Text to Podcast 2

Listen to Podcast 2 here: https://anchor.fm/robert-heyer

Hello and Welcome to the second podcast of Hunting the Real Jaws.

This podcast seeks to solve one of the oldest biological mysteries of the Jersey Shore. The shark attacks of 1916.

I am your host, biologist and environmental journalist, Bob Heyer.

It might be asked, why is this important? Why should we study these events from 100 years ago?

 The answer is elementary: millions of people enter our waters every year, shark populations are rising, and human shark interactions are becoming more inevitable.

As our water quality continues to improve a variety of marine life has responded. Whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals are sighted with increasing frequency.

The State of Massachusetts has had an explosion of marine mammals and Great White Sharks filling the apex predator roll have increased. This has changed the beachgoing dynamic drastically in MA with the last few years with attacks and close calls on the rise.

All these sharks pass New Jersey on their way north and south each year. It is possible it was during one of these passing events that the attacks occurred. Shark tracking apps show Great White activity off our shore, almost, year-round.

We need to study shark-human interactions in our waters, past and present, to look for patterns and trends. This way we can hopefully prevent this type of event from ever happening again.

We need to learn to share the ocean with sharks. They are an important part of the marine ecosystem and deserve preservation. Through knowledge we can use marine resources without killing off shark species.

Of the 50 plus historical New Jersey shark incidents and 30 plus attacks in New York waters, the 1916 attacks were the most dramatic and costly in terms of human life.

It is only right that these attacks are worthy of an in-depth investigation. To this day we can’t answer the two most important questions. Who was responsible for the attacks and why did they happen?

These attacks have always been referred to as the New Jersey attacks. Evidence has been present for many years that show they did not end in New Jersey, but continued in the waters of New York.

 At the time people were in a hurry to put an end to the events with the capture of a few sharks off the shore. To this day there is a huge resistance to talk about shark attacks in our beach communities. I am reminded of the comment to the press from an New Jersey lifeguard that said “If a shark walked up the boardwalk and ordered a hamburger, no one would say they saw him.” This is as true today as it was in 1916. The beach economy is fragile and depends on beaches filled with happy tourists and swimmers with pockets full of money. As we will see, then as now, shark attacks are bad business.

So, we can see that in order to prevent future events, we need to study the past.

Next issue we will start to put together a timeline of events as they unfolded. Including an attack that has not, to my knowledge, been reported before as part of the 1916 attacks.

Hope to see you in upcoming podcasts! Don’t forget to check us out at http://www.njsaf.com

And check out my book Shark Attacks on the Jersey Shore: a History on Arcadia History Press.

Until next time! This is Bob Heyer saying Stay safe on the shore!