Why the man-eating sharks off Jersey coast? (1916)

Shore men try to explain presence of big man-eaters

What has attracted the man-eating shark to the North Atlantic bathing grounds? This has been a puzzling question. Charles W Beck, a resident of Beach Haven, offers a solution:

“This season,” says Mr Beck, “the fishermen along the upcoast New Jersey resorts have selected Beach Haven off shore to discard the fish offal. Heads and other parts of fish which have been cleaned have been dumped overboard. It offers an inviting meal for sharks. They have been attracted to the spot. Remove the cause and it is most likely the terror of bathers will disappear. It is worth the experiment, anyway.”

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Philadelphians who have been making regular trips to the fishing banks off the New Jersey coast for the last 25 years are not inclined to accept Mr Beck’s explanation. They point out that it always has been the custom of fishermen to clean their catch on their way back to port after a day’s fishing, and that, so far as their knowledge goes, the offal thrown overboard has never attracted man-eating sharks. They are of the opinion that the presence of the selachians off the New Jersey coast is due to some unexplained impulse that has caused them to migrate in a new direction.

Captain James Boyd, of the steamer Angler, who for many years has taken fishing parties out to the fishing banks from Anglesea, said last night that he had not observed any sharks this season other than the ordinary shovel-nose or dog-head species, and that they are not of the man-eating variety.

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Frederick Morris, chief engineer of the steamer Mohican, of the Clyde Line, plying between this port and Norfolk, Va., twice a week, said last night that he had observed the man-eating shark species especially when the weather is warm off Cape Charles. When the weather is extremely warm, Engineer Morris said that they came to the surface, and the fins could be seen clearly. He ascribed the movement of the sharks northward to the continued bombardment now going on at the Government testing ground off Cape Hatteras.