Podcast 5

Hello and Welcome to the sixth 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.

Last show we talked about the first attack in Atlantic City.

On the following day on July 1st, Charles Vansant, age 25, was swimming off of Beach Haven. As he turned to swim back to the shore, beachgoers saw a large fin headed in his direction.

Lifeguards rushed to his aid, but were too late. He was badly bitten on the left leg. As lifeguards brought him to the shore the persistent shark followed until they were close to the beach.

As he exited the water, they saw most of the flesh from his left thigh and lower leg was missing. Sadly, Vansant bled to death.

The Victim, 25-year-old Charles Vansant of Philadelphia was vacationing on Long Beach Island at Beach Haven.

He was staying at the Engleside Hotel with members of his family and had just arrived from Philadelphia shortly before deciding to take a dip in the water. Just before dinner Vansant and a dog dove into the surf for a swim.

He was reported to be a good swimmer and swam straight out into the water with brisk strong strokes. The dog swam back to shore while Vansant tried, unsuccessfully to call him back into the water.

As Vansant started back for the shore, beachgoers noticed a large fin approaching him from the rear. They yelled for him to “watch out”, but he did not hear their calls and was hit by the shark in three and a half feet of water.

A large shark was seen by beachgoers as blood filled the water.

Lifeguard Alexander Ott and Sheridan Taylor went to the victim’s aid. They noted that the shark was tugging on him as they tried to take him from the water. It only broke off its attack when its belly hit the bottom.

A second account has Ott pulling him to shore and reports that the shark followed them all the way.

The shark bit the victim just below the left knee. Vansant’s left thigh was stripped of flesh and his femoral artery was severed. The bleeding was very severe.

Rescuers worked hard to control the bleeding and carried him into the hotel. They laid him on the mangers desk where they continued to administer first aid.  Vansant quickly died from the massive blood loss of the terrible wound. He died at 6:45 PM.

Vansant was a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and was working as a stock broker at the time of his demise. He is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

The shark was reported to be 10-foot-long, torpedo shaped, and black by witnesses on the beach.

Vansant’s father reported it to be 9-foot-long, black, and guessed it weighted about 500 lbs. This description would fit both a juvenile great white shark or mature bull shark. Tiger sharks are also known in these waters, but usually much later in the summer season when the water temperature approach 80 F.

The attack took place at 5 PM and the water temperature was reported to be 68F. Pretty cold compared to the air temperature.

The incident was reported in several local New Jersey Newspapers, but few mentioned the word shark. The severity of the attack drew the press attention that was overlooked by the attack the day before in Atlantic City.

This same week large Bluefish were abundant in Raritan Bay. A 300 lb. Horse Mackerel was caught in Belmar and large sharks were sighted off Port Newark and New York Harbor.

July 4th– A large school of porpoises was seen moving north just off the Belmar fishing pier.

All remained quiet until July 6th when tragedy would strike again.

One thing to note is that sharks were seen up and down the coast at the time of the attack. This may be significant as the attacks seemed to progress over time from south to north giving credit to a single shark hypothesis.

Well that’s it for this show.

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!