off the shores of Avon, North Carolina. During their peaceful moments together, Slobodskaya felt something brush against her legs.
Zaloukaev told his girlfriend that a shark was near them and instructed her to swim towards the shore. The couple swam as quick as they could but weren’t fast enough. Slobodskaya said she couldn’t remember how many times the shark bit her. She lost her left foot, a fingertip on her left hand, and was severely bitten on her left hip and thigh in the ordeal, but survived. Her boyfriend wasn’t so fortunate.
10. Barry Wilson
The first recorded shark attack victim in California was Barry Wilson. He was a 17-year-old tuba player who was swimming in the Pacific Ocean near Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove, California where the incident occurred in December 1952.
Wilson was approximately 40 feet from shore when witnesses saw him suddenly jerk from side to side. When he started screaming, that’s when everyone knew something was very wrong. The shark assaulted Wilson from the front, dragging him underwater. When the young man resurfaced, he was screaming and flailing around in a pool of blood.
A friend of Wilson’s and four members of a skin diving club managed to fetch Wilson and bring him ashore. But by then, Wilson had died from massive blood loss from injuries afflicted to his left leg, right thigh, back, and buttocks.
9. Randall Fry
50-year-old diver Randall Fry and his diving partner, Cliff Zimmerman, were near Kibesillah Rock on the coast of Mendocino, California. The pair were prying abalone off the rocks when Zimmerman heard a whooshing noise.
He felt something brush past him and he saw a dorsal fin. Then, he came to the realization that it belonged to a shark. Without warning, the shark attacked Fry, and the water was full of his blood in an instant. Zimmerman screamed but there was nothing he could do. The attack was over in a heartbeat.
No one had ever sighted nor reported a shark in that area before, according to the Coast Guard. Eerily enough, Zimmerman said that Fry would talk about how he thought that a shark would get him some time.
8. Robert Pamperin
During June 1959, 33-year-old Robert Pamperin and 30-year-old Gerald Lehrer, abalone diving buddies, traveled to La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California with their girlfriends. While the women stayed on the beach, Pamperin and Lehrer went into the water to collect abalone.
The pair drifted apart after a while and Pamperin swam down near the sea floor. When he saw a large shadow swim by near the surface, he glided up to the surface for air. He heard Pamperin screaming and then he saw his partner straight-up and unnaturally high in the water, his mask missing. Lehrer swam closer but then Pamperin disappeared beneath the waves. When Lehrer dived beneath the surface, he saw his friend in the jaws of a great white shark that dragged him downwards to the seabed.
7. Doreen Collyer
This 60-year-old advanced open water diver and nursing lecturer at Edith Cowan University was the second person to die from a fatal shark attack in Western Australia in less than a week, in June of 2016.
Collyer was a kilometer off the coast of Mandarie diving for crayfish with a partner when she was attacked by a great white shark. Witnesses described the incident as a “frantic thrashing.” Three men who were out on a fishing trip came to the rescue and helped Collyer’s partner move her body from the water and to a nearby boat ramp, but Collyer succumbed to her injuries.
6. David Peltier
In September 2001, 10-year-old David Peltier and some friends of his were playing in the water 50 yards off the shores of Virginia Beach. A shark swam towards the group and seized Peltier’s leg between his jaws and clamped down.
His father, who was surfing nearby, quickly rushed over when he heard his son screaming and he began beating on the shark to let his son go. Eventually, the boy’s dad was able to free him and bring him ashore, where he found him bleeding profusely from his leg. He tried his best to keep his son calm, telling him repeatedly that everything was going to be okay. Peltier died from his injuries in the hospital early the next morning.
5. Jamie Daigle
14-year-old Jamie Daigle and her friend, Felicia Venable (also 14), were 200 yards offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, in front of a campground near the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida when they were attacked by a shark in June 2005.
Both girls were on their boogie boards when they saw a shadow in the water and quickly began heading towards shore, but Daigle was bitten by the shark who was trying to pull her beneath the surface. Surfer Tim Dicus was surfing nearby when he heard the girls screaming. He dove into help, finding Daigle unconscious in a pool of blood.
4. Jana Lutteropp
In August 2013, 20-year-old carnival troupe member, Jana Lutteropp, from Germany, was enjoying herself on a three-week vacation in Maui, Hawaii. During the trip, she decided to go snorkeling at Palauea Beach in Makena.
She was 100 yards from the shore when a shark attacked her and ripped off her right arm. High school gym teacher, Jim Moore, heard Lutteropp scream and he leaped into the water to rescue her. After he brought her ashore, he and a friend used a kayak as a stretcher and wheeled Lutteropp to the street where Moore performed CPR.
Police arrived with a tourniquet while Lutteropp drifted in and out of consciousness. She was taken to the hospital in a very critical condition and was on life support until she succumbed to her injuries a week later and died.
3. Thadeus Kubinski
Just like any day, in August 2000, 69-year-old Thadeus Kubinski went for his daily swim. He jumped into the shallow waters off the dock behind his home in Boca Ciega Bay, Florida. Kubinski was only ten feet from the dock when his wife, Anne, saw him struggling with something. And then she saw a dorsal fin. She said it was just like a scene from Jaws.
She ran for help screaming, but when emergency workers were called to the scene, Thadeus Kubinski was already dead. He suffered severe chest wounds and injuries stretching from his thighs all the way to his shoulders.
The beach remained open and authorities were quick to tell vacationers for the Labor Day weekend that Kubinski’s death was an isolated incident and it was the first fatal shark attack in the area in almost 20 years.
2. James Robinson
In December of 1994, 42-year-old veteran diver, James Robinson, was searching for sea urchins 70 miles from Ventura, west of the Channel Islands. He had just completed a routine dive and was putting his equipment away on his boat along with two other crew members.
His fellow crew mates heard Robinson scream and when they turned around, they found Robinson floating unconscious in a pool of blood. No one saw the shark or witnessed the attack. His right leg was nearly detached from his body and the left leg was covered in puncture wounds.
1. Rodney Fox
Rodney Fox was the victim of one of the worst shark attacks ever. In December of 1953, Fox was participating in a spearfishing competition to defend his title as an Australian spearfishing champion when he was set upon by a great white shark.
Fox was seized by his torso and pulled underwater, where he suffered one of the most gruesome non-fatal shark attacks ever. His ribs on the left side were broken, his diaphragm punctured, his shoulder blade pierced, a lung was ripped, his spleen was uncovered, and he had to keep his wetsuit on when he was rescued by a passing boat to keep his inner organs inside. Fox needed 90 stitches in just his left hand, 360 for all of his injuries.
But after four hours of surgery, he miraculously survived. As if that wasn’t already shocking enough, he’s now one of the world’s leading shark advocates.