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End leaf photo: Winslow Homer's "The Gulf Stream," 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wolfe Fund, 1906 

Title photo: Tom Allen 
Opening sketches: Ronald D. Schwartz 

Shadows in the Sea 




librar y' 

W. H. 0. I 

Q^ a 


Harold W. McCormick 


Tom Allen 


Captain William E. Young 




Shadows in the Sea 





o r- 

I t-q 

§ o 


m — — r^ 



The Sharks, Skates and Ray. 

Copyright © 1963 by 

Chilton Book Company 

First Edition 

All Rights Reserved 

Published in Philadelphia by Chilton Book Company, 

and simultaneously in Ontario, Canada, 

by Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-16260 

ISBN 0-8019-5460-4 

Second Printing, July 1965 
Third Printing, Decejnber 1910 

Designed by William E. Lickfield 

Manufactured in the United States of America by 

Quinn & Boden Company, Inc., Rahway, N. J. 


Captain William E. Young 



Captain Young and I for some years 
have been gathering material from all 
over the world about the Selachians— the Sharks, Skates, Rays, and their 
allies— of which there are more than 600 known species. We originally 
intended merely to up-date Captain Young's book ''Shark!! Shark!!'''' 
(published by Gotham House in 1934, and now a collector's item), but, 
as the material ever expanded, it was decided that an entirely new book, 
covering a much broader field, was needed. 

Adaterial was collected from all over the world for many years. When 
Captain Young and I felt that the research was nearly completed, we 
called upon Tom Allen, an experienced newspaperman, to aid us in trans- 
forming the research material into a book. Tom and I continued the 
research up to (and beyond!) the completion of the manuscript. Tom 
also did further research and added new material in the course of writing 
the book. 

In all scientific classifications, the Selachians are separated clearly 
from the Teleosteans, or Bony Fishes, and there are even leading ichthyol- 
ogists \\ ho do not regard the former as fishes at all but rather as repre- 
senting a separate and distinct Class of animal life. 

Selachians are among the most adaptable and hardy forms of life on 
this planet and have survived longer hereupon than most. Among them 
are probably the most deliberately ferocious forms of life on earth. The 
Selachians are to be found from polar to equatorial seas; from shallow 
to abyssal waters; in salt, brackish, and fresh waters; and all over the 
world. Some have changed little, if at all, during millions of years. No 
one knows just how many kinds exist today, and scientific expeditions 
probing both the ocean depths and tropical jungle rivers continue to find 
new ones almost every year. 

The behavior of sharks toward men is inexplicable and may possibly 
forever be a mystery. The more that they are observed, the less certain 
we seem to be as to just what motivates them. Even those considered 
most dangerous are known to have ignored men who were helpless in 
the water beside them. Other species, long considered to be harmless, 
have been reported to have attacked swimmers and divers without 
provocation. The United States of America and several other Govern- 

viii Foreiuord 

ments besides have spent huge sums to try to develop an effective pro- 
tection for men in shark-infested waters; yet, no foolproof repellent is 
known today. 

Information on shark attacks upon men is now being gathered scien- 
tifically on a world-wide scale for the first time; but, until we know 
much more about the sharks themselves, and until an effective means of 
protection against their attacks has been developed, they will remain a 
constant threat to man whenever and wherever he enters waters in which 
they dwell. Some species of sharks appear to be more prone to attack 
humans than others, but just how many species should be classed as 
dangerous we do not know. The size of the individual fish is no indica- 
tion of its aggressiveness, its viciousness, or its potential. The largest of 
the sharks— the mighty Whale shark and the great Basking shark— eat, 
primarily, plankton and very small fish, have tiny teeth, and are generally 
considered to be harmless. 

The Skates are generally inoffensive creatures and the same may be 
said of the Rays. However, if molested or trodden upon unexpectedly, 
some of the latter may inflict painful and even mortal wounds with their 
"stings." Yet again, the largest of the Rays— the huge Manta or Devil- 
Fish— does not have a sting and is harmless. Both Skates and Rays are of 
world-wide distribution, but the Rays occur in both salt and fresh water, 
and some species of the latter are found thousands of miles from the 
oceans— almost to the headwaters of the Amazon and its tributaries, for 
instance. The Sawfishes, which form another group related to the Sharks, 
are also found in salt, brackish, and fresh water. Some of them in the 
Pacific and the Indian Oceans attain great size and are capable of severing 
a man with one swipe of their rostra— the great, flat, tooth-beset, bony 
structure that projects from their heads. 

Man's age-old fear, hatred, and even worship of the Shark has preju- 
diced and limited the eating of not only its flesh but also that of all 
Selachians. Yet, they are eaten all over the world in all countries that 
border the sea, though usually under some trade name that disguises their 
true identity. Many species are excellent eating and they are almost all 
good food. Selachians are readily marketed in all the major sea and fishing 
ports of the world— New York, London, Barcelona, Marseilles, Hamburg, 
Madras, San Francisco, Melbourne, Tokyo, and so on. Perhaps you, too, 
have enjoyed an excellent fish dinner at some time or another and won- 
dered at its fine flavor. It may well have been the flesh of some Selachian. 

We would have liked to have presented in this book some reassuring 
and dependable prescription for avoiding shark attack. Unfortunately, 
there is none. We base this pessimistic conclusion on reviews of the 
circumstances of attacks around the world, selected samples of which 
are reported in this book. 

Foreword ix 

At one point, we compiled a list of factors and conditions which 
seemingly would encourage a shark attack. It was a long list. We decided 
not to print it because, we realized, the list was based on huwmi thinking 
—and not on whatever goes on in the brain of the shark. 

The shark is unpredictable. If you venture into the shark's domain, 
vou must calculate your own chances that a shark will not single you out. 
Your guess is as good as our advice would have been. 

Our knowledge of the Selachians is really very limited and the authors 
of this book are most interested in gathering all further information 
possible about them, and from all parts of the world— reports of their 
behavior, both usual and unusual; their invasions of fresh waters; ob- 
servations on their breeding habits; their migrations; utilization of them 
by man; methods of capturing them; rituals that concern them; and any 
other aspects of these remarkable animals. All information will be wel- 
come. We are particularly interested in receiving reports of any Sela- 
chians from the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, and the seas and the rivers 
that are tributary to those oceans; also, from the rivers of Africa, Indo- 
nesia, and Central and South America. We will welcome anything that 
our readers may be kind enough to contribute, including sketches and 
photographs. (These should be addressed to Dr. Harold W. McCormick, 
11 Riverside Drive, New York 23, New York.) 

You may not realize the fact, but you may be the one to make the 
definitive observation on some point that has baffled the experts for many 

Harold W. McCormick 





Chapter 1. The Shadows Attack 

Documented attacks by sharks on men, mostly on 
the East Coast of North America 

Chapter 2. More Shadows Attack 

Attacks on people on the West Coast of North 
America and elsewhere 



Chapter 3. Captain Shark-Killer 61 

The personal story of William Young, from youth 
to the capture of his last shark 

Chapter 4. Sharks on a Line 89 

The fishing of sharks for sport; and the official 
records of catches in this field 

Chapter 5. Anti-Shark Warfare 115 

Attempted methods of preventing shark attacks; 
precautions advised; and official warnings 


Chapter 6. Shark Devils— and Gods 137 

Sharks and their allies in mythology, legend, folk- 
lore, and crime 

Chapter 7. Shark-Eating Men 159 

Sharks and their allies as food for man; and a 
world-wide report on Selachian cuisine 

Chapter 8. Shark Treasures 179 

Commercial shark-fishing; and the products, other 
than food, obtained from sharks 

xii Co7itents 


Chapter 9. Whence the Shadows? 205 

The origin of the Selachians and thus of the 
sharks, and how they are today 

Chapter 10. Selachians Extraordinary 241 

Sharks and their relatives; namely, the Batoids 
(Skates and Rays), the Chimaeras, and the "Links" 

Chapter 11. The Sharks— Part One 291 

Descriptions of several species, including the Great 
White Shark and the Whale Shark 

Chapter 12. The Sharks— Part Two 324 

Descriptions of more species, including the Lake 
and River Sharks. With a list of the commoner 
Selachians of North America 

Appendix— Selachian Cookery 365 

Acknowledgments 378 

Bibliography 384 

Index 395 

Part 1 

Shark Against Man 

chapter 1 

The Shadows Attack 

Down the beach he ran, an impatient 
young man drawn to the cool and beck- 
oning sea. He had arrived at the resort in Beach Haven, New Jersey, 
scarcely minutes before. And now— Saturday, July 1, 1916— Charles Van 
Sant was plunging into the surf. 

He was 23 years old, and his life stretched before him as did the sea— 
invitingly, excitingly, seemingly without end. On his own horizon, and 
on the horizon of millions of other young men, there hung a cloud of 
war. On the horizon of the sea around him, there was not a cloud. 

Behind him, on the beach, a holiday crowd was gathering. Soon his 
father and two sisters would be there. He had left them still in their 
shore-front suite, unpacking and settling themselves. They had been too 
slow for him. Time had been too slow for him. He had spent ages on 
the hot, jammed train that carried him across the breadth of New Jersey 
from the Van Sant home in Philadelphia to Long Beach Island, a narrow 
strip of land dotted with resorts like Beach Haven. Finally, the trip had 
ended. Charles rushed into the suite, hastily donned his bathing suit, 
threw on a robe, and rushed to the beach. As he dived in, he might have 
heard someone singing, "By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea . . ." 
The sea was beautiful in Beach Haven that day. 

Charles was a strong swimmer. With powerful strokes he pulled away 
from shore. He swam out about a hundred yards— far enough, he de- 
cided, for a first swim. Leisurely, reluctantly, he turned back toward 
shore, trying to prolong this serene and solitary communion with the 
sea. But he was not alone. 

Directly behind him, knifing toward him straight and sure, was a 
gray shadow beneath a black fin that crested the water. They saw it 
from the beach. Bathers screamed, but the man did not hear their cries. 
Then, suddenly, they stood silent and motionless, frozen by the sight of 
the narrowing gap between Van Sant and the pursuing fin. He was still 
swimming excruciatingly slowly, unaware that he was the hunted in a 
deadly chase. 

He was close to shore when the water churned and red foam billowed 
around him. At that moment Alexander Ott, a former U.S. Olympic team 
swimmer, dived into the sea and began to swim faster than he had ever 


2 Shark Against Man 

swum before. As Ott reached the red blotch on the water, the gray 
shadow turned menacingly, then darted away for blue water, leaving 
Van Sant to the man who had come to save him. 

Ott managed to get Van Sant to shore, and there, on the warm sand. 
Van Sant's life ebbed away. His legs had been horribly ravaged. He died 
that night from shock and loss of blood. 

The gray shadow glided seaward, unseen and unheralded. No alarm 
was spread. No one could remember a shark ever having killed a swimmer 
before. Perhaps it had happened in the South Seas or in Australia. But 
never in New Jersey. And the experts said that there never had been 
an absolutely authenticated case of a shark attacking a swimmer any- 
where in the world. Herman Oelrichs, a wealthy New York banker, had 
offered a $500 prize to anyone who could prove to him that any bather 
actually had been attacked by a shark anywhere north of Cape Hatteras. 
The prize had gone unclaimed for 30 years. 

Only three years before, on August 26, 1913, a fisherman had caught 
a shark off Spring Lake, New Jersey, 45 miles up the coast from Beach 
Haven. When the shark was cut open, a woman's foot wearing a tan shoe 
and a knitted stocking was found in its stomach. But this gruesome dis- 
covery—like similar ones attested to down the years by numerous sailors 
and fishermen— was explained away: though sharks might devour bodies, 
never would a shark attack a live swimmer. 

In Spring Lake on July 6, five days after Charles Van Sant was killed, 
more than 500 people were lounging or strolling on the beach. It was 
after lunch; the tide had ebbed. Relatively few swimmers were in the 
water. Children splashed at the water's edge. A few bathers stood in 
knee-deep water. 

Life was elegant and tranquil at Spring Lake, one of the favorite 
resorts of society. The socially prominent of Philadelphia, New Jersey, 
and New York gathered there. Some lived in fabulous shore homes they 
liked to call cottages. Others stayed at the New Monmouth Hotel or the 
Essex and Sussex Hotel. Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, 
who was married to a daughter of President Wilson, was one of the lead- 
ers of Spring Lake society. New Jersey Governor James F. Fielder and 
former Governor John Franklin Fort spent most of their summers there. 
And hundreds of wealthy New Yorkers had fled to Spring Lake with 
their children that year to escape the infantile paralysis epidemic in New 
York City. Since June 10, 165 persons had died of the disease in the city. 
On July 5 alone, 24 deaths had been reported . . . And there were rumors 
that the epidemic was spreading to New Jersey. So the talk on that July 
6th afternoon in Spring Lake was not about the new Allied oflFensive 
against the Huns or the neutrality policy of Wilson. It was not about 
Wilson's chances of reelection or Charles Evans Hughes' chances of 

The Shadows Attack 3 

defeating him. It was not about sharks, or the death of an obscure young 
man at a rather unfashionable beach resort 45 miles away five days before. 
Infantile paralysis dominated the conversations at Spring Lake just as it 
dominated the headlines in the New York City newspapers . . . 

In the democratic sea, a bellboy was as good as a millionaire. Perhaps 
that was why Charles Bruder loved the sea. Charles was a bellboy at the 
Essex and Sussex Hotel and when he was not working could usually be 
found swimming. He was 28 years old, personable, and well liked by 
hotel guests, who considered him part of Spring Lake. Even people who 
had been coming to Spring Lake for much of their lives could not re- 
member Spring Lake without him, for it was said that he had appeared 
there when he was 8 years old and had been working at various hotels 
every summer since. From the tips he earned he supported himself and 
his only known relative, his mother, who lived in Switzerland. 

Bruder had the afternoon off on July 6th, and ebb tide or not, he was 
going swimming. He walked out through the surf, nodding and smiling 
at hotel guests he recognized. When the water reached his waist, he dived 
in and began to swim. He was soon beyond the life-lines. George White 
and Chris Anderson, the lifeguards on duty, did not call him back as 
they would have summoned most swimmers, for everybody knew that 
Charles Bruder was a strong swimmer. 

A woman's scream shattered the air of Spring Lake. Instinctively, 
White and Anderson turned narrowed eyes seaward. Bruder had disap- 

"He has upset!" the woman screamed. "The man in the red canoe is 

Even as she screamed. White and Anderson were racing toward their 
boat. They knew that it was not the reflection of an over-turned canoe 
they saw, for even now the red blot was spreading, and in the midst of it, 
for one awful moment, Bruder's agonized face appeared, and he flung 
up a bloodied arm. The boat reached him. White leaned from the bow and 
held out an oar to Bruder. Somehow, he grasped it. They pulled him 
toward them. His face was sickeningly white and his eyes were shut. 
"Shark— shark got me— bit my legs off^l" he gasped and, mercifully, 
fainted. White hauled him over the gunwale. His body was not heavy. 

Mrs. George W. Childs, one of the principal envoys of Philadelphia 
society at Spring Lake, was standing on the private balcony outside her 
suite at the Essex and Sussex when she heard the screams from the beach. 
She turned to her maid and asked for her spyglass. 

Below on the shore, she saw White and Anderson beaching their 
boat. She saw them hesitate to lay Bruder on the sand. From the crowd 
a woman darted forward and put down her linen coat, turning her eyes 
away as she did so. Several women fainted. Mrs. Childs, 74 years old and 

4 Shark Agamst Man 

indomitable, did not faint. She went to the phone in her room, called 
the manager, and told him what she had seen. She also asked that her car 
be brought around. Three minutes later she was speeding to Deal Beach, 
some 5 miles north. Her niece took a plunge in the surf there every 
afternoon, and Mrs. Childs wanted to get to Deal Beach before the shark 

Bruder was dead. The doctor called to tend him was treating the 
women who had fainted. At the Essex and Sussex, the telephone operator 
was ringing up every central switchboard from Point Pleasant to Atlantic 
Highlands. Within 12 minutes, swimmers were streaming ashore along 
20 miles of New Jersey beaches. 

But was it a shark? Was it true that man-eaters were prowling the 
shore of New Jersey? Hotel men, resort operators, summer colonists 
wanted to be told that it could not happen. They anxiously awaited the 
verdict of Colonel William Gray Schauffler, an eminent physician and 
Surgeon General of the New Jersey National Guard. He had examined 
Bruder within 15 minutes after he had been taken from the sea. 

"There is not the slightest doubt," Colonel Schauffler reported, "that 
a man-eating shark inflicted the injuries. Bruder's right leg was frightfully 
torn and the bone bitten ofi^ half-way between the knee and ankle. The 
left foot was missing, as well as the lower end of the tibia and fibula. The 
leg bone was denuded of flesh from a point half-way below the knee. 
There was a deep gash above the left knee, which penetrated to the bone. 
On the right side of the abdomen, low down, a piece of flesh as big as 
a man's fist was missing." 

That night, while hotel residents, at Mrs. Childs' suggestion, took up 
a collection for Bruder's mother, motorboats equipped with searchlights 
slipped out to sea in a futile hunt for the shark. Colonel Schauffler called 
a meeting of resort owners and town officials to discuss ways to make 
the beaches safe from sharks. Rifle-toting boatmen were hired to patrol 
the beaches. Fishermen volunteered to fish for the shark with great 
hooks, sturdy lines, and chunks of prime mutton, reportedly the best 
shark bait, donated by cooperative Spring Lake meat markets. "I am cer- 
tain that the bathing beaches will be made safe within two or three days," 
Councilman D. H. Hill announced . . . No shark was caught, shot, or 
even seen. 

The day Bruder was killed, 24 people died in New York City of polio, 
then called infantile paralysis. Bruder's death received far larger coverage 
in the New York papers. Such is the glamour and the terror of the shark! 

Each resort town along the New Jersey coast went its own brave way. 
Atlantic City was more upset by a ban on bathing suits that exposed 
"the nether extremities" than by sharks, although some daring souls made 
an adventure out of the shark scare by contemptuously swimming be- 

The Shadows Attack 5 

yond the end of the piers. At Asbury Park, with a flourish of publicity, 
a motorboat shark patrol was begun and workmen were set to enclosing 
the bathing area with "shark-proof" wire netting. A net was not neces- 
sary, according to a sea captain interviewed as a "shark authority." 
Sharks scared easily, he said. "The best thing to do when a shark comes 
along," he advised, "is to shout as loud as you can and splash the water 
with your hands and feet." 

The Atlantic seemed alive with sharks and tales of sharks. At Spring 
Lake, a lifeguard told of battling a 12-foot shark with an oar some 50 
feet offshore. At Bayonne, New Jersey, 20 boys were swimming off a 
yacht club float when they saw a shark. A policeman heard their cries 
and emptied his revolver at an ominous black fin. The shark, he said, fled 
to the open sea. In shallow water off Eldred's Bar near Rockaway Point 
in Brooklyn, eight men digging for sandworms saw a shark driving a 
school of weakfish toward shore. With eel-tongs, oars, spears and spades, 
they said, they slashed at it and killed it. All along the coast, shark vigi- 
lantes were firing their rifles at anything that looked big and moved in 
the sea. 

Finally, out of this hysterical war on sharks, porpoises, and any other 
shadows in the sea, came the sobering voice of academic authority. Dr. 
John Treadwell Nichols, curator of the Department of Fishes in the 
American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Dr. Robert 
Cushman Murphy of the Brooklyn Museum, declared that there was 
very little danger that a shark would attack anyone. Dr. Frederick A. 
Lucas, director of the Museum of Natural History, added his agreement. 
No shark, he said, could snap off a man's leg "like a carrot." A shark's 
jaws were simply not powerful enough to do the kind of bodily damage 
Dr. Schauffler described. Dr. Lucas insisted. 

The experts had spoken. The shark scare abated somewhat. New 
Jersey bathers believed that they could once more enter the water un- 
afraid. But the shark panic had cost New Jersey resort owners an esti- 
mated $250,000 in lost tourist business. In some areas, bathing had fallen 
off more than 75 per cent. Six weeks of summer still remained, and, 
with plenty of hard work, the resort owners assured each other, the loss 
could be made up. 

"Tiger sharks will hold but little terror for bathers in the waters 
hereabouts within a few days," the Nezv York T'nnes reported from 
Asbury Park on July 10th. "Today the final work was being rushed on 
the net protectors about the Asbury Park beaches, and in Ocean Grove 
the contractors who received the job of erecting steel nets began work. 
At Fourth Avenue, where the grounds had been enclosed by the steel 
nets, a record-breaking crowd of bathers enjoyed the surf." 

The dispatch was not entirely optimistic, for it reported that a fishing 

6 Shark Against Man 

boat had sighted four sharks 8 miles off Asbury Park. Another shark had 
been reported 200 yards off Bridgehampton, Long Island, by Esterbrook 
Carter, nephew of Charles E. Hughes, the Republican candidate for 
President. Carter, along with all other Republicans, was relieved to learn 
that Hughes had spent the day indoors, polishing his speech accepting 
the nomination. 

Officials of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in Washington tried to dispel 
the fear of sharks e?! masse. A single shark, they theorized, was probably 
responsible for both fatal attacks. Because of a scarcity of food fish off 
the New Jersey shore, they said, this renegade shark may have been 
driven far inshore and, maddened by hunger, attacked Van Sant. Then, 
having acquired a taste for human flesh, it continued swimming near 
shore until its appetite was satiated by Bruder. It was a ghastly theory. 
In an apparent attempt to still renewed apprehension, U.S. Commissioner 
of Fisheries Hugh M. Smith hastily pointed out on July 9th that "The 
case is extremely unusual. I don't look for it to happen again. The fact 
that only two out of millions of bathers have been attacked in many 
years is evidence of the rarity of such instances." Again, the very best 
assurance— from an expert. 

On a map, Matawan, New Jersey, appears to be an inland town. It 
is 1 1 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean and 2 miles south of Raritan Bay, 
a body of water that blends into the Lower Bay, gateway to the great 
port of New York. Matawan's only link to salt water is a tenuous one, 
a meandering tidal creek— barely a stream at high tide— that empties 
into Raritan Bay. 

In the summer of 1916, as in countless summers before, Matawan 
boys spent every minute they could in Matawan Creek. The most 
popular swimming hole was at the old Propeller Wyckoff Dock, named 
after the tug-sized steamer Wyckoff which, years before, used to come 
up the creek with the tide to pick up farmers' produce and carry it to 
the New York market on the next tide. The dock had deteriorated into 
a dozen or so pilings that jutted close to one another along the edge of a 
dilapidated pier. Diving and jumping off the pier and the pilings was not 
adventurous enough for the boys who swam at Wyckoff Dock, so they 
usually played tag, hopping from piling to piling in pursuit of one an- 

One day in early July, 1916, Rennie (for Rensselaer) Cartan, aged 14, 
was playing tag on the Wyckoff pilings. To escape an outreaching hand, 
Rennie dived into the creek. As his head and shoulders entered the murky 
water, he felt something like a strip of very coarse sandpaper grate along 
his stomach. He arched his body to the surface and stroked for the pier. 
His stomach was streaked with blood as he clambered up a piling and 

The Shadows Attack 

At this spot in Matawan Creek, in Matawan, New Jersey, Lester Stilwell and Stanley 
Fisher were attacked by a shark. The piHngs in the foreground served as diving 
platforms for Lester and other boys playing in the creek. The dilapidated wharf at 
the right was where the mortally wounded Fisher was brought ashore. 

From a contemporary news photo 

onto the dock. "Don't dive in any more!" he shouted to his companions. 
"There's a shark or something in there!" 

No one paid much attention to Rennie, and, as a matter of fact, he 
ignored his own warning a few minutes later by diving into the creek. 
He was in a hurry to get home. It was much quicker to swim across the 
creek than to walk to the nearest bridge. (More than 40 years later, the 
scars from the sandpaper-like burn still on his stomach, Rensselaer 
Cartan would stand by the creek, and, shaking his head, say to one of the 
authors, "It might have been me. You know, it might have been me.") 

On July 1 1th, in Belford, on Sandy Hook Bay, a few miles east of the 
mouth of Matawan Creek, Herman Tarnow, a fisherman, caught a 9- 
foot shark 120 feet out from the low-water mark. No one paid much 
attention to Herman Tarnow, either. 

In the late morning of July 12th, Captain Thomas Cottrell, a retired 
sailor and part-time local fisherman, was walking along the new trolley 
drawbridge that crossed Matawan Creek about a mile and a half down 
creek from Wyckoff Dock. Eleven days had passed since Charles Van 
Sant had died at Beach Haven, 70 miles as a shark would swim, from 
Matawan. Six days had passed since Charles Bruder had died at Spring 
Lake, 25 miles as a shark would swim, from Matawan. Now, as Captain 
Cottrell walked across the bridge that hot, bright morning, he saw a 

8 Shark Against Man 

dark gray shadow sweeping up the creek with the incoming tide. The 
shadow was moving swiftly. But the captain, a man who trusted his eyes, 
believed what he had seen. He shouted to two workmen on the bridge. 
They saw the shadow, too. They ran to a telephone and called John 
Mulsonn, a barber who was also Matawan's chief of police. Captain 
Cottrell ran the half mile to Matawan center. He tried to stop groups of 
boys who were heading for the creek. He toured Matawan's short and 
busy lower Main Street, shouting his warning to merchants and their 
customers. Everyone laughed at the idea of a shark in a shallow creek, 
only 35 feet across at its widest point. Chief Mulsonn did not even leave 
his barber shop. Captain Cottrell walked back toward the creek. 

One of the shops Captain Cottrell stuck his head into on his futile 
trip up Main Street was Stanley Fisher's new dry-cleaning establishment. 
Stanley, one of Matawan's best-liked young men, had only recently 
started this business, which had shown no promise of making his fortune. 
As a sideline he was also taking orders for men's suits. He had made an 
unusual sale a few days before. A man had come in and bought a suit. 
Instead of paying cash for it, he had bought Stanley a $10,000 life in- 
surance policy. Stanley, a blond-haired, 210-pound giant of a man, was 
taking a ribbing from his friends. He was, after all, only 24 years old; 
in the prime of life, they told him. What would he need with an insurance 

Stanley's father, Watson H. Fisher, had followed the sea most of his 
life and risen to Commodore of the Savannah Line. Now retired and well 
off, he was one of A4atawan's leading citizens. If he had ever wished that 
his son might go to sea, he had kept the wish to himself. Some people in 
Matawan did say, though, that it was a shame a big, strong man like 
Stanley was running a dry-cleaning store instead of sailing the seas as 
his father had before him. 

July 12th was a scorching, muggy day. The heat was nearly un- 
bearable in Anderson's Saw Mill, where Lester Stilwell worked with his 
father, William Stilwell. By 2 o'clock, Lester had finished nailing up his 
last wooden box, a task he was especially good at, and, since he was only 
12 years old, he was given the rest of the day off. He waved good-bye 
to his father, dashed out of the stifling mill, and headed for Wyckoff Dock 
with his pals— Johnson Cartan, Frank Clowes, Albert O'Hara, and Charles 
Van Brunt. Soon they were all splashing around in the creek. Most of 
them, like Lester, were not wearing bathing suits. 

Albert O'Hara, aged 11, was near the dock, about to climb out of 
the water, when Lester yelled: "Watch me float, fellas!" Albert turned 
to look. Lester was so thin he usually had trouble floating. At that instant, 
something hard and slippery slammed Albert's right leg. He looked 
down and saw what looked like the sinuous tail of a huge fish. Charles 

The Shadows Attack 9 

Van Brunt, 13, still in the water, saw it too. It was the biggest, blackest 
fish he had ever seen, and it was streaking for Lester Stilwell. Lester 
screamed. Charles saw the big black fish strike, its body suddenly twisting 
as it hit Lester, and Charles saw that the fish was not all black, for as it 
rolled it exposed a stark white belly and gleaming teeth. And Charles 
knew, to his everlasting horror, that he had seen a shark. In an instant, 
it all but closed its jaws about Lester's slim body and dragged him be- 
neath the reddening waters of Matawan Creek. Lester had neither time 
nor life to scream again. 

Lester's pals and other boys who had been swimming nearby scamp- 
ered out of the water. Some ran into Fischer's bag factory at the creek 
and summoned workmen to Wyckoff^ Dock. Others ran up the steep dirt 
road from the creek and raced to the center of town. Now, where 
Captain Cottrell had walked, there was panic, and screaming, naked 
boys. Boys who had seen the shark were yelling, "Shark! Shark! A shark 
got Lester!" Along the shore by the dock, those who knew only that 
Lester Stilwell had gone under were calling his name: "Lester! Lester!" 
Out of this tumult somehow came the report that Lester, "a boy who 
took fits," had been seized by an attack and was drowning. All that the 
townspeople knew for sure was that a boy was in trouble at the creek, 
and men, women, and children began running there to help him. Among 
them was Stanley Fisher, who had ducked into the back of his dry-cleaning 
shop only long enough to put on a bathing suit. 

"Remember what Captain Cottrell said," Mary Anderson, a Matawan 
teacher, shouted at Fisher as he ran. "It may have been a shark!" 

Fisher stopped for a moment. "A shark? Here?" he asked. He looked 
immense as he stood there, towering above Mary Anderson. "I don't 
care," he said, as if finally answering some inner doubt. "I'm going after 
that boy." 

Then, turning to his errand boy, 8-year-old Johnny Smith, who was 
standing nearby, Fisher said, "Take care of the store until I get back." 
And Fisher sprinted to the creek. 

The son of Commodore Fisher took command at Matawan Creek. His 
quarterdeck was Wyckoff Dock, and his enemy was a shark. Some 200 
townspeople, including Lester Stilwell's mother and father, lined the 
dock and nearer bank. Fisher soon had men in boats, poling for Lester's 
body. Someone brought a roll of chicken wire to the dock. Fisher or- 
dered a couple of young men to get into a rowboat and string the chicken 
wire, weighed down with stones, along the bottom of the creek, down- 
creek from the dock, where the channel was about 20 feet wide. Fisher 
knew there was a deep spot, ofi^ the farther bank, directly opposite the 
dock. There, he believed, the shark was lurking with Lester's body. 
Fisher's plan was to flush out the shark, driving it into shallower water 

10 Shark Against Man 

down-creek, where it would be trapped by the chicken-wire barrier. But 
the hastily strung fence only partially blocked the creek. 

When this futile fence was completed, Fisher dived into the creek. 
Several men were in the water, diving to the bottom, feeling in the mud 
for Lester's body. Fisher swam alone to the deep spot. Arthur Smith, 51, 
a carpenter by trade and a hunter by avocation, was diving, too. On 
shore, his daughter was screaming to him: "Come back. Pa! Come back!" 
The task was for younger men. But Smith kept diving, defying the 
death that swam by him and, finally, touched him. (A day would come 
when Arthur Smith, half blind and almost deaf at 95, would sit hunched 
and feeble in an old house on the bank of Matawan Creek. Suddenly, at 
shouted mention of that awful day, he would spring forward in his 
chair and vividly recreate that moment when he felt the shark scrape 
his leg. At 95, he would still carry the scars and show them to one of the 

Smith saw Fisher make two "overhangs"— powerful overhand strokes 
—and dive down, down . . . 

Arthur S. Van Buskirk, a local deputy of the Monmouth County 
Detectives' Office, had just arrived at the creek. He was sitting on the 
forward deck of a small boat when he saw a thrashing in the water at 
the farther shore. Even as he looked, the water calmed and a rapidly 
widening red stain spread on the surface. Van Buskirk yelled at the 
other man in the boat to start the engine and, while it sputtered to life. 
Van Buskirk sculled toward the red stain, in the midst of which Stanley 
Fisher had suddenly appeared. 

Fisher was facing the farther bank. The silent crowd at Wyckoff Dock 
could see only his broad back and shoulders. He was drawn up, half 
crouching in waist-deep water and he seemed to be tottering on one leg. 
The boat pulled up directly behind Fisher. Van Buskirk could see that 
Fisher was holding the bloody remnants of his right leg in both hands. 
Just as Fisher was about to pitch forward face first into the water. Van 
Buskirk reached out and pulled him into his arms. He could get Fisher 
only halfway out of the water. The boat backed out of the shoal water 
and, as it turned to head toward the dock, a gasp rippled through the 
crowd. Now they could see Fisher, breasting the water like a macabre 
figurehead on the prow of the boat. Enough of him was out of the water 
so that his terrible wound could be seen. From groin to kneecap the flesh 
was gone from his right leg. Several women fainted. Little Alfreda Matz, 
one of the many children on the dock, tried to look. But her father threw 
the tail of his suit coat across her eyes and hugged her face to his side. 
She thought, A crocodile bit Mr. Fisher. 

A sound like a moan went up as the boat neared the dock, for Fisher 
almost slipped from Van Buskirk's grasp. Staring down at Fisher's leg— it 

The Shadows Attack 11 

was hardly more than a bone and that bore jagged scratches running 
lengthwise along it— V^an Buskirk saw blood pulsating from a torn artery. 
There was a rope on the deck beneath him, and he thought of tying a 
tourniquet with one hand. His own weight and that of his burden com- 
bined to prevent him from getting the rope, and he almost lost his grip 
on Fisher as well. Just then, hands reached out from the dock and 
grabbed Fisher. He was still conscious. Gently, men placed Fisher on a 
stretcher improvised from planks and bore him to the Matawan railroad, 
about a quarter of a mile away. Each jolting step up the bank and along 
the track stabbed him with searing pain. Merciful unconsciousness awaited 
him, but he seemed to fight it off. There was something he very much 
wanted to say. 

At the station, they placed him on a baggage car and waited for the 
next train. A doctor had been found. There was little he could do, other 
than to retard the flow of blood. Nearly three hours went by until the 
5:06 train from Long Branch was flagged down. Even on the train, Fisher 
held on to consciousness. Not until 7:45 that night, as he was wheeled 
into the operating room at Monmouth Memorial Hospital, did he die. 
Before he died, he had said what he wanted to say: on the bottom of 
Matawan Creek, he had reached the body of Lester Stilwell and wrested 
it from the jaws of the shark. 

While Fisher lay on the baggage car waiting for death and the 5:06, 
several men went to Asher P. Woolley's store and got dynamite to blow 
up the shark they believed to be still off Wyckoff Dock. The creek was 
cleared of boats. But, moments before the charge was to be set off, a 
motorboat hove into view from down-creek. Jacob R. Lefferts, a Matawan 
lawyer, was at the wheel. Lying on the bottom of the boat was a boy. 
His right leg was swathed in bloodied bandages. "A shark got him," 
Lefferts shouted, as he pulled in to shore. The boy was transferred to a 
car and speeded to St. Peter's Hospital in New Brunswick. 

At first the boy would not give his name. He was afraid his mother 
would be angry at him. Soon he was identified as Joseph Dunn, aged 14. 
He had been swimming with his older brother, Michael, and several 
other boys off the dock of the New Jersey Clay Company brickyards 
about a half mile down Matawan Creek, near Keyport. Someone had run 
to the brickyards and told the boys about the shark. They were all in 
the water when the warning came, and they swam swiftly to the dock. 
Joseph Dunn, the youngest, was the last one out of the water. As he 
started up the ladder, something that felt like a big pair of scissors, he 
said, grabbed his right leg. ("I felt my leg going down the shark's throat," 
he said later. "I believe it would have swallowed me.") 

Joseph screamed, and the older boys sprang to the ladder. Joseph 
kicked the water with his free leg. Michael Dunn and two others began 

12 Shark Against Man 

a tug of war with the shark, ripping Joseph's flesh to save his life. For a 
moment or two, the shark hung on. Then, suddenly, Joseph was free. 
The shark had let go— and vanished. Its third victim in less than an 
hour had been snatched from death. 

In St. Peter's Hospital, hope was high that Joseph Dunn's life would 
be saved, but saving his torn leg— slashed with tooth marks, a major 
tendon severed, muscles badly mangled— seemed hopeless. Dr. R. J. 
Faulkingham, on general surgical service at the hospital, was given the 

All that night and into the morning, Matawan Creek was the scene 
of an orgy of vengeance. Blast after blast of dynamite sent geysers of 
water and fish skyward. Hundreds of men lined both banks, armed 
with scythes, pitchforks, and old harpoons taken from hving-room walls. 
By lantern light and by the first glimmer of dawn, men fired shotguns 
and pistols into the creek. At low tide, men waded into the water with 
knives— and even hammers. 

The creek was soon laced with tangles of chicken wire and fishing 
nets. Newspaper reporters and photographers swarmed into Matawan, 
and one newspaper proclaimed that it had organized a shark-hunt— a 
boat loaded to the gunwales with men carrying rifles. Extra-large charges 
of dynamite were set off for the benefit of newsreel cameras. Stores in 
Matawan and Keyport ran out of explosives and ammunition. A special 
order was sent to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, for more. 

"We've got a shark!" a man shouted here . . . then there. Reports 
came in with the tide: one shark, two sharks, three sharks, four sharks 
were trapped in Matawan Creek. With the outgoing tide went reports 
that shark after shark had escaped from Matawan Creek. 

The only respite from the frenzy at the creek came when Matawan 
buried its dead. The boys who had been the last to see Lester Stilwell 
aUve bore him to his grave. At the First Methodist Church on Main 
Street, Stanley Fisher's voice was missing from the choir that mourned 
him. But his memory would live on in the church. With the money from 
the new insurance policy he had so strangely acquired, Stanley's parents 
purchased a stained glass window— a landscape of Bethlehem. In the 
years to come, the rays of the setting sun would filter through the window 
as day's end came to the little town of Matawan. 

At St. Peter's Hospital, Dr. Faulkingham was quietly, skillfully tend- 
ing the wounds of Joseph Dunn. Newspapers had already reported that 
Joseph's leg would undoubtedly have to be amputated. But Dr. Faulking- 
ham didn't have time to read the newspapers. He had sutured Joseph's 
severed tendon and ripped muscles, and a slow, uncertain recovery be- 
gan. It would be 59 days before Joseph Dunn would walk out of St. 
Peter's Hospital, but walk he would, on two strong legs. 

The Shadows Attack 13 

The savage triangular teeth of a Great White shark show plainly in this specimen, 
which is a small Carcharodon carcharias. No other shark has teeth hke the Great 
White's. Note that it is not truly a "white" shark. The underbellies of virtually all 
sharks are white. The upper body of the Great White may vary from an oyster-shell 
white to deepening shades of gray. Courtesy, Miami Seaquarium 

Six days after the attack, a shark was finally caught in Matawan 
Creek— by none other than Captain Cottrell. He was coming up the 
creek in his motorboat Skiid with his son-in-law, Richard Lee, when, 
about 400 yards from the bay, not far from the bridge where he had 
first seen that lethal shadow, he saw a dorsal fin rise out of the water, then 
disappear. Swiftly, he and Lee let out several yards of gill net, weighted 
with lead at the bottom and strung with corks on the top. The net bil- 
lowed out as the outgoing tide carried it down-creek. Both ends of the 
net were secured in the boat. By deft maneuvering, the Captain trapped 
the shark between boat and net. The shark struggled furiously but, foot 
by foot, the two men hauled in the net, which was to be the shark's 

Using the hull of his boat as an anvil, Cottrell smashed the shark on 
the head again and again with a large mallet. When he was convinced 
the shark was dead, Cottrell hauled it ashore. It weighed 230 pounds 
and was almost exactly 7 feet long. He put it on exhibition in his fish 
shed, and nearly everyone in Matawan and Keyport lined up to see it as 
it lay on ice. They paid 10 cents each to view the "Terror of Matawan 

In Bridgehampton, Long Island, scene of another shark scare, a fish- 
erman caught a shark, rented a zinc-lined coffin from a local undertaker, 
and exhibited his shark for 5 cents a look. 

14 Shark Agai?ist Man 

Actually, the killer of Matawan Creek may have been caught two days 
after the attack. Michael Schleisser, a New Yorker who was one of the 
many shark-hunters prowling the local waters on July 14, was dragging 
a drift net behind his boat in hope of snagging a shark. He was in Raritan 
Bay, off South Amboy, New Jersey, less than 4 miles northwest of the 
mouth of Matawan Creek, when a large shark charged the net. Though 
quickly enmeshed, the 8V2-foot shark fought savagely, snapping a jaw 
in which row upon row of teeth glistened menacingly. Schleisser, un- 
aware that he had caught a shark of the most feared species in the sea, 
strained to haul the net closer to the boat, and clubbed the shark again 
and again. Although many other sharks were being hauled in and dis- 
played by fishermen, Schleisser's shark u^as a killer. Had Schleisser slipped 
and tumbled into the net, he might have become another victim. For, 
when he finally subdued the shark, towed it into South Amboy, and 
ripped it open, he found 15 pounds of flesh and bones in its belly. One 
of the bones, 1 1 inches long, was identified as the shinbone of a boy. 
Another fragment appeared to be part of a human rib. There was no 
doubt that the shark had probably attacked and certainly eaten at least 
one human being. 

Dr. Lucas of the Museum of Natural History, skeptical about local 
shark attacks only a few days before, personally identified the remains 
as human. 

The shark itself was identified, too. It was a Great White shark 
{Carcharodofi carcharias), feared as a man-eater in tropical waters but, 
until the period dealt with here, unreported along beaches as far north 
as New Jersey. Doctor Nichols, an expert who had joined with Doctors 
Murphy and Lucas in minimizing the possibihty of shark attacks after 
the first two New Jersey killings, now joined with them in conceding 
the existence of dangerous sharks in northern Atlantic waters. They 
granted at least one man-eating shark, for Nichols and Murphy con- 
cluded that Schleisser's Carcharodon carcharias was probably responsible 
for all five attacks. Whether or not this conservative estimate was accurate, 
it is possible that there were many of these dangerous sharks in the 
waters at the time. 

Schleisser, who had had some training as a taxidermist, mounted his 
shark and placed it on exhibit in a New York newspaper office. Later, 
"The Jaws of the New Jersey Man-Eater" wound up in the window of 
a Broadway fish shop. 

The capture of the apparent killer did not stop the stories that were 
sweeping the Eastern seaboard. From Florida to Rhode Island came re- 
ports of sharks. Virtually every ship that came into New York carried 
a cargo of shark stories. Several hundred sharks were reported off Fire 
Island, Long Island, and posses were formed to track them down. 

The Shadows Attack 15 

Theories abounded, too. One was that heavy cannonading in the 
North Sea had driven sharks across the Atlantic to more tranquil seas. 
Another theory held that sharks were feeding on swimmers because 
they had been deprived of their usual diet of refuse from passenger 
liners, whose sailings were being curtailed by another kind of shark, 
the U-boat. The European war also spawned the idea that sharks had been 
feasting so well on war dead floating down rivers into the sea that they 
had undergone a change of dietary habits. One New York Times letter- 
writer gravely calculated the figures: more than 12,500 war casualties 
had been gobbled up by sharks, he claimed. 

By stoking their imaginations a little more, some of the theorists 
concluded that the ghoul-sharks of European waters had deserted their 
bountiful feeding grounds in the war zone for the far less ample larder 
ofi^ered by New Jersey bathing beaches. 

Logic and reason fell victims to the shark scare. A neighbor of Teddy 
Roosevelt's said she saw a shark off the beach in Oyster Bay, Long Island, 
and called upon him to do something about it. A long-distance swimmer 
announced that he would brave the terrors of the lower bay of New 
York Harbor in a round trip from the Battery to Sandy Hook— in a wire 
basket. In the New York Times, America's leading woman swimmer, 
Annette Kellerman, advised bathers to dive under an onrushing shark. 
"As he is coming at you upside down," she explained, "you have a 
chance to get away, if the distance to shore or safety is not too far." 
A chorus girl rushed into print with the exciting news that she had es- 
caped a shark by frightening it off with an impromptu ballet of splashes 
and kicks. Human sharks profiteered from "special swimming courses" 
to teach bathers how to outwit sharks. Arguments broke out over whether 
the shark attacks weren't rather the doings of giant turtles! 

After losses estimated at $1,000,000 in canceled reservations, the 
mayors of 10 New Jersey resort towns met at Beach Haven, where the 
first shark attack had occurred, and pleaded for an end to the panic. They 
asked newspapers to refrain from publishing stories that "cause the public 
to believe the New Jersey seacoast is infested with sharks, whereas there 
are no more than in any other summer." The resort men thus went on 
record that there were sharks in their waters every summer! 

The mayors' plea went unheard. Shark stories continued for a few 
more days to push news of the war and the infantile paralysis epidemic 
to secondary positions on newspaper front pages. 

"Sharks are the undisputed masters of the Atlantic coast," one New 
York newspaper exclaimed. "The federal government yesterday aban- 
doned its proposed campaign of extermination along the New Jersey 
beaches. The enemy was too numerous for the Coast Guard to tackle, it 
was said." 

16 Shark Against Man 

There was some truth in the story of the government's so-called 
surrender. The federal government had indeed declared war on sharks. 
A Coast Guard cutter had been dispatched to New Jersey to fight them. 
A congressman, predictably from New Jersey, had risen in Congress 
and asked for a $5,000 appropriation to launch a federal crusade against 
the shark. 

And ultimately the strategy of the shark war was discussed at the 
highest possible level. At a time when Presidential worries included 
Pancho Villa's raids, a national election campaign, and possible U.S. 
participation in the World War, the President's Cabinet actually placed 
the subject of sharks on its agenda. After this Cabinet meeting. Secretary 
of the Treasury McAdoo announced that the Coast Guard had been 
ordered to do what it could, which eventually turned out to be nothing. 
Secretary of Commerce William C. Redfield stated that his Bureau of 
Fisheries had not yet discovered why the sharks had appeared. Later, 
the Bureau of Fisheries officially warned bathers to stay in shallow water, 
because there was no known way to get rid of sharks. 

But already, as unexpectedly and as unpredictably as they had ap- 
peared, the sharks had disappeared and become, once more, merely shad- 
ows in the sea. 


Why was the New Jersey coast the fateful rendezvous for four deaths 
by shark bite? Why had five shark attacks occurred in 12 days in an 
area where none had occurred before? 

Why? (And why is the New Jersey coast still one of the most shark- 
ridden coasts in the northern latitudes?) 

After the panic-mongers and the tale-spinners had left the stage, taking 
with them their bizarre theories about shark attacks, the scientific experts 
stepped forward to explain the 1916 attacks. The experts looked a bit 

In April, 1916, three months before the attacks in New Jersey, Doc- 
tors Nichols, Murphy and Lucas (the three shark experts) had collabo- 
rated on an article on sharks in Long Island waters. Their paper, pub- 
lished in the highly respected Brooklyn Museum Quarterly, all but dis- 
missed the possibility of a shark attack on a "living man." 

"Probably few swimmers have actually met in him their fate," Nichols 
and Murphy wrote, "but doubtless many a poor drowned sailor has there 
found his final resting place." And, in a separate postscript, Lucas added 
his voice of authority: 

"Cases of shark bite do now and then occur," Lucas conceded, "but 
there is a great difference between being attacked by a shark and being 
bitten by one, and the cases of shark bite are usually found to have been 
due to someone incautiously approaching a shark impounded or tangled 

The Shadows Attack 17 

in a net, or gasping on the shore. And, under such circumstances, al- 
most any creature will bite." 

Recalling the unclaimed $500 reward Herman Oelrichs had offered 
for proof of a shark attack north of Cape Hatteras, Lucas concluded: 
"That this reward was never claimed shows that there is practically no 
danger of any attack from a shark about our coasts." 

In October, 1916, Nichols and Murphy were back in print again. In 
a cautious understatement, thev noted that "the New Jersey accidents 
of July, 1916," had brought "the whole shark question before us in a 
new phase." After making the concession that four "living men" had 
indeed been killed by sharks, they wrote: "It must be admitted that 
deaths from shark bite within a short radius of New York City would 
seem to be one of those unaccountable happenings that take place from 
time to time to the confounding of savants and the justification of the 
wildest tradition." 

After investigating the attacks and searching for clues to explain 
them, Lucas, Nichols, and Murphy confirmed that an unusual number of 
sharks had summered in New York-New Jersey waters. "The nearest 
I can come to accounting for the sudden preying of these fish," Lucas 
said, "is to say that this is a 'shark year.' " In line with this theory, 
Nichols and Murphy wrote: 

"It is not impossible that this summer sharks really are with us in 
unprecedented force, and that we are experiencing an extraordinary 
shark migration, a movement comparable with the sporadic abundance 
during certain years of army worms, or jelly fishes, or western grass- 
hoppers, or northern lemmings— movements that all have their source 
in overproduction and other little understood natural agencies." 

Further indication that 1916 was a "shark year" comes from the 
records of a remarkable shark-watcher, Edwin Thorne, a member of 
the Board of Managers of the New York Zoological Society. Thome's 
hobby was not only shark-watching but also shark-catching. Between 
the years 1911 and 1927, Thorne spent a total of 302 days looking for 
sharks in Long Island's Great South Bay, then and now a popular bathing 
and boating area. Great South Bay was also popular with sharks, Thorne 
discovered. For, in those 17 years, he sighted 1,799 sharks and killed 
305 of them. 

In 1916, he saw 277 sharks and killed 102. In no other year did he see 
or kill as many . 

Nearly all the sharks Thorne killed were female Brown sharks 
{Eulamia milberti, formerly Carcharinus milberti), which had entered 
Great South Bay to spawn their litters of 6 to 13 young. (Like many 
species of shark, the Brown shark brings forth young alive.) Great 
South Bay was— and is— a "shark nursery," a sheltered spot where newly 

18 Shark Against Man 

bom sharks can begin their Hves in relative tranquillity, one of many 
such nurseries that have been found all over the world and that are used 
by various species of sharks. 

No Brown shark has ever been convicted of attacking a bather. An 
increase in the number of Brown sharks in New York waters would have 
had no direct connection with the New Jersey attacks. The indication, 
however, that more Brown sharks than usual were around in 1916 did 
raise the question of whether a population explosion in indigenous sharks 
somehow had brought about the appearance of a dangerous stranger, such 
as a Great White shark. 

Besides the "shark year" theory, there was some speculation that 
hunger had driven sharks closer to shore. Because of unexplained short- 
ages of normal food at sea, the sharks were said to be prowling the coasts, 
seeking new prey: and five times— or so the theory went— that had 
been man. This theory, of course, did not square with the assumption 
that a single shark had been responsible for all five attacks. But, even 
though human remains had been found in the Great White shark caught 
on July 14th, this was not irrefutable proof that the Great White had 
been the only one of its kind— or the only large and potentially dangerous 
shark— in New Jersey waters during that particular summer. 

On a hot August afternoon in 1960, 44 summers after the New Jersey 
shark attacks of 1916, John Brodeur, a 24-year-old accountant, and Jean 
Filoramo, his 22-year-old fiancee, walked hand in hand into the surf ofi^ 
a beach at Sea Girt, New Jersey, barely 2 miles from Spring Lake, where 
Charles Bruder had been killed by a shark so long before. 

In waist-deep water, John and Jean waited for a breaker that would 
carry them to shore. A glistening, frothing breaker bore down on them. 
Brodeur let it pass; he wanted a bigger one. As the breaker rolled past 
him, he thought he saw something black within it. He wondered idly 
for a moment what that something was. 

Then, something— ?^«? black soTnething— struck him from behind 
and seized his right leg. Brodeur kicked his left leg at the thing that was 
clamping an ever-tightening grip about his other leg. His left leg struck 
something hard and coarse. He twisted about and hit a black body with 
his left hand So rough was the surface of what he hit that it badly cut two 
of his fingers. The sea around him was red and he saw, floating to the 
surface, bits of red flesh torn from his leg. 

Submerged by the next breaker. Brodeur lost consciousness. Miss 
Filoramo pulled him to the surface and screamed for help. Three men 
dashed into the surf and helped her carry him to the beach. Norman 
Porter, a former Marine major, ran to where Brodeur was being placed 
on the beach, grabbed a leather belt from a lifeguard, and wrapped it 
around Brodeur's thigh as a tourniquet. 

The Shadows Attack 19 

The calf of his leg was hanging by a few shreds of flesh and muscle. 
One leg bone was crushed, the other was deeply gouged. By the time 
he reached a hospital, only a few minutes after he was carried to shore, 
he had lost an estimated 8 pints of blood. Eight days after he entered 
the hospital, Brodeur's mangled right leg was amputated at the knee. 
But he was lucky. He had survived a shark attack. 

The sharks were off the New Jersey coast in the summer of 1962, 
just as thev were every year. But when, one pleasant Sunday in August, 
a bather stumbled, bleeding, out of the water at the beach in Manasquan, 
the resort-minded police stubbornly insisted that "a big fish," not a 
s k, had done the job. 

The bather, Michael Roman, aged 24, was taken to Point Pleasant 
(N. J.) Hospital. The physician who stitched up Roman's left hand 
and left thigh said that an outline of teeth, forming an incomplete oval 
of lYo by 9% inches, was clearly visible on Roman's leg. Still, the official 
report persisted: "A big fish." 

On Monday, Kendall H. Lee, City Manager of Asbury Park, a popular 
resort a few miles north of Manasquan, sent telegrams to newspapers 
in the area: please be advised our bathing beaches are and have been 


Finally, on Tuesday, State Conservation Commissioner H. Mat Adams 
courageously faced the fact emblazoned on Michael Roman's left thigh. 
What had attacked Michael Roman, the commissioner solemnly an- 
nounced, was a shark. It was a very special kind of shark, however, for, 
Adams pointed out, it had not engaged in a "vicious attack." He said 
that the shark had not closed its jaws. Rather, Roman had unknowingly 
put his arm into the shark's mouth up to his elbow. It almost seemed as 
if Roman was being blamed for attacking the shark! 

What happened to John Brodeur that day in 1960; what happened 
to Charles Van Sant, to Charles Bruder, to Lester Stilwell, to Stanley 
Fisher, to Joseph Dunn; what happened down the years to so many— 
and yet, proportionately, to so few— bathers could happen on any warm 
day in any year at any beach on the East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf 
Coast of the continental United States. It could happen, too, on any day 
or night in any warm or temperate sea on earth, for the shark lives in 
them all. And there are many rivers and at least one fresh-water lake 
where it could also happen! 

Rarely does it happen. The chances of being attacked by a shark, it 
is often said, are about as great as of being struck by lightning. Actually, 
there is no comparison between the rarity of death by shark bite and 
the frequency of death by lightning. In 1959, for instance, 183 persons 
were killed by lightning in the United States— and only 3 were known 

20 Shark Agamst Man 

to have been killed by sharks. Australia is regarded as one of the most 
shark-infested countries in the world. Since 1919, there have been about 
100 reported attacks on swimmers in Australia— less than three a year. 
And at one beach, even after three attacks took place, it was calculated 
that for each bather attacked by a shark, about 30 million bathers had 
suffered no more than sunburn. Of the swimmers who have enjoyed 
Florida waters in modern times, less than one out of every 5 million 
bathers has been attacked in any way by a shark. 

But statistics cannot still the fear evoked by the sight of a dark dorsal 
fin or just an ominous shadow beneath the surface— or the panic loosed 
on beaches when an attack does occur. 

Brodeur was attacked on August 21, 1960, and a mild panic began. 
Police of several New Jersey shore towns ordered the beaches closed. Life- 
guards at New York City's teeming beaches were ordered to use "extreme 
alertness and caution" in watching not only for sharks but also for 
panic caused by baseless shark reports. (A New York Park Department 
spokesman explained that in past shark scares children had been trampled 
during the stampede out of the water.) 

On August 24th, a man in 4^2 feet of water 75 yards offshore in 
Bridgeport, Connecticut, was nipped on the left arm by a shark. The 
panic increased. Sharks were being reported— and, occasionally, caught— 
off beaches from Boston to Florida. Beach after beach was closed. In 
New York City, policemen armed with submachine guns manned six 
police launches, which, along with two helicopters, were assigned to 
special shark-patrol duty. 

On August 30th, still in 1960, a man swimming 2 miles from shore at 
Ocean City, New Jersey— about 40 miles south of the scene of the 
Brodeur attack— was savaged by two or more sharks. His right leg was 
severely torn and his body slashed, but he managed to swim ashore. 
Eventually, he recovered without losing his leg. 

The panic was really on now: 25,000 bathers were ordered out of the 
water after a shark was reported off New York City's Orchard Beach. 
(There were no reports of children being trampled.) Coney Island 
bathers scrambled ashore when poHcemen, firing rifles and submachine 
guns for the benefit of cameramen, inadvertently triggered a shark scare. 

It was like 1916, with modern touches. Besides the submachine guns 
and the helicopters, a Navy blimp was put on shark-spotting duty, and 
Coast Guard cutters scoured the sea, directed to reported shark packs 
by radio. 

The anxieties of bathers presumably were put to rest by the knowl- 
edge that nearly every modern weapon was being used against the shark. 
But few realized what a senseless war it was. For the seas abound in sharks. 

Sharks menace popular bathing, boating, and water-sports areas all 

The Shadoivs Attack 21 

over the world— from the beaches of Australia, South Africa and Cali- 
fornia to the sun worshipers' meccas of Florida and the shores of Long- 
Island. Between August 13 th and October 13 th, 1961, a total of 310 sharks 
were caught off the New Jersey and the Long Island coasts by agents 
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of a very limited study of 
predators of game fishes. The catch, according to Dr. Lionel A. Walford, 
director of Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory at Highlands, New Jersey, 
included six Great White sharks {Carcharodon carcharias), ranging in 
weight from 151 to 285 pounds.^ 

Florida, with its 1,277 miles of coastline, has at least 40 species of 
sharks within its waters, most of which are said to be harmless. But 
many a "harmless" shark inexplicably turns on man. One species, long 
dismissed as harmless, has, in very recent times, been accused of 14 
known attacks. 

Bathers have been scraped, maimed, or killed by small sharks, big 
sharks, and such bizarre shark relatives as the Sawfish, whose long snout 
is studded with thick and massive teeth, and the sting ray, whose tail is 
a whip that bears one or more venomous spines. It is impossible to classify 
precisely some sharks as harmless and some sharks as dangerous. 

But there is one shark that ranks above all others as a killer and 
that is the Great White shark. Even after the attacks in 1916, when the 
Great White was captured off New Jersey, U.S. Commissioner of Fish- 
eries Hugh M. Smith said, "It must be regarded as comparatively in- 
offensive in our waters." The Great White was then thought to be a 
tropical shark. We know today, though, that it often cruises as far north 
as Nova Scotia. The Great White is also described as a pelagic (oceanic) 
shark, but it makes excursions into bathing areas. And monstrous speci- 
mens have been taken not far from such areas. A 3,000-pound, 16-foot 
Great White, for instance, was harpooned a few miles off Amagansett 
Beach on Long Island in 1960. 

In 1950, the California Bureau of Marine Fisheries published a guide 
to sharks found in that state's waters. The guide said that the Great 
White was "uncommon at best in our waters, and, since it rarely comes 
inshore, it is a negligible hazard to California swimmers." [Italics added.] 

One day in October, 1955, a shark appeared near two skin-divers 
swimming not far from shore off La Jolla, California. The divers were 
not attacked and the incident probably would not have been investigated 

1 Other species caught in the Fish and Wildlife survey: 124 Sandbars {Eiilamia 
milberti), weighing 8 to 348 pounds; 77 Duskys (Carcharbimis obscuriis) , 12 to 590 
pounds; 52 Smooth Dogfish (Mustehis canis), iVz to 18 pounds; 29 Tigers (Galeo- 
cerdo cuvieri), 29 to 1,100 pounds; 9 Hammerheads {Sphyrna zygaena and Sphyrna 
diplana), 24 to 225 pounds; 6 Makos (hums oxyrinchus), 220 to 320 pounds; 1 Sand 
(Carcharias tauriis), 250 pounds, and a 650-pound Thresher (Alopias vulpinus). Six 
sharks were lost before they could be positively identified. 

22 Shark Agamst Man 

except for a quirk of geography. The shark had chosen to appear right 
off the pier at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography— and an ichthy- 
ology student was there to identify it as a Great White shark. The next 
day, a Scripps specialist in sharks, Arthur O. Flechsig, was at the pier. 
He baited a hook and caught the shark. It got away before Flechsig and 
his two companions could land it. But it had attacked their boat not far 
from the pier and left behind proof of identification as reliable as a 
fingerprint: two teeth embedded in the gouged bottom of the skiff. 
One of the most positive means of identifying a shark is by its teeth. 
There was no doubt that the teeth in Flechsig's boat belonged to a 
Great White. 

Within two weeks, nine Great Whites had been caught in the area. 

Shark attacks had been rare in California coastal waters up to 1955, 
when the Great Whites suddenly appeared. Besides two cases of swim- 
mers being brushed by sharks, there were on record only three known 
attacks, one of which in Monterey Bay, on December 7, 1952, was fatal. 
But in 1955, California's shark-attack pattern changed drastically: two 
reports of minor injuries from encounters with sharks off Venice Beach 
... a grapple between a surfboarder and a shark off Santa Monica . . . 
a vicious attack upon a SCUBA diver by a 3-foot shark . . . the aston- 
ishing escape of a spear-fisherman who had been seized by a shark but 
suffered only a scratched foot. The spear-fisherman had been diving in 
Monterey Bay. He wore a black rubber diving suit and rubber swim 
fins. The shark grabbed him by the ankles, ripped both "ankles" off 
the diver's rubber suit, tore ofiF his right swim fin and a heavy wool sock, 
and bit through his left swim fin. The fisherman identified the shark as 
a Great White. 

There was one report of a non-fatal attack in California in 1956. 
Then in 1957, one eerie encounter with a shark was reported. Peter 
Savino and Daniel Hogan were swimming beyond the breakers of Morro 
Bay, near San Luis Obispo. Savino became tired and Hogan began towing 
him toward shore. A shark appeared, nudged Savino and slashed his arm, 
apparently by rubbing him with its sandpaper hide. "I have blood on 
my arms! We'd better get out of here!" Savino yelled to Hogan. They 
began swimming separately. Hogan turned a moment later to see whether 
Savino was all right. Savino had disappeared, without an outcry, and 
was never seen again. 

In 1959, California again experienced a Year of the Shark. On May 
7th, a swimmer was killed by a shark practically within the shadow of 
Golden Gate Bridge. And, on June 14th, there almost certainly was 
another Great White shark off La Jolla, but this time the shark was not 
caught. Instead, it caught a man. 

Robert Pamperin, a husky, 33-year-old aircraft engineer, was diving 

The Shadows Attack 23 

for abalone about 50 yards off La Jolla with another skin-diver, Tom 
Lehrer. Suddenly, Pamperin rose high out of the water. His skin-diver 
face-plate had been torn off. He screamed once. 

"I was swimming about fifteen feet from Bob," Lehrer said later. 
"I heard him calling, 'Help me! Help me!' 

"I swam over to him. He was thrashing in the water, and I could 
tell he was fighting something underneath . . ." 

In the next instant, Pamperin went under. Lehrer peered underwater 
through his face-place. The water, though bloodied, was remarkably 
clear, and he saw his friend's body in the jaws of a shark. 

"It had a white belly and I could see its jaws and jagged teeth," 
Lehrer said. "I wasn't able to do anything more. So I swam to shore to 
warn the other swimmers." 

Before 1959 ended, there were three more attacks in California— a 
spear-fisherman whose left leg was slashed by a Hammerhead shark 300 
yards from where Pamperin had been devoured; a swimmer whose left 
arm was raked from wrist to elbow by a shark off Malibu; and a skin- 
diver who lived to tell how (what he presumed to be) a Great White 
shark bit down on one of his rubber swim fins, "shook me like a dog 
shakes a bone," and then released him, unharmed. 

Public officials in California talked of somehow finding a way to 
stop the sharks. Swimmers and skin-divers sought an explanation for the 
attacks and the presence of Great Whites in California waters. Ocean- 
ographers said that there had been a rise in water temperatures off the 
coast of California in recent years. But no one really knew why the 
sharks had come, why bathers had been attacked— or even how many 
had been attacked. For, when a man goes for a long ocean swim and 
never returns, or when men go out fishing in a small boat and only the 
boat is found . . . what was their fate? Captain Charles Hardy, chief 
of San Diego lifeguards, remarked after Pamperin's death that three 
persons had disappeared in the area during the previous three months, 
and that their bodies had never been found. Were they, too, victims of 

Eight days after Pamperin was killed, a 12%-foot shark was caught 
off Catalina Island, about 60 miles north of La Jolla. In its belly was 
found a man's watch, too badly deteriorated to be identified. It could 
not have been Pamperin's, for he wore no jewelry when he went on 
his last abalone hunt. But whose watch was it? Had a man lost it at 
sea and, as it fell to the bottom, had its <jl"-ni lured a curious shark? Or 
had a man been wearing it? 

Wlien the southern summer began in Australia in November of 1961, 
the warm weather ushered in another tragic "Year of the Shark." Fisher- 
men and bathers began reporting the sighting of more offshore sharks 

24 Shark Against Man 

than had been seen in recent memory. This time, there was no mystery 
about what had lured the shark packs. Heavy rains and floods had swept 
countless fish down the rivers and into the sea along much of Australia's 

At many beach resorts, shark patrols were doubled, and swimmers 
were continually warned against swimming alone or venturing out too 
far. Along the coasts of Victoria and New South Wales, at least 15 
Gray Nurse and White Pointer sharks were killed. 

But, in mid-December, a 22-year-old man was attacked off the 
Queensland coast. His left leg was mauled, and he died within a week. 
Then, on December 28th, an 18-year-old girl and her 24-year-old boy 
friend went swimming at Mackay, Queensland. They were standing in 
about 2^ feet of water about 12 feet from shore when a shark knocked 
down the girl. In three savage attacks, the shark ripped off one of the 
girl's arms and part of the other and slashed her right thigh. Her com- 
panion desperately beat the shark with his fists. His right hand suddenly 
gushed blood. By this time, a third bather came to their aid, and the shark 
disappeared. Forty-eight hours later, the girl died. 

chapter 2 

More Shadows 

The hazardous creatures of the sea are 
many, but there is one that man fears 
above all others: the ominous, stealthy shadow— The Shark. 

The fear of sharks is older than the recorded history of man, for 
tales of terrible encounters between sharks and men go back to pre- 
historic times. In recorded history the Greek poet, Leonidas of Taren- 
tum, told of Tharsys, a sponge diver, who was being pulled into a boat 
when a shark attacked him, tearing away the lower portions of his body. 
Tharsys' companions took his remains to shore, and thus, the poet wryly 
noted, Tharsys was buried "both on land and in the sea." 

Since the time Europeans first sailed the open sea, they carried back 
to port tales of fearsome fishes— "cruell devourers, the ravenous tiburon,'" 
man-eating monsters. They were sharks. Yet, skeptics ashore doubted 
the tales, ^nd the doubts grew as sea voyages became more commonplace. 
By relatively modern times, the skeptics were insisting that no adequate 
proof existed to show that sharks truiV attacked living men. 

In 1916, when the first New Jersey shark attack occurred, the skeptics 
were shaken, but they still clung to their claims. Even after five suc- 
cessive attacks in New Jersey waters that summer, alleged experts held 
out against the belief that a shark, unprovoked, would devour a living 
man. The evidence occasionally found in the bellies of sharks, they 
said, proved only that sharks would eat bodies, and this was really no 
proof that the persons were aUve when the sharks found them. This was 
and is a perfectly valid statement. 

Ten years after the New Jersey attacks, a businessman named Louis 
J. Crossette announced that he was going to start a shark fishery in the 
Caribbean. He wasn't worried. "Sharks do not eat human beings," he 
explained. "The shark is one of the worst cowards in the sea." Crossette 
pointed out that no less an authority than William Beebe, the famed 
underwater explorer, also scoffed at stories of shark attacks. 

Beebe, in his bathysphere at the bottom of the ocean, had peered 
through the thick windows and had seen sharks. He had observed them 
close at hand while in a bathing suit and diving helmet, in fairly shallow 


26 Shark Against Man 

water. None had menaced him. He had also, he said, talked to men in 
the tropics who had encountered sharks. And, Beebe said, he had come 
away unconvinced that the shark was a man-eater. Once, he recounted, 
he had asked the head of the pearl-diving industry in Ceylon if sharks 
bit men. 

"Why, yes," the head pearl diver repUed. "We lose many men. They 
go down, disappear, and we see blood coming to the top of the water." 

"Now, tell me," Beebe said, "as one man of science to another, did 
you ever know a shark to bite a man?" 

The way Beebe told the story, the head diver grinned sheepishly and 
answered: "No, but the tourists like to hear such stories, so we tell them 
what they want to know." 

With well-known experts like Beebe around, the reality of the five 
New Jersey shark attacks could not compete with the unreality of ig- 
noring the facts of the shark menace. Telling people what they wanted 
to hear, many alleged experts said that no one need fear the shark. 
"Where are the records to prove shark attacks?" the experts said. "What 
is there to rely on besides sailors' yarns?" 

The record was there, if anyone bothered to look at it. There was, 
for instance, the Indian Medical Gazette of April 1, 1881, in which a 
surgeon routinely reported that "more than 20 persons have been se- 
verely bitten by sharks this year. Almost all were fatal." And there 
were on record in 1926 at least four well-documented shark attack re- 
ports in the archives of the United States Navy. 

Apparently, these Navy records were not consulted by those who 
refused to believe that sharks would attack men. It seems likely, though, 
that the following report by a Navy surgeon would have converted any 

The U.S.S. Dale, at the time of the accident, was anchored in Canacao Bay, 
P. I. About 5 p.m., May 31, 1917, E. E., water tender, attached to the U.S.S. 
Dale, started out for a long swim, accompanied by one of his shipmates. E. E. 
was an excellent swimmer and, after a time, his companion, becoming tired and 
not wishing to go further, left him and he continued to swim alone in the direc- 
tion of the open bay. 

About 5:45 p.m., a seaman on the U.S.S. Monterey happened to notice E. E., 
who was then some 200 yards from the ship, fall suddenly on his back and then 
give two or three violent strokes in the water. At the same time, the observer 
saw a shark in close proximity to the bather. 

It was not hard to conjecture that some accident had occurred, and a boat 
was rapidly lowered and rushed to the vicinity where the man had last been 
seen. The body was recovered, but it was evident from the extensiveness of the 
wound that the man was dead. He was then taken to the morgue of the United 
States Naval Hospital, Canacao, P. I. 

More Shadows Attack 27 

Nearly the entire abdominal cavity had been torn awav. Indeed, the wound 
extended from the ensiform cartilage nearly to the brim of the pelvis. Laterally, 
from the right mid-axillary line to the left mid-axillary line. The stomach, the 
small and large intestine, with the exception of a few feet, most of the liver 
and bladder, half of the left kidney and all of the large abdominal blood vessels 
were removed ... A portion of the ribs had been taken out with the nicety 
of a costotome. Some of the skin along the edges of the wound was in ribbons 
and bore the imprint of the monster's teeth. 

E. E. was of large stature. He was about 5 feet, 1 1 inches tall and weighed 
approximately 200 pounds. No doubt if he had been of much smaller dimensions 
the force of the attack might have been sufficient to have cut his body in two. 

If indisputable medical reports such as that one had gained circulation, 
the question of whether or not sharks attack men would have been settled 
long ago! 

The first documented study of shark attacks in U.S. waters did not 
come until 1935, when E. Milby Burton, director of the Charleston (South 
Carolina) Museum, reported. 

Authentic published records of persons having been bitten bv sharks while 
in bathing along the Atlantic coast north of Florida are rare . . . Yet, within 
the last decade, off the coast of South Carolina, there have been several well- 
authenticated cases of fierce attacks upon bathers. 

Burton examined hospital records, interviewed victims, and talked 
to the doctors who had treated them. The first attack Burton docu- 
mented occurred on July 16th, 1933, when Miss Emma G. Megginson 
was standing in the surf at Folly Island, which lies south of Charleston 
harbor and faces on the Atlantic. The water was about up to Miss 
Megginson's waist. Her younger brother was in the water with her, 
and, when she felt something pinch the calf of her left leg, she thought 
it was her brother trying to frighten her. 

But a moment later, her right leg was seized savagely, and blood 
tinged the water around her. She staggered ashore and was taken to the 
Roper Hospital in Charleston, where 30 stitches werp needed to close 
the wounds imprinted by the jaws of a shark. 

Five days later, Drayton Hastie, aged 15, was swimming at the north 
end of Morris Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. The attack on 
Miss Megginson, and the almost simultaneous capture of an 8-foot Cub 
shark, had made everyone around Charleston shark conscious. So, when 
Drayton saw what he thought was a dorsal fin of a shark far up on the 
shore from \\ here he was swimming, he was momentarily frightened. 
He concluded, though, that he had excitedly identified a choppy wave 
as a fin. 

Just to play it safe, however, Drayton waded to shore and sat down 
in about 3 feet of water in a place where the beach sloped gradually 

28 Shark Against Man 

Three hundred yards off the shore of North Bondi, Australia, two surf-boarders freeze 
in terror as the dorsal fin of a shark cuts through the water close to them. The shark 
circled the youths for 40 minutes before a boat chased it out to sea. (This unbelievable 
picture has been double-checked for accuracy. It was taken by Sydney Daily Telegraph, 
photographer John Askew. ) United Press International Photo 

to a drop-off some 6 feet from shore. "I was almost certain," he said 
later, "that in such shallow water I would be safe from anything large 
enough to bite." 

Drayton was thus sitting in shallow water when ... "I felt a swerve 
of water, which was immediately followed by an impact which brought 
me to my senses. Something clamped down on my right leg. I was aware 
of a tearing pain up and down my leg, and that I was being pulled 
outward by something which seemed to have the power of a horse. 
Looking down, I saw, amid the foam and splashing, the head of a large 
shark with my knee in its mouth, shaking it as a puppy would shake a 
stick in attempting to take it away from someone. Through natural 
instinct, I started kicking frantically with my unharmed leg, in order 
to free myself. I freed my right leg, only to have the monster bite me 
on my left one. 

"All this time I had been pulling myself up on the beach backwards 
with my hands and kicking at the rough head of the shark, which 
seemed to me as solid as Gibraltar. 

"Although to you this may seem long and strung out," Drayton 
told Burton, "it must have all happened in a space of ten seconds . . . 
Some people said I had been bitten by everything from crabs up to 
whales ... I still have a perfect design of a shark's mouth around my 
knee, measuring ten inches across. This confirms the statement of my 

More Shadows Attack 29 

friend who was standing on the bank and who said that the shark was 
easily eight feet long." 

Drayton Hastie recovered. Possibly confirming his story, within a 
week after the attack, an 8-foot Cub shark {Carcharhimis leiicas) was 
caught less than a hundred yards from the scene of the previous attack. 
It may well have been the same culprit. 

A little more than a month after the attacks on Miss Megginson and 
Drayton Hastie, Kenneth Layton and a friend were swimming at Paw- 
ley's Island, about 75 miles north of Charleston. They were far from 
shore, although the water they were in was only about 4 feet deep. 
Suddenly, a man on the beach shouted: "Shark! Shark!" 

Layton heard the w^arning at about the same instant he saw what had 
inspired it: a large dorsal fin about 50 yards away from him and bearing 
toward him fast. Layton and his friend frantically began swimming to- 
ward shore. But the shark veered and seemed to be trying to cut the 
swimmers off before they could reach shallow water. It did not attack 
immediately. Almost as if it were toying with the swimmers, or singling 
one of them out, it held ofiF until the swimmers were in waist-deep water. 
Then, in a flash of movement, the shark struck Layton, seizing his right 
heel and ankle. Courageous friends splashed through the sea to his side, 
and, by sheer tugging, pulled him from the shark's jaws. The shark 
disappeared. Several tendons of his right ankle were severed, but Layton 
survived— and eventually regained use of his crippled foot. 

These were not the first shark attacks South Carolina had known. In 
1924, for instance, a man was attacked by "a large fish" while standing 
near the shore of Folly Island. Alore than 100 stitches were taken in 
wounds in his left leg. Two months after the attack, he went back to 
the hospital, complaining about intense pains in his left knee. The knee 
was operated upon, and a remnant of a tooth was removed. The tooth 
was immediately mis-identified as a barracuda's. This, presumably, re- 
lieved people around Folly Island, for, when faced with some seemingly 
incontestable piece of evidence proving an attack, the believer in the 
benevolence of the shark always somehow finds solace in blaming a 
creature other than a shark. (When Burton was assembling his evidence 
of South Carolina shark attacks, he had the tooth-from-the-knee clue 
examined by two ichthyologists who positively identified it as having 
come from the jaw of a shark! ) 

Competent research such as Burton's could have turned up numerous 
shark attacks along United States coasts. But the public, to the delight of 
concessionaires and chambers of commerce in coastal resort towns, asked 
for no revelations about shark attacks. They preferred to continue to 
ignore the shark. 

Skepticism about shark attacks persisted up to the advent of World 


Shark Agamst Man 

The mass feeding habit of sharks is shown here. The seas are trothing from the frenzied 
thrashings of sharks in search of food. This is the most perilous situation a man in 
the water can face. The photo was taken during the Navy's wartime experiments to 
develop a shark repellent. The sharks are feeding on trash fish dumped overboard by 
a shrimp boat off Mayport, Florida. The sharks here were tentatively identified as 
Small Black-Tipped sharks {Carcharhinus limhatus). U.S. Navy Photo 

War II. When the war began, neither sailors nor ocean-spanning pilots 
were prepared for what awaited them if they were cast into shark-in- 
fested waters. 

On the very day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, half a world 
away sharks were attacking, too. A British warship was torpedoed in 
the South Atlantic on that day. As survivors swam to life-rafts, a pack 
of sharks appeared among them. A4an after man was attacked. The blood 
triggered a frenzy, and the sharks went mad with hunger-lust. The men 
lucky enough to reach the rafts fought off emboldened sharks with 
paddles. When the survivors were rescued five days later, weary, ♦"errified 
men were still wielding paddles, and sharks were still claiming victims. 
Of the 450 men aboard, 170 survived. How many were killed by the 
torpedoing, how many drowned— and how many were devoured by 
sharks— will never be known. 

Nor will it be known how many victims sharks claimed in other war- 

More Shadows Attack 31 

time disasters, such as the torpedoing of the troopship Nova Scotia at 
ni^ht off Delagoa Bay, southeast Africa just north of Durban, or the 
sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis by a Japanese submarine in the Philip- 

A thousand men were lost in the Nova Scotia tragedy. Next morning, 
when rescue ships arrived, they found numerous corpses in lifejackets. 
The lifejackets had saved the men from drowning. But their dead bod- 
ies were legless. Nothing could have saved the men from the hordes of 
sharks that swarmed the sea. 

In the sinking of the bidianapolis, 316 men survived and 883 died, 
most of them in the water, awaiting a bungled rescue that did not come 
for four long torturous days. The number of men killed by sharks is 
not known. Many of the men who survived bore shark bites. And 88 of 
the bodies recovered had been mutilated by sharks. 

Despite the earher known shark attacks, U.S. survival manuals pub- 
lished at the start of the war dismissed the shark as "slow-moving, cow- 
ardly, and easily frightened off by splashing." The shark was described 
as "a warv fish, suspicious of noise, movement, unfamiliar forms. This 
trait alone would restrain a shark from attacking a swimming person." 
The shark described in the survival manual appeared to be a creature 
akin to the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz, and the recommenda- 
tions for fighting off a shark read like something out of a fairy tale. After 
"striking him on his tender, vulnerable nose, in the eye, or knifing the 
more vital gills," the manual writers bravely advised, "swim out of the 
line of his charge, grab a pectoral fin as he goes by, and ride with him 
as long as you can hold your breath."— Probably the silliest armchair 
advice that could be offered. 

But this was only the beginning. "If you can attach yourself to him," 
the manual went on, "the shark may lose his viciousness and become his 
usual cowardly self. If you have a knife, cut the shark's belly open. By 
opening the shark's belly, you let water inside; this will kill him almost 
instantly."— Alore absolute nonsense. 

A reader of the manual, who did manage to survive a shark attack 
despite the book's advice, told how he pounded his unloaded .45 pistol 
on an attacking shark's "vulnerable nose" and "soft" belly. "He turned 
over then," the pilot reported, "and I started to pound him on the top 
of his head. He was as hard as steel there, and I later discovered I'd 
partially flattened the little steel eyelet on the butt of the gun, where the 
lanyard is attached." 

Life-raft occupants were also attacked, and what happened to some 
of them was certainly not covered in the survival manual. "Late in the 
afternoon," a man who lived through 17 days on a life-raft recounted, 
"a shark about four feet long struck at the raft, and, going right over 

32 Shark Against Man 

my shoulder, slid into the raft. It took a bite out of C . One of the 

men and myself caught the shark by the tail and pulled him out of the 
raft. C became delirious and died about four hours later." 

In the South Pacific, potential shark victims did their own field re- 
search. Some rescued airmen claimed sharks could be driven off by 
sea-marker dye, a brilliant yellow preparation used to stain the water 
to facilitate rescue; others complained that sharks were attracted by the 
dye. A4any men put their faith in water-purifying tablets, the theory 
being that the chlorine in the tablets repelled sharks. 

At least two cases were recorded in which the survival manuals 
themselves were used to shoo away sharks. An airman downed in the 
Yellow Sea had nothing to do but pass the time reading a booklet attached 
to his lifejacket. After reading the booklet, Survival at Sea, he tore it up 
and threw the pieces in the water. A shark that had been following the 
airman's dinghy darted after the paper and never bothered the airman 

Over the South Pacific, five men bailed out of a crippled plane. They 
had no life-raft, and, as they trod water together in their lifejackets, 
sharks began circling around them. The airmen tried to drive off the 
sharks by kicking at them. Then, in disgust, they tore up two survival 
manuals and tossed the pieces away. The sharks left the men and swam 
off to examine the manuals. A short while later, the men were rescued. 
What happened to the sharks after digesting the message in the manuals 
is not known. 

Dr. George A. Llano, an Air Force research specialist, and an inter- 
nationally known student of shark attack, himself a life-raft survivor, 
gathered these reports in an exhaustive study of airmen who ditched 
their planes or who were shot down over the sea during the war. He 
examined the reports of 2,500 victims of wartime sea survival experiences. 
Surprisingly, only 38 reports mentioned actual contacts with sharks. 
But, as Llano grimly remarked, "When sharks are successful, they leave 
no evidence, and the number of missing airmen who may have succumbed 
to them cannot be estimated." 

Llano told of one Navy officer who survived a shark attack during the 
12 hours he floated in the water off Guadalcanal after his destroyer was 
sunk. At dawn, he said, he was floating in the water when he felt 
something "tickling his left foot." 

"Slightly startled," his account reads, "I . . . held it up. It was gush- 
ing blood ... I peered into the water . . . not ten feet away was the 
glistening, brown back of a great fish . . . swimming away. The real 
fear did not hit me until I saw him turn and head back toward me. He 
didn't rush . . . but, breaking the surface of the water, came in a 
steady direct line. I kicked and splashed tremendously, and this time he 

More Shadows Attack 33 

veered off me . . . went off about twenty feet and swam back and forth. 
Then he turned . . . and came from the same angle toward my left . . . 
When he was almost upon me I thrashed out . . . brought my fist 
down on his nose . . . again and again. He was thrust down about two 
feet . . . (he) swam off and waited. I discovered that he had torn off a 
piece of my left hand. Then . . . again at the same angle to my left . . . 
I managed to hit him on the eyes, the nose. The flesh was torn from my 
left arm ... At intervals of ten or fifteen minutes he would ease off 
from his slow swimming and bear directly toward me, coming in at 
my left. Only twice did he go beneath me. Helpless against this type of 
attack, I feared it most, but because I was so nearly flat on top of the 
water, he seemed unable to get at me from below . . . The big toe on 
my left foot was dangling. A piece of my right heel was gone. My 
left elbow, hand and calf were torn. If he did not actually sink his teeth 
into me, his rough hide would scrape great pieces off my skin. The 
salt water stanched the flow of blood somewhat and I was not conscious 
of great pain." 

(Though by now the shark had bitten his thigh, exposing the bone, 
the officer was more concerned with attracting the attention of a ship 
that was going by. He waved frantically. The ship spotted him and 
sped to his rescue scant seconds before he would surely have been 
devoured. Sailors aboard the ship began firing rifles at the shark to drive 
it away.) 

"A terrible fear of being shot to death in the water when rescue was 
so near swept over me," the officer later told his rescuers. "I screamed 
and pleaded and cried for them to stop. The shark was so close. They 
would hit me first." 

Llano discovered that every shark encounter produced an apparently 
unique pattern of behavior, by both the shark and the man who faced it. 
A pilot swimming toward an island after being downed in the southwest 
Pacific told of seeing four sharks come within 25 yards of him. He 
ignored them. "I made up my mind not to get panicky, but to keep 
plugging along until I got there, or the sharks got me," he said. He made 
it, unmolested by the sharks. 

Another pilot who parachuted into Philippine waters was shadowed 
by four sharks. As long as he kicked at them, they did not bother him. 
When he stopped to rest, one of them would make a pass at him. In 
one of these lunges, a shark grazed his legs. Even though blood colored 
the water around him, he was not attacked again. After eight hours in 
the water, he was picked up by a destroyer. 

"Men have spent hours in the water among sharks without being 
touched, and in view of the evidence some of the escapes seem little 
short of miraculous," Llano reported. "The one feature all accounts 

34 Shark Against Man 

illustrate is the fact that, though clothing cannot be depended on to 
prevent attack, sharks are more apt to bite a bare than a clothed body." 

The wartime experiences recounted to Llano and other researchers 
in the Air Force and the Navy provided science with some new informa- 
tion about shark behavior— and showed the absurdities of some old be- 
liefs about sharks. But man still has a lot to learn. 

Anyone who read of a shark attack, then went to the beach, felt a 
slight chill when the thought of a shark passed through his mind. The 
very terror of the shark, however, often suppresses reason. Shock, horror, 
revulsion, grief, panic, fright— these are the typical ingredients of a shark- 
attack story. They are ingredients that rarely produce a cool, analytical 
report of what actually happened. 

After an attack, if the victim is dead and the body is recovered, it 
may still bear some evidence. Pathologists may find some clues: a tooth, 
or a crescent of wounds that will indict a certain species of shark. If the 
victim lives, he may babble an incoherent story, or, as has happened 
several times, he may be able to recount, vividly, exactly what happened 
—but only during those few awful seconds when his Ufe or death hung 
on the whim of a shark. 

"All I remember about the actual accident," one victim said, "was 
that there was a movement on the surface and my left hand had disap- 
peared in a shark's mouth ... I closed my right hand and hit upward 
on the end of his nose . . . The fish obligingly opened his mouth and 
disappeared. I had not seen him come, nor did I see him go— even though 
we were only a foot or two apart." 

The man who told this story, Philip C. Diez of Honolulu, was at- 
tacked off the Island of Molokai in Hawaii in 1956. He was hauled aboard 
a nearby boat and taken to shore, where prompt medical attention saved 
his mangled arm. To Diez, the attack was as sudden and as inexplicable 
as a bolt of lightning searing a sunny summer sky. 

Rarely are there calm, competent witnesses who have seen the whole 
terrible tableau of an attack and have had the necessary background 
to interpret soberly what their shocked eyes have seen. There is on 
record, however, at least one such accumulation of eyewitness testimony 
about an attack. From this testimony has come a thorough study of a 
shark attack. But for this detailed report, a young man had to die, and 
several brave men had to risk death. 

The victim was Barry Wilson, aged 17, who was attacked by a shark 
off Pacific Grove, California, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of De- 
cember 7th, 1952. 

Barry's ordeal with a shark began, like many another, with a scream. 

More Shadows Attack 35 

His cry was heard simultaneously by his friend, Brookner Brady, Jr., 
aged 15, who was swimming close by, and John C. Bassford, who was 
sitting on a rise directly above the beach. Bassford, assistant manager 
of the Monterey (California) office of the Metropolitan Life Insurance 
Company, and an experienced skin-diver, was 30 yards from Barr\' 
when he heard the scream. Bassford saw the actual attack. An instant 
before Barry screamed, Bassford noticed that the youth seemed to be 
frantically scanning the water around him. Then, as Barry's face was 
transfixed in terror, a large shark appeared directly in front of him. 
While Bassford shouted a warning to Barry's companion, the shark struck 
Barry. Bassford saw Barry's body thrust straight out of the water up to 
about his thighs. 

Barry pushed both his hands against the shark, trying to free himself. 
But he fell sideways, still clutched by the shark, and was pulled under. 
Blood gushed upward and spread on the surface, forming a circle about 
6 feet in diameter. Barry suddenly bobbed to the surface in the middle 
of the circle, screamed again, and began beating the water with his hands. 

Now the shark appeared again, part of its back showing above the 
surface. It swept past Barry, then returned— and finally disappeared. 
Whether it struck Barr>^ again, Bassford didn't know. 

Although he had seen the attack, 15-year-old Brookner Brady would 
not leave his friend. He swam 50 feet to Barry's side and began towing 
him to shore. 

Meanwhile, four members of the Sea Otter Club, a skin-divers' group, 
swam out to Barry and Brookner. Three of the Sea Otters were trained 
investigators: Sergeant Earl Stanley of the 63rd Aiilitary Police Platoon 
stationed at nearby Fort Ord; Robert Shaw of the 313th Criminal In- 
vestigation Detachment at Fort Ord; and Frank M. Ambrosio of the 
California State Highway Patrol. The fourth Sea Otter was John L. 
Poskus, a mathematics and physics teacher at Monterey High School. 

The four rescuers brought with them a large inner tube which they 
managed to get around Barry's body and up under his limp arms. As 
they struggled in the water with the bulky tube, Barry suddenly lunged 
forward. Startled, Shaw looked around to see who had pushed Barry so 
violently. Shaw saw a shark, just as it turned away, and he realized 
what had pushed Barry. The shark had not given up its victim. 

Shaw and Ambrosio clung to opposite sides of the inner tube, pushing 
it, while Poskus pulled it with a nylon rope he had attached to it. 
Stanley kept to the back of the tube, supporting Barry's head to keep it 
from falling backward into the water. 

Through rough seas, the men headed for a small breakwater pier. 
It was a slow, arduous journey that lasted more than 20 minutes. And 

36 Shark Against Man 

during those 20 long minutes, the shark constantly hovered close by the 
rescuers and the victim they had snatched from it. Again and again— 
usually when the men stopped to prop Barry's slipping body back into 
the tube— the shark appeared. That is all it did. Appear. Never did it 
strike at Barry. Never did it make a feint. The men said its movements 
were slow, deliberate, almost leisurely. 

Somewhere during that nightmare, Barry died. He was dead when 
a waiting physician examined him the moment his body was carried up to 
the pier. The lower part of his right buttock and nearly all of the back of 
his right leg from the thigh almost to the knee was ripped away. His left 
leg bore deep slashes. 

By careful examination of the wounds— and by interviewing the 
rescuers, who had been able to observe the shark closely, ichthyologists 
concluded that the killer had been a Great White, 12 to 13 feet long. 
Rolf L. Bolin, an ichthyologist from Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific 
Grove, deduced that Barry had been bitten at least four times. 

"The corroboratory evidence of the witnesses," Bolin reported, "in- 
dicates the sequence: first, on the lower left leg from behind, which 
strike wounded and startled him; second, on the medial surface of the 
right thigh, when the shark approached him from in front, and, passing 
partially between his legs, lifted him high out of the water; third, on the 
upper left leg from the back and side, when Wilson struck in desperation 
at the water, and, finally, on the back and side of the right thigh, while 
he was being placed in the tube and when he was undoubtedly already 

The attack took place in water about 30 feet deep. The water tem- 
perature, which had been slowly falling from about 56° to 55 °F. for 
about a week, was hovering at around 55° at the time of the attack. A 
heavy surf, reaching to heights of about 8 feet, was running, and the 
water was somewhat murky— because of dirt washed into the sea by 
rain the night before and a heavy concentration of plankton. Visibility 
was limited to about 6 to 8 feet underwater. The day was partly cloudy. 

Those were the factual ingredients of the attack. Is there, somewhere 
among them, an answer to the riddle of why sharks attack men? 

If there is an answer to the riddle, it is certainly hidden in the se- 
quence of events that trigger an attack— the conditions in the water, 
the reaction of the swimmer, the responses of the shark to a complex 
series of causes and effects. But so many factors seem to be involved 
that no simple equation can be set up. With what is known about sharks 
today, no one can honestly say that a certain set of conditions will or 
will not produce a shark attack. Only one categorical statement can be 
made about sharks: they are unpredictable. 

Captain Cousteau, who has become one of the world's outstanding 

More Shadows Attack 37 

authorities on life beneath the sea, and has survived many confrontations 
with sharks, says in his famous book. The Sile?it World:^ "From the 
data, covering over a hundred encounters with many varieties, I can offer 
two conclusions: the better acquainted we become with sharks, the less 
we know them; and one can never tell what a shark is going to do." 

Dr. Gilbert Doukan, a doctor of medicine, and a pioneer in under- 
water hunting, exploration, and photography, is only a trifle more opti- 
mistic. Perhaps, he writes in his The World Beneath the Waves,'- the 
day will come when we will "know which sharks are the 'good' ones, 
and which are the ones whose aggressive and dangerous nature makes 
it advisable to give them a wide berth." 

But he adds: "Unfortunately, however, by the time we have suc- 
ceeded, in the bluish immensity of the water, in recognizing to which 
type a shark belongs, it may be too late. There are no charitable beings 
dwelling in the depths of the tropical waters who will considerately 
erect, in the appropriate regions, notices saying, 'Beware of the sharks.' " 

The enigma of the shark is not left unchallenged. Scientists of shark- 
menaced shores from Florida to Australia are seeking to unravel the 
mystery. It is frustrating work. The typical dangerous shark is large, 
difficult to handle, and not designed for laboratory study. It often lan- 
guishes in captivity, and whatever secrets of behavior it may reveal in a 
tank or a pen are muted by its apathy in imprisonment. 

With patience and skill, however, scientists are managing today to 
keep sharks in captivity and study them. Dr. Eugenie Clark is testing 
the behavior and the intelligence of large sharks of several species at the 
Cape Haze Marine Laboratory on Siesta Key, Florida. Recently, Dr. Clark 
delivered 37 Tiger shark pups by cesarean section. One survived. 
Thanks to constant, almost maternal care, the shark pup lived for 
three and a half months while Dr. Clark scrupulously observed it. She 
hoped to learn when the shark reached maturity— an elementary fact, but 
one that is not positively known, so scant is our knowledge of sharks. 

One morning Dr. Clark checked her shark pen and found the pup 
dead. It was killed, she believes, not by natural causes or by another shark, 
but by a vandal who sneaked into the laboratory compound, somehow 
caught the little shark, and beat it over the head. 

With the aid of an anesthetic known as M.S. 222, sharks can be 
captured and subdued, experimented on or examined— and then returned 
to the sea, unharmed. The anesthetic can knock out a 400-pound shark 
in 1 minute or less. It is merely squirted into the mouth of the shark 

1 Jacques Yves Cousteau, The Silent World (New York: Harper, 1953). 

- Dr. Gilbert Doukan, The World Beneath the Waves (New York: John de Graff, 


38 Shark Against Man 

Dr. Eugenie Clark holds a 34-inch Tiger shark ( Galeocerdo cuvieri ) , last of a litter 
of 37 born at the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory at Sarasota, Florida. The pup was 
apparently killed by a vandal. Dr. Clark had hoped that the sharks would live long 
enough to reach maturity and perhaps provide clues to the Tiger shark's ravenous 
eating habits. Wide World Photo 

(the spiracles of a ray) or sprayed over the gill slits. A simple water 
pistol can be used. The anesthetic has been used extensively in recent 
experiments on sharks under conditions as close as possible to their 
normal environment. 

Research has not usually been encouraged in areas sensitive to pub- 

More Shadows Attack 39 

licity about shark attacks. In 1958, however, the Sarasota County Chamber 
of Commerce requested the Florida State Board of Conservation to 
"determine as many facts as possible about sharks in Florida waters, their 
potential (statistical) danger to bathers and what measures or recom- 
mendations for precautionary measures seemed advisable." 

The Chamber's unprecedented request w^as not inspired by a sudden 
academic interest in ichthyology. In the summer of 1958, four shark 
attacks occurred within five weeks along a 60-mile stretch of beach 
between Sarasota and Sanibel Island on the lower west coast of Florida. 

On June 24th, Frank A. Mahala, aged 17, was walking toward shore in 
lYo feet of murkv water at Turtle Beach on Siesta Key. He was about 10 
feet from shore when, coming from behind, a shark grabbed his left 
leg. Mahala said he did not feel any sensation in his wounded leg. He 
thought he had been bitten only once. Actually, he had several wounds. 
This insensitivity to pain is typical in shark bites.* He was dragged to 
shore by relatives and taken to a hospital, where it was found that his 
left foot and leg were severely injured by what the attending physician 
described as teeth "shaped like the teeth of a heavy saw." The physician 
believed, from the nature of the wounds, that the shark had taken the 
youth's entire foot in its mouth, but had not been quite strong enough 
to bite through it. A4ahala recovered. 

On June 26th, Eric N. Cockerill, aged 59, was wading in water about 
3 feet deep on a sand bar some 30 feet from shore off Sanibel Island. 
Cockerill said that he felt a sharp pain in his right foot and realized 
that he had put it right into the mouth of a shark. He yanked his foot out 
of the water and saw the shark's jaws still locked around it. The shark 
let go and disappeared. Cockerill limped ashore, and eventually recovered 
the use of his foot. From Cockerill's description of the shark and from 
the pattern of the wounds, it was concluded that a "harmless" Nurse 
shark, about 7 feet long, had attacked him. 

On July 2nd, again at Siesta Key, Jon Hamlin, aged 22, was skin-diving 
about 10 feet from shore. He saw a "harmless" Nurse shark lying amid 
some rocks on the bottom. Hamlin grabbed the 5V2-foot shark by the 
tail with both hands and started making his way toward shore. Sud- 
denly, the shark twisted and sank its teeth into the inner part of Hamlin's 
left leg, just below the knee. Hamlin immediately released his grip, and 
so did the shark, which rapidly swam away. Hamlin recovered. 

The fourth attack occurred on July 27th, 9 miles north of where 
Frank Aiahala had been attacked on June 24th. Douglas Lawton, an SYo- 

* The authors have no explanation as to why some sharks can bite sizeable 
chunks of flesh from victims without apparently causing pain. This phenomenon 
is reported frequently in case histories of shark attacks. 


Shark Against Man 

Thirteen-year-old King Scherer displays a 28-inch Nurse shark { Ginglymostoma cir- 
ratum) which ripped his arm when he tried to grab its tail while he was skin-diving 
off Delray Beach, Florida. Despite the wound, he towed the shark to shore. Nurse 
sharks have long been classified as "harmless," despite the fact that they have often 
viciously, though not fatally, attacked swimmers. United Press International Photo 

year-old aspiring skin-diver, was playing with his 12-year-old brother 
in about 3 feet of water 10 feet from shore. He and his brother were 
wearing green face masks and green flippers. They were alone in the 
water. The boys' father and mother, an uncle and an aunt, were sitting 
near the water's edge. 

No one saw the shark glide into the water near the boys. When 
Douglas screamed and was pulled under, his brother rushed to him, and, 
in rapidly reddening water, supported his brother's head. Douglas' par- 
ents, aunt, and uncle ran into the shallow water. They saw the shark 
striking again and again at Douglas' left leg. So shallow was the water 
that the shark's head, clamped to the boy's thigh, broke the surface. Doug- 
las struck at the shark with his left hand. Slashed by the shark's teeth, 
his hand began to bleed. The boy's father pulled the shark by the tail, 
trying desperately to tear it from his son. Douglas' uncle held the boy 
by the shoulders and tugged against the shark. Douglas' brother was 
scratched, apparently by the shark's hide, as he held his brother's body. 
Unable to wrest Douglas from his family's grasp, and partially exposed 

More Shadows Attack 41 

in the shallow water, the shark floundered, then slithered into deeper 
water and vanished. 

A tourniquet was applied to Douglas' ravaged left leg. He was taken 
to a hospital, where his leg was amputated above the knee. 

Dr. Clark, whose marine laboratory was nearby, studied the four 
attacks. She interviewed victims, witnesses, and attending physicians. 
She showed them pictures of various species of shark. She decided that 
a Tiger shark had been the attacker. And, after discovering a sand bar 
off the attack site, she reconstructed what she believed to be the events 
leading up to the attack. 

"It is possible," she said, "that the shark swam over the sand bar earher 
in the day and then found itself trapped in the channel as the tide became 
lower; or it may have swum into the channel from either of the passes 
at the ends of Longboat Key. The victim and his brother were the only 
people in the water at the time and the shark might easily have detected 
the vibrations made by the boys slapping their foot flippers at the 
surface of the water. 

"The victim's feet and ankles were not as deeply tanned as the rest 
of his legs, as he usually wore shoes and socks when playing in the sun. 
It seems possible that the shark, attracted by the vibrations made by the 
flippers, saw the pale lower portion of the boy's leg and struck at that 
point, first causing the large wound on the foot [the victim's left flipper 
was lost, presumably during the attack] ." 

Her criminological study of the four cases led her to another possi- 
bility. "The shark which attacked Frank Mahala on June 24, 9 miles 
south," Dr. Clark said, "could conceivably have been the same species 
and possibly the same individual shark. The latter is considered doubtful, 
but . . . this could be an explanation for the unusual occurrence of these 
two unprovoked attacks so close together in time and location in an 
area where no similar attack had been reported in 38 years." 

The theory that a solitary, malevolent shark may be responsible for 
a series of adjacent attacks has been proposed by Dr. V. M. Coppleson, 
the Australian surgeon who has made a lifelong study of shark attacks 
in his home waters. Dr. Coppleson, who named these reputed marauders 
"rogue sharks," suggests in his book. Shark Attack,^ that the "rogue" 
is "a killer which, having experienced the deadly sport of killing or 
mauling a human, goes in search of similar game." He said the shark 
with a taste for human flesh is comparable to the man-eating lions and 
tigers which especially seek out only humans for prey. 

Dr. Coppleson once dramatically demonstrated his "rogue shark" 

•'' V. M. Coppleson, Shark Attack (Sydney, Australia: Angus & Robertson, Ltd., 


42 Shark Against Man 

theory in Australia. After reading a newspaper report that dogs were 
being attacked by sharks in George's River near Sydney, Coppleson 
suspected that a rogue shark was in the area. He became convinced 
when a 13-year-old boy was killed by a shark at North Brighton Beach, 
not far from George's River. The fatal attack occurred on January 23 rd, 
1940. That day Coppleson wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, 
warning that a man-eating shark was in the area and might strike again. 
Eleven days after his letter was published, a man was killed by a shark 
400 yards from the scene of the first attack. 

Several cases may give weight to the rogue-shark theory. The five 
attacks in New Jersey in 1916 conceivably could have been the work of 
a single shark. In 1931, three persons were attacked— two of them fatally 
—within nine days in the waters around Havana, and a solitary shark 
was blamed. Probably the most damning indictment of a rogue shark 
occurred in 1899 in Port Said, the bustling seaport at the Mediterranean 
end of the Suez Canal. 

Dr. William Bryce Orme, the port medical officer, reported that about 
8:30 on the morning of August 8th, 1899, a 13-year-old Arab boy was 
brought into the hospital. He had been bitten by a shark. An hour later, 
a 19-year-old boy was brought in, an arm and a hand torn by a shark. 
At 11:30 A.M., a 9-year-old boy was admitted. Part of his back had been 
ripped away by a shark. "None was bathing at the same place or the 
same time," Dr. Orme reported. "Many people have expressed the opin- 
ion it must have been one shark which bit all three boys and I think this 
very likely." 

Although it is possible that a single shark may be responsible for more 
than one attack within a short period of time or within a short span of 
coast, the rogue-shark theory cannot explain all shark attacks. In fact, 
nothing seems to! 

Every apparent key to the why of shark attacks unlocks one part of 
the mystery only to reveal another. Conditions that seem to trigger 
some attacks do not trigger others. Every statement advanced to cover 
a number of attacks has to be jettisoned when exception after exception 
is found to it. Here are three categorical statements often made about 
shark attacks— and here are the inevitable contradictions: 

Only large sharks attack men: On February 10th, 1955, while on 
the bottom of Trinidad Bay, near Trinidad, California, John Adams, a 
professional diver, was attacked by a hitherto "harmless" Leopard shark 
(Triakis semifasciata). It was 3 feet long. This is but one of several cases 
of small sharks attacking men. 

Sluggish, bottom-divelling sharks do not attack men: Two of the 
Florida attacks mentioned earlier were made by Nurse sharks (not to 
be confused with the Australian Gray Nurse), sluggish, bottom-dwelling 

More Shadows Attack 43 

sharks that have been described for years as "harmless." Nurse sharks 
are known to be responsible for several other attacks, especially on skin- 
divers. A similar, reputedly inoffensive shark, the Wobbegong of 
Australia, lost its benign reputation after biting off the foot of a fisher- 
man who apparently stepped on it. Admittedly, these "attacks" are noth- 
ing of the sort in actuality, any more than is the lashing strike of a dis- 
turbed sting ray. They are classified as "provoked attacks." 

Sharks do not attack when the water temperature is below 65 or 
10 degrees: The fatal attack on Barry Wilson off Pacific Grove, California, 
occurred in water whose temperature was 55°. On May 7th, 1959, a Great 
White mauled 18-year-old Albert Kogler while he was swimming about 
50 yards off Bakers Beach, near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. 
Kogler's left arm was nearly ripped off. His courageous companion, 
Shirley O'Neill, also 18, swam to his side and tugged him to shore, where, 
90 minutes later, he died. Within three hours after the attack, the tem- 
perature of the water was taken at the attack site. It was 55°. 

Another device that is used in attempting to explain shark attacks 
is '"''The List.'" This sets down exactly how many species of sharks are 
dangerous. Sometimes ''The Lisf has 8 names, sometimes 13. A cur- 
rently favorite number, used by the list-makers who are playing it safe, 
is 28.' 

The reader will not find ''The Lisf in this book. For one reason, no 
one knows how many species of sharks there are, let alone how many 
species are "dangerous." For another, many species are so similar that 
even an ichthyologist cannot distinguish between them unless he has 
one stretched out dead in his laboratory and can count the teeth, measure 
the distance between dorsal fins, and ponder other anatomical quid- 
dities. Few swimmers, seeing a shark lurking in the water, will be able 
to identify it correctly. Of the numerous attacks studied by scientists, 
only 5 per cent have yielded enough information on which to base an 
identification of the attacker. So "The Lisf is invariably drawn up on 
the basis of inadequate information. 

"In general, good advice about sharks seems to be not to trust any 
of them," a Florida ichthyologist says, and good advice it is. The Inter- 
national Oceanographic Foundation's assessment is: "All sharks are po- 
tentially dangerous. Some sharks, shorter than 4 feet, are not so danger- 
ous as the longer and larger ones, but one should beware of any shark, 
just to make sure." 

Concerned over the lack of dependable information on shark behavior 
and the scarcity of facts about shark attacks, scientists from 34 nations 
met at Tulane University in New Orleans in April of 1958. The con- 
ference, sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, led 

44 Shark Against Man 

to the creation of the Shark Research Panel (SRP). The SRP, affiliated 
with the Institute's Hydrobiology Committee, is supported by the Office 
of Naval Research, Cornell University, and the Smithsonian Institution. 
Members of the SRP are Dr. Perry W. Gilbert, Cornell University zool- 
ogist, who is chairman of the panel; Dr. Stewart Springer, Chief of the 
Exploratory Fishing and Gear Research Branch of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; Dr. Leonard P. Schultz, curator of fishes for the Smith- 
sonian Institution; Dr. Eugenie Clark, Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, 
Placida, Florida; Dr. Sidney R. Galler, Office of Naval Research; Dr. 
Robert W. Hiatt, University of Hawaii; Dr. James Snodgrass, Scripps 
Institution of Oceanography, La JoUa, California; and F. G. Wood, Jr., 
Marineland Research Laboratory, St. Augustine, Florida. 

The SRP maintains a Shark Attack File, a permanent, elaborately 
cross-indexed record of attacks from all over the world. When an attack 
is reported anywhere, the SRP moves swiftly to obtain all available in- 
formation. A physician in the area is asked to help, or one of the many 
ichthyologists cooperating with the Panel goes to the scene. If the victim 
survives, he is asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire. Whether he lives 
or dies, witnesses, policemen, hospital attendants, his physician, and his 
relatives are interviewed. 

The questionnaire and the interviews seek such information as the 
depth, the temperature, and the condition of the water; the time of the 
attack and what the weather was like; the color of the victim's clothing 
or bathing suit, and the color of his or her skin; the kind of shark and who 
identified it; the nature and treatment of the wounds; and how both the 
victim and the shark behaved before, during, and after the attack. 

From the answers to these questions, from the study of the cir- 
cumstances surrounding attacks, and from research into shark behavior, 
the SRP hopes to find enough evidence to settle several theories about 
what triggers an attack. High on the list of suspected causes of many 
attacks is the presence of blood. 

One moment the sea is empty of sharks. Then, a ship sinks or a plane 
crashes, and human blood, perhaps only in minute quantities, mingles with 
the sea. Suddenly, like wraiths instantly embodied, sharks appear. They 
circle warily. They hesitate to come close. Then one finds prey. Then 
another. Finally, the shark pack churns the water in a frenzy of feeding. 
Seemingly maddened by the intoxicating scent of more and more blood, 
the sharks gorge on any prey— including each other. 

Fishermen have seen such sights whenever shark packs attack a school 
of fish or a bleeding whale. When survivors of a ship or a plane disaster 
are the victims, the massacre may be so thorough that there is no one 
left to tell the tale. 

But from the lips of some survivors has come testimony to show that 

More Shadows Attack 45 

many men have leaped from sinking ships only to die in the jaws of 
sharks. When the troop transport Cape San Juan, torpedoed by a Japan- 
ese submarine, went down in the South Pacific during World War II, 
1,429 men were aboard. The merchantman Edwin T. Meredith saved 
448, and even during the rescue operation, great schools of sharks were 
still savaging the life-rafts and their occupants. A member of the Mere- 
dith crew later told what he had seen and heard: "Time after time, 
I heard soldiers scream as the sharks swept them off the rafts. Some- 
times the sharks attacked survivors who were being hauled to the Mere- 
dith with life ropes," A soldier who survived the torment etched one 
stark vignette from the hours of horror: "I was sitting on the edge of a 
raft talking to my buddy in the darkness. I looked away for a moment, 
and when I turned back, he wasn't there any more. A shark got him." 

The water need not be extensively bloodied to attract sharks. A 
drop of blood seems capable of alerting sharks to a potential feast. In the 
exhaustive investigation of the previously mentioned attack on Barry 
Wilson in California, scientists learned that just before the youth en- 
tered the water a veteran diver noticed that Barry's body bore several 
fresh scratches, inflicted when he skinned himself on a rock. The older 
man warned Barry that the infinitesimal amount of blood oozing from 
the scratches could attract sharks. Ignoring the warning, Barry dived into 
the water, and a few minutes later he was seized bv a shark. 

In another case, a skin-diver wearing an aqualung was swimming 
near the bottom when his nose began bleeding. Some of the blood was 
draining into his mouth and entering the exhaust tube of the aqualung, 
sending out a stream of blood-tainted bubbles. A small shark, apparently 
aiming for the source of the alluring blood, twice struck at the skin- 
diver's head and face, then darted away. The skin-diver was only slightly 

So sensitive is the shark's perception of blood in the water that Dr. 
Schultz of the SRP believes it is possible that a woman bather may be 
in more danger of a shark attack when she is menstruating. 

The presence of fish blood or struggling fish is a well-known shark 
attractant. Most often skin divers report the loss of the fish that they 
have captured. Some, less lucky, attract the sharks to themselves. On 
August 19th, 1962, a fisherman named Hans Fix was standing in waist- 
deep water off^ Padre Island, a thin strip of land that extends along most 
of the Texas Gulf Coast. Fix had a string of fish dangling from his belt. 
A shark, undoubtedly lured by the fish, rushed at Fix. In seconds, the 
shark bit the fisherman's right leg three times, nearly severing it. Thirty 
minutes later. Fix died in a hospital. 

When a single shark swoops into a group of persons, usually, it seems, 
one victim is selected, and the shark pursues that one, ignoring other 

46 Shark Against Man 

persons nearby. On May 19th, 1960, four teen-agers were clustered 
around an inflated inner tube about 150 yards oflr Hidden Beach, 6 miles 
southeast of Santa Cruz, California. They were members of a high school 
sophomore class who had earned a day oflr as a bonus for selling the 
largest number of school yearbooks. 

Playing around the tube were Nick Buak, aged 16; Larry Cronin, 15; 
Tessie Lettunich, 15; and Suzanne Theriot, 16. "Larry and Suzanne were 
swimming around the tube, and Nick and I were in it," Tessie later 
reported. "Suzanne screamed that something was on her leg. Larry 
grabbed her arm and Nick told me to pull my feet up onto the tube. I 
saw the blood, and the fin sticking out of the water. We started kicking, 
and Larry, holding Suzanne, clung to the tube." 

At this point, another swimmer, Edward Cassel, aged 17, reached 
the tube and helped get Suzanne ashore. Her left leg, which was later 
amputated, was mangled. But the shark had not touched any of her 
companions. (Similarly, none of the rescuers of Barry Wilson was touched 
by the lurking shark that followed them as they got him to shore.) 

A macabre tale of a shark's persistence in singling out a victim came 
out of World War IL An Esso tanker was fired upon and then torpedoed 
by a German U-boat. Two members of a Navy gun crew aboard the 
tanker were shot down at their battle stations when the U-boat shelled 
the tanker. After the vessel was torpedoed and the order given to abandon 
ship, a heroic seaman, Charles D. Richardson, dragged the two wounded 
men to the railing and dropped them over the side. Then he dived in 
after them. 

Richardson got one man on his back and told the other to cling to 
his neck. With his double burden, Richardson began struggling through 
the oil-coated water toward a lifeboat. He heard the man on his back 
moan and felt him begin to slip. Richardson turned to see a shark pulling 
at the man on his back. 

While the second wounded man still clung to his neck, Richardson 
pulled a knife and slashed at the shark, trying to drive it away. But the 
shark kept gnawing at the man on Richardson's back, as if determined 
on him alone for its victim. Ignoring Richardson and the second wounded 
man, the shark kept on tugging. The shark got its man. Richardson did 
save the other man, and they reached outstretched hands in the lifeboat. 
The valiant seaman later received the Maritime Commission's Merchant 
Marine Distinguished Service Medal for his heroism. 

In several Australian shark-attack cases, the strange pattern has been 
the same— a single victim selected from several bathers; an attack on 
him alone; his rescuers untouched. 

The theory has naturally arisen that the rescuers of an attack victim 
are somehow themselves immune from attack. But this theory has been 

More Shadows Attack 47 

demolished by careful Shark Research Panel investigations. Dr. Schultz 
reports: "Our records indicate that of 68 individuals who have gone to 
the aid of a victim of shark attack, 12, or 17.7 per cent, have been 
attacked. Hence, anyone going to the aid of a person being attacked is 
definitely placing himself in a dangerous situation." 

Are there no clues to what causes an attack? Is there no theory that 
will stand up under scientific scrutiny? 

Two factors that trigger attacks seem to be established beyond 

Blood, even greatly diluted and in small quantities, definitely attracts 
sharks. So does vomit, offal, garbage, and carrion. 

The behavior of an injured or inexperienced swimmer— irregular, 
frantic motions, panic— can set off a kind of signal that may embolden 
an approaching shark to attack. The behavior of the swimmer may sug- 
gest to the shark that something wounded is in the water and this attracts 
the shark just as would a fish \\Tithing on a hook. 

Perhaps the very chemistry of the body sets oflF this signal. When 
the senses of the human body detect a threat— such as a loitering shark— 
what is usually called "fear" manifests itself in a series of swift, involun- 
tary activities within the body. Epinephrine (also know as adrenalin) is 
secreted by the adrenal gland to step up the heart beat and raise the blood 
pressure, thus increasing the flow of blood to muscles the body may 
have to use to fight the threat its senses have detected. The blood vessels 
of the stomach, the intestines, and other internal organs suddenly con- 
strict to lessen the flow of blood so that more will be available to the 
muscles. The liver pulses with new, fear-inspired activity, converting 
glycogen into sugar to provide more fuel for the muscles. The pupils 
of the eyes dilate to increase the field of vision. The body trembles. 
Goose pimples erupt on the flesh. Cold perspiration breaks out on the 
brow. The body seems coated with cold sweat. The mouth goes dry. 
These manifestations of fear occur because the body's chemical ma- 
chinery is unbalancing the normal, orderly functions as it works at full 
throttle, preparing for an emergency. The body may emit a subtle 
(chemical) "aura" of fear. And it ?nay be this which lures the shark on 
some occasions. 

The list of conditions that may bring about a shark attack is 
seemingly endless: refuse strewn into the sea from sewers, abattoirs, 
and factories . . . the shark-trailed schools of migrating fish . . . sea- 
quakes and storms that disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecology, 
sending sharks foraging for new feeding grounds, perhaps closer to 
shore— and swimmers! Anything unusual, such as the impact of a plane 
plunging into the sea or the mass of sounds transmitted through the 
sea when a ship sinks, appears to attract sharks, and may trigger attacks. 

48 Shark Against Man 

But the conditions that lure sharks do not always of themselves 
trigger an attack; the effect of them may be, curiously, the opposite. 
The famed shark expert, E. W. Gudger, noted, for example: "At Key 
West, I have seen boys diving for pennies off the old Mallory Line dock, 
while 200 yards away, a dead horse drifting out with the tide was 
surrounded by four or five 10-foot Tiger sharks bucking and surging, 
trying to tear it apart so that they could eat it. The point is plain— the 
Tigers preferred dead horse to live boy." 

A man adrift at sea, far from land, never knows, however, when or 
whether a shark will be drawn to him. Two Air Force men parachuted 
into the Atlantic about 200 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, one night 
in 1953. The men. Sergeant Larry C. Graybill and Airman Second Class 
James B. Henderson, kept afloat by their Ufejackets, lashed themselves 
together back to back. They floated for 22 hours until they were rescued. 
And for most of those hours, they fought off sharks. 

"I remembered something I had read— if you hit them on the snout, 
they take off. It worked," Henderson said. 

Graybill was not so lucky. "Something rushed by me," he recounted. 
"I felt one hand in a mouth, so I took a poke at him to get loose." 

Graybill's hands were both cut and scraped by the sharks. Hender- 
son's forearms were raw with Portuguese men-of-war stings. Their blood 
in the water should have doomed them to the jaws of gore-crazed sharks. 
But no such mob-feeding frenzy occurred. Once more, sharks showed 
how unpredictable they could be. 

The greatest number of shark-attack victims have died during marine 
disasters. More people were killed by sharks in several World War II 
ship sinkings than were killed close to shore in all of recorded history. 
But, of those killed near shore, most have been in areas "where bathers 
are most thickly congregated," a Shark Research Panel report points out. 
However, it is thought that the danger is far greater in some of the 
open seas, and the proportion of attacks all over the world bears this out. 

Also, men have drifted for long periods in warm seas without seeing 
a shark or any other fish. We simply know nothing valid of shark, or 
even of fish migrations in any true scientific sense. 

How does a shark select one out of many bathers? What attracts a 
shark to one man or one woman? Is the attack only a wild, random raid? 
Or is the shark truly selective about its victim? 

Assuming that the shark is somehow selective, the list of possible 
attack-triggering factors is again a long one. A glittering ring, a flashing 
piece of jewelry, or a shiny brass beach-locker tag worn on wrist or 
ankle may lure a curious shark, just as dazzling manufactured fish lures 
are supposed to attract game fish. The color or pattern of a swimmer's 
bathing suit may be the lure. 

More Shadows Attack 49 

Because so many attacks occur near the beach in shallow water, the 
theory has arisen that some attacks may unfold in this way: 

Some distance from shore, while the bather is swimming in deep 
water, he is spotted by a shark, which silently glides near and sees a 
strange creature of fair size. Still curious, but cautious, the shark lurks 
unseen. As the bather makes for shore, the shark follows. Then, when 
the bather's feet touch bottom and he begins to wade in, to the shark's 
eyes it looks as if the strange, large creature it has been following has 
disappeared, and in its place are two smaller, slow-moving, inoffensive 
creatures that seem incapable of hostility— the bather's legs. Instinctively, 
the shark charges them. But, as it does, the bather kicks and thrashes the 
water. Other bathers rush to his aid, churning the water still more. No 
cod or sea turtle ever acted this way, so the shark, confounded and 
frustrated by this unfamiliar behavior of prey, hastily withdraws. 

This is only a theory. Scientists who have been studying sharks and 
shark attacks are not satisfied that any explanation can be made au- 
thoritatively for anything a shark does or does not do. We simply do not 
know enough about sharks or shark attacks. A clue is picked up here, 
another there. In one case, there is blood in the water and, though sharks 
are present, they do not attack the swimmer. In another case, there are 
no apparent conditions for bringing on an attack, yet an attack takes 
place. The paradoxes appear in attack after attack. 

Until the Shark Research Panel began its study, the facts about attacks 
throughout the world had never been analyzed so thoroughly. Now, 
finally, for the first time, an unprecedented world-wide analysis is being 

Searching through old medical journals, ships' logs, hospital and 
physicians' records, and newspaper files from all over the world, the SRP 
has tracked down information on 1,251 attacks that go back as far as 
the year 1580. Out of this accumulation of facts has come an analysis of 
790 shark attacks which the SRP felt were well enough documented to 
warrant study. The facts about the attacks were then reduced to these 

Of the 790 attacks, 599 were unprovoked. Of individuals attacked, 
408 died and 390 recovered. (Many records are incomplete; the total 
number of persons attacked is n^t known.) 

Most attacks (75.4 per cent) in Australian, North American, and 
African waters occurred in summer months. But in equatorial waters, 
attacks occurred equally in all months. This means that the so-called 
shark-attack season is nothing more than the human swimming season, 
whenever that happens to be. 

Adost individual attacks (62.2 per cent) occurred within 300 feet of 

50 Shark Against Man 

Most (70.2 per cent) occurred within five feet of the surface; 24.9 
per cent of the victims were in water more than knee-deep and no more 
than shoulder-deep when attacked. 

Most persons (63.3 per cent) were swimming or floating on the 
surface when attacked; 20.8 per cent had been wading; 19 per cent had 
been spear-fishing or carrying fish; 10.3 per cent had been standing close 
to where fish were being caught, or near swimming fish, just prior to the 

While 38.2 per cent of the attacks occurred while persons were alone 
in the water, 24.8 per cent had companions less than 10 feet away; 15.8 per 
cent were 10 feet or more from companions; 21.2 per cent were within 
a few feet of one other person. 

Most attacks (94.3 per cent) occurred during daylight hours. 

The fact that 5.7 per cent of the attacks occurred at night does not 
mean that a romantic moonlight swim is safer than a daylight dip. Ac- 
tually, the statistics tend to show a quite opposite picture when they are 
"interpreted. Most people swim during the daytime. Certainly, the number 
of nighttime swimmers is far less than 5 per cent of the number of day- 
light swimmers. Thus, proportionately, more nighttime swimmers are 
attacked than daylight swimmers. Nighttime is feeding time for many 
species of shark. In the tropics, knowledgeable natives usually will not 
enter the water at night, though they may swim unconcernedly during 
the day, even when sharks are present. In Cuba, fishermen catch Tiburon 
de Noche, the Night shark (Hypoprion signatus), in relatively shallow- 
depths, only after the sun has gone down. In the Caribbean, the Tiger 
shark is said to appear rarely near the surface during the daytime. The 
nocturnal feeding pattern begins when, in darkness, plankton rises. Small 
fish rise to feed upon the plankton. Bigger fish follow the small fish up— 
and last in the eat-and-be-eaten line comes the hungering shark. 

"Weather and other physical factors do not appear to be especially 
significant in triggering shark attacks," says Dr. Schultz, author of the 
SRP shark-attack report. "For example, the number of attacks when the 
sky is clear and the number when the sky is cloudy are about equal. 

"We have no evidence that a peculiar color of clothes or shade of 
skin is an important factor in stimulating sharks to attack. Bright, shiny 
objects, or contrasting light and dark objects, do attract the attention 
of sharks. However, our data are too scanty and unreliable at present 
to suggest significant conclusions about physical factors." 

Consider the question of color preference, for instance. Given a choice 
between a light-colored lure and a dark-colored one, a shark seems 
more attracted to the light one. Captain Young has stated that sharks 
apparently are lured more by the carcass of a white horse rather than 
that of a dark one. Dark-skinned native divers in tropical waters cover up 

More Shadoivs Attack 51 

A shark attack on a fishing boat in the Parramatta River in AustraUa is illustrated in 
an old Sydney newspaper. Shark attacks on boats are often provable by irrefutable 
evidence: teeth marks and sometimes teeth themselves, left in the damaged hull. 

From an old print 

the soles of their feet with black sandals before they dive beneath 
the surface. Greek sponge divers hide the palms of their hands in the 
armpits of their black suits when a shark appears near them. 

One of the most dramatic examples of a shark's apparent preference 
for white objects occurred in Nova Scotia in the summer of 1953. The 
episode took place off Fourchu on the southeastern coast of Cape Breton 
Island. Numerous fishing dories dotted the sea. One dory, about 12 
feet long, was painted white, and this one was haunted for several days 
by a huge shark. Many fishermen in the area saw the eerie drama— the 
white dory would put to sea, and, soon, trailing behind it, appeared a 
dorsal fin. Finally, on July 9th, as the dory was sailing alone, the shark 
suddenly charged it, smashing an 8-inch hole in the bottom of the boat. 

Both occupants of the boat were thrown into the sea. One man 
drowned. The other held onto the boat and remained in the water 
for hours until he was rescued. Neither he nor his companion was 
molested by the shark. (The companion's drowning was incidental to 
the attack. As far as is known, the shark did not go after his body.) A 
tooth found imbedded in the smashed boat was later identified as that 
of a Great White. William C. Shroeder, of the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, made the iden- 

52 Shark Against Man 

tification. Shroeder, an outstanding authority on sharks, estimated that 
the tooth had come from a Great White 12 feet long and weighing 1,100 
to 1,200 pounds. The Great White, one of the most dangerous species, 
certainly could have devoured either or both men, yet it appears that 
the target of its voracity was the only white dory in the area. 

If white attracts sharks, however, it would seem that the chances of 
survival are slim for the amazing Japanese ama, or "sea woman," who 
dives for pearls wearing a white jacket, a white skirt, and a white hood. 
These women believe that white repels sharks and jellyfish. Sometimes 
the women— and girls, for many an ama is a mere teen-ager— wear 
brightly colored garments, and wrap white towels around their long, 
jet-black hair. Their only equipment is a pair of goggles, a container 
for their catch, and a hooked iron knife to pry the akoya, the pearl- 
producing oysters, from rocks some 40 feet below the surface. They 
are ever on the alert for sharks, but, even in their gleaming white cos- 
tumes, they are rarely attacked. 

The claim that dark-skinned swimmers are immune to shark-attack 
has proved to be a fallacy many times and in many parts of the world. 
In the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia, for instance, 
when pearling was a major occupation for natives, attacks averaged three 
a year. A medical report on the attack experiences of Torres Strait divers 
noted that "a diver rarely fails to see at least one shark during any day." 
Sometimes, the shark attacked. After recounting several attacks and 
near-attacks, the medical report said: "These facts dispel a popular mis- 
conception that a shark will not attack a human being with colored 
skin . . . Actually more natives are attacked on the Australian coast each 
year than whites." 

One Torres Strait pearl diver, a black-skinned native named lona 
Asai, was diving in 12 feet of water one day when a Tiger shark charged 
him. The shark dived down on lona, and an instant later lona's head was 
in the shark's mouth. What happened next can best be told by lona, for, 
incredibly, he lived to tell this story: 

"When I turned I saw the shark six feet away from me. He opened 
his mouth. Already I have no chance of escape from him. Then he came 
and bite me on the head. He felt it was too strong so he swallow my 
head and put his teeth around my neck. Then he bite me. 

"When I felt his teeth go into my flesh, I put my hands around his 
head and squeeze his eyes until he let go me and I make for the boat. 
The captain pulled me into the boat and I fainted. They get some medi- 
cines from Jervis Island school-teacher." 

It took more than medicines to repair lona, whose story, incidentally, 
is thoroughly documented by hospital records and photographs. Nearly 
200 stitches were needed to sew up the two rows of teeth marks around 

More Shadows Attack 53 

lona Asai, a pearl diver in the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia, lived 
to tell the tale— and show the scars— after a shark seized his head within its jaws. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The 'Fishes of Australia by G. P. WTiitley, 1940 

his neck and jaws. Three weeks after he left the hospital, a small abscess 
developed on his neck. When the abscess was drained, in it was found 
one last bit of proof of lona's tale: the tooth of a Tiger shark. lona, 
aged 38 at the time of the attack in 1937, had been wounded by a shark 
19 years before. He was aptly named, for lona is the native version of 
one of their heroes of the Christian Bible, Jonah. 

The Shark Research Panel's quest for a solution to the mystery of 
shark attacks is leading down many trails. Water temperature, for in- 
stance, once seemed a likely factor in attacks, and the SRP did establish 
the fact that sharks attack most frequently in waters warmer than about 
65 °F. (Some experiments have shown that certain sharks seem to lose 
their appetites when the temperature drops to the low 60's.) 

When the coastal waters in temperate seas warm, the temperature 
change is often a harbinger of large, voracious sharks, roving from their 
tropical home waters. The sharks arrive in their new pastures just as 
these same seas are teeming with migrating fish— plus waders, swimmers, 
boatmen, water-skiers, spear-fishermen, and surfboarders. Great Whites, 
formerly reputed to be tropical, have been caught and spotted so often 
outside of the tropics in recent years that some ichthyologists believe 
that the sea's most dreaded sharks have become regular summer visitors 
to waters as far nortn as Nova Scotia. 

There has been one known fatal shark attack in New England waters, 
and it was almost certainly the work of a Great White. The victim was 
a 16-year-old Massachusetts boy, Joseph Troy, Jr., who was swimming 
on July 25th, 1936, about 150 yards oflr Hollywood Beach, just above 

54 Shark Against Man 

Mattapoisett Harbor in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, when a shark sud- 
denly seized his left leg and pulled him under. A courageous companion, 
Walter W. Stiles, who was 10 feet away, swam to the youth's aid. When 
Troy, pummeling the shark with his hands, broke the surface. Stiles 
was at his side. The shark released Troy, but remained nearby in the 
bloody water while Stiles supported the youth and managed to get him 
into a boat. The shark did not charge Troy again, nor did it attempt to 
molest Stiles. Troy died in a hospital five hours after the attack. 

The tropical sharks that are appearing in temperate waters are prob- 
ably following food— fishes deviating from normal haunts because of 
temperature shifts. Gradual, imperceptible changes in the temperature of 
the sea are apparently breaking down the arbitrary boundaries that once 
marked off the habitats of tropical, subtropical, and temperate marine 

There is now ample evidence that the seas are getting warmer, prob- 
ably as the result of an apparently global climatic change which can be 
perceived only by studying accurate, long-kept records. A recent U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service report showed, for instance, that the January 
sea temperatures near New Haven, Connecticut, have increased three to 
four degrees Fahrenheit since 1780; winter sea temperatures off Booth- 
bay Harbor, Maine, have gone up by about two degrees since 1930. 

At the same time, man has been venturing into colder waters. As 
Dr. Schultz points out in the SRP shark-attack report: "Divers with 
swim suits do enter colder waters, and three attacks have occurred in 
waters of 55 degrees along the California coast. We believe the area of 
the world in which shark attacks occur will be extended as more and 
more divers enter the domain of the predaceous sharks in temperate and 
subtemperate latitudes." 

Because of the relatively few attacks on skin-divers, many divers 
seem to believe that they have a kind of immunity from attack. Some 
divers have become so contemptuous of the shark that they ride sharks 
or hang onto their tails. The Shark Research Panel has issued a stern 
warning that those who cavort with sharks have chosen deadly play- 

"It would seem unnecessary," the SRP's Dr. Gilbert says, "to tell 
people not to grab the tail of a shark or to try to ride one. Yet, strangely, 
it is not. There are skin-diving clubs in California whose qualifications 
for membership require that you first must ride a shark. This we dis- 

The spear-fishermen in the underwater fraternity often unwittingly 
act as human shark lures. A spear-fisherman kills a fish. The water around 
him becomes laced with fresh blood. And when a shark flashes toward 
the exquisitely alluring scent of blood, it will usually charge toward the 

More Shadows Attack 55 

scent with a lust for any food in sight. Often the shark will snatch the 
catch off the spearman's weapon, or, as has happened, right off the line he 
has strung the fish on and tied around his waist. 

Sometimes, rushing past the speared fish, the shark selects for its 
meal the spearman himself. Leniord Higgins, an Australian spearman, 
was towing a large catch of fish one day on a line 15 feet long. This is a 
safety measure, for the belief is that a shark will grab the fish and, while 
it is devouring the fish, the man can drop the hne and get out of the water. 

But the shark that found Higgins that day ignored the catch and 
rushed for him, hitting him with such force that, wedged in the shark's 
maw, he was carried 6 feet beneath the surface. Higgins screamed. The 
shark let him go, and disappeared as silently as he had appeared. An 
18-inch wound ripped in his body, Higgins struggled to shore. He 
survived. He was not eaten, he believed, because the shark lunged for 
him so avidly that Higgins' body was jammed, edgewise, deep into the 
shark's mouth, and the shark was unable to snap its jaws shut. 

The shark itself has become the prey for skin-divers who seek out 
and fight it as big-game hunters track down and kill the lion and tiger. 

Two Australian spear-fishermen use what they call a "death needle" 
for their shark hunting. The men, Benn Cropp and Ron Taylor, claim 
to have killed as many as 50 sharks in a week-end with their needles, 
which are loaded with strychnine nitrate. 

"We shot and killed all types of shark— Blue Pointers, Gray Nurses, 
Hammerheads, Tigers, and Whalers," Cropp said in an interview. "Once 
the needle struck, it was curtains for them." 

The needle filled with the strychnine nitrate is attached to the point 
of a spear-gun projectile in such a way that, when the spear enters the 
shark, the needle forces the poison deeper into the prey's body. The 
men said that the poison could kill a shark in 30 seconds. 

Another shark hunter is Scott Slaughter, a former commercial spear- 
fisherman who became a Navy frogman. Slaughter's shark-killing career 
began off Key West, Florida, where he was spear-fishing for snappers 
and groupers. With a big snapper writhing on the end of his spear. 
Slaughter started for the surface. Suddenly, a shark swished across 
his legs, darted for the speared fish, and ripped off all but its head. Then 
still hungry, the shark whirled toward Slaughter. 

The shark charged just as Slaughter reached the surface, near his boat. 
Like a fencer, he thrust his spear toward the shark. It gobbled down the 
last morsel of the snapper as Slaughter clambered into the boat. Mo- 
ments later, he jumped into the water again. In one hand he held his 
spear, on which was impaled a 40-pound grouper he had caught pre- 
viously. In his other hand was a metal tube about 6 feet long. 

Using the grouper as a lure. Slaughter brought the shark closer to 

56 Shark Against Man 

him and, as the shark's teeth sank into the fish, Slaughter plunged the 
tube down on the shark's head, directly over its tiny brain. There was 
a muffled explosion, and a hole as big as a man's fist appeared on the 
shark's head. The shark was dead. 

Slaughter's weapon was a "powerhead," a lethal device attached to 
the end of the tube. The powerhead is a length of hollowed steel cylinder 
consisting of a chamber for a 12-gauge shotgun shell and a firing mecha- 
nism. The cylinder is plugged with petroleum jelly to seal it from the 
water. In firing the shell, the powerhead is jammed directly against the 
shark's head. The thrust drives the end of the shell against a firing pin, 
which detonates the shell. A massed charge of No. 8 shot is propelled 
through the petroleum jelly seal and right into the shark; it meets no 
resistance from water, for its passage is directly from the cylinder to 
the shark. The charge smashes into the shark's brain, usually killing it 

If Slaughter misses the brain, he blows a hole in the side of the shark, 
but the gaping wound hardly slows down the shark. Bullets fired from 
the surface at sharks beneath the surface are deflected by the water and, 
even if they penetrate the shark's hide, they do not have the destructive 
power of the massive shotgun shell charge. With the powerhead, 
Slaughter says he has killed more than 100 sharks, including Hammer- 
heads and Great Whites. 

Armed with powerheads like his, more and more underwater hunters 
are tracking down what they see as the ultimate game— and they are 
exposing themselves to the ultimate danger. Yet, even when they are 
stalking the shark, even when they are attacking it, the hunters have 
rarely been charged by their prey. These experiences have led many 
skin-divers and spear-fishermen to insist that the shark is a timid creature, 
whose ferocity has been vastly overrated. 

Then comes a day like August 15th, 1959. On that day, James C. 
Neal, SCUBA diving about 7 miles off Panama City, Florida, followed 
a guide cable down to rocks on the bottom. He was never seen again. 
All that was found was his bloody, tooth-marked clothing and gear. . . . 
"Sharks are one of the sea's greatest dangers," a veteran Ceylon skin-diver 
says, "because they are more a potential than an actual danger to a diver, 
which leads to a disregard for them that can be fatal." 

Michael Lerner, president of the International Game Fish Association, 
adds his voice of caution: "We feel that fishermen, boatmen, swimmers 
and skin-divers are becoming increasingly careless about the danger of 
attack by sharks and barracuda, owing partly to the fact that several 
recent published reports have tended to discount the ferocity of those 
fishes. It may be true, especially of sharks, that certain species do not 

More Shadows Attack 57 

appear dangerous in some locations. But it also is a proven fact that some 
of those 'harmless' breeds have attacked, wounded, even killed human 
beings in other areas." 

The foolhardy diver who has become contemptuous of sharks, be- 
cause those he has met retreated from him, insists that sharks are cow- 
ardly. The wise diver who has had the same kind of experience with 
shy sharks says merely that sharks are unpredictable, for he knows that, 
in his next confrontation, it may be he that flees, or attempts to flee. 

There is absolutely no way of knowing what a shark will do when 
it encounters a swimmer— or a boat. Boats and rafts have been bumped, 
bitten, smashed, capsized— even hoarded by sharks. There are several 
well-documented cases of sharks leaping into small craft where, thrash- 
ing their tails and gnashing their teeth, they have been as dangerous 
and difficult to subdue as they are in the water. 

Natives of the Gilbert Islands ordinarily fear only one kind of shark 
—the rokea— and it is feared because of its vicious attacks on canoes 
and the men in them. If a fisherman is hauling in a tuna, say, and it 
comes up half-eaten, he will cut the line to give the rest of the fish to 
the rokea, a deep sea shark. Otherwise, the rokea will come after it. 
Unfortunately, its scientific name is unknown, but it is not the Tiger 
shark (Galeocerdo) which the natives know well, and of which they 
are only normally cautious. 

Superstition? Sir Arthur Grimble, a former British administrator in 
the Gilberts, in his book. We Chose the Isla?ids,'^ gives an eye-witness 
account of just such an incident. 

"We heard a thud and a crack from a craft not sixty yards off," he 
wrote. "As we looked up, there came another thud; a vast tail had 
frothed from the water and slammed the canoe's side. A second later, 
the whole fish leapt, and there was a third smashing blow. We saw the 
hull cave in and start sinking. The rokea leapt again, and one of the 
two fishermen on board was swept off the foundering deck by that fright- 
ful tail. We saw him butchered as we raced to rescue the other man . . . 
The survivor, a boy of seventeen, confessed with tears that he was to 
blame; he had whipped a bonito aboard as a rokea was after it. The 
demon's attack followed in the very next instant." 

Dr. Coppleson estimates that as many people in Australia are injured 
by sharks "bumping" them or their surfboards as are injured by being 
bitten. Why sharks bump into surfboards or boats is not known. One 
theory is that they are curious, and somehow satisfy their curiosity by 
charging the object. 

One of the more curious shark-boarding incidents on record occurred 

* Sir Arthur Grimble, We Chose the Islands (New York: Morrow, 1952). 

58 Shark Against Man 

in Australia. Three amateur fishermen were in a 16-foot dinghy off 
Seaholme, Victoria. For one of the fishermen, Doug Miller, it had not 
been a pleasant day. A violent attack of seasickness had left him a 
wretched man. Miller had collapsed in the bottom of the boat, wondering 
why he had ever taken up the miserable pastime of fishing, when . . . 
but let him tell it: 

"One minute I was lying there, wishing I was dead. I felt terrible. 
Suddenly, I heard a scream and a yell and an eight-and-a-half-foot Gray 
Nurse landed fair on top of me. For a second, I didn't know what it was. 
Then I knew and nearly blacked out. I fought to get to my feet, and 
as soon as I did I was knocked down by its tail. Three times I stood up 
and three times I landed back on the bottom of the boat. I felt like 
going overboard, but I couldn't leave the other two." 

After making the most rapid recovery from seasickness ever recorded, 
Miller sprang to the aid of the other two fishermen, and together they 
finally vanquished the shark by beating it over the head with the boat's 

To dive from a boat at sea or even in harbor is possibly to invite 
shark attack, and similarly a possible danger is the sport of being towed 
in the water by a moving ship. When a man is being towed he may look, 
to a shark at least, Uke a fish. In 1959 alone, the SRP reported 12 unpro- 
voked "contacts," including boats, life-rafts— and water-skiers. Twelve 
similar incidents were reported in 1960. Sharks attacked four boats in 
1961, according to a SRP report issued in June, 1962. In one case, the 
report said, "a dinghy with two occupants was used as a toy by a school 
of sharks which swirled it around and around." 

"Our data reveal," the SRP also says, "that it is dangerous to dive 
off piers, boats and ships at anchor in shark-infested bays and lagoons, 
for we have several records of divers who were attacked under such 
circumstances the moment they entered the water." 

The Shark Research Panel's report on shark attacks in 1961 says that 
sharks made 30 unprovoked attacks on humans during 1961, injuring 
31 persons, 6 of them fatally. The attacks listed were in waters off both 
coasts of the United States, off Hawaii and other Pacific islands, Bermuda, 
Australia, South and East Africa, the Philippines, in the Mediterranean 
Sea and the Persian Gulf, and 150 miles up the Limpopo River in East 
Africa. Though the attacks span a large part of the world, none is listed 
from South or Central America, the East Indies, or other coasts of 
Southeast Asia. Dangerous sharks are known to be plentiful in these 
areas, and attacks are known to occur, but most of the sharks' deeds go 

Part 2 

7 Man Against Shark 

chapter 3 

Captain Shark-Killer 

The boy was 10 years old on that sum- 
mer's day. A friendly fisherman had 
taken the boy out to sea with him, and now the boat was sailing over 
the rippling forests of kelp that cover the ocean floor at La JoUa, Cali- 
fornia. Fascinated by the silent, shimmering beauty that swept before 
him as he stared down through the clear water, the boy at first didn't 
hear the fisherman's call. 

"Bill!" the fisherman shouted again. "Quick! Look over the other 
side!" The boy darted to the other side of the boat and looked over the 
gunwale. There, gliding through the kelp a few feet below the surface, 
was a long, sinuous fish that looked like a graceful shadow amid the 
tendrils of kelp. The fish was as long as the 20-foot boat. "That's a shark, 
Bill," the fisherman said. Again, the boy didn't hear. For he was once 
more enthralled by a look at beauty. But this was a beauty of strength 
and boldness, and wrapped in that beauty, unseen, was a thing of terror. 

William Young, in 1885, had seen his first shark. In the many years 
that were to follow, in the many places where he would pursue the shark, 
William Young would never forget that shadow in the kelp beds of La 
Jolla . . . 

In 1900, Bill Young and his brother Herb sailed away from their home 
in California. Lured by a lust for adventure and fortune, they shipped 
aboard a two-masted schooner bound for the Hawaiian Islands. They 
found work there, but it was not exactly adventurous. They signed a 
contract to haul to sea the garbage of the city of Honolulu. This was 
the humble beginning of what would be a prosperous waterfront 
business. It was also the beginning of Bill Young's lifelong passion for 
catching sharks. 

The refuse from the city dump frequently included the carcasses of 
horses. Whenever these carcasses were hauled to sea and dumped, hordes 
of sharks would suddenly appear. In their frenzy to devour the off^al, 
the sharks would turn the waters into a maelstrom of blood and snapping 

This was not beauty. This was the shark with its grandeur stripped 
away. So, there in the bloody seas off^ Honolulu, an older, wiser William 
Young saw the other aspect of the shark, the thing of terror beneath 


62 Maji Against Shark 

the beauty. But the terror did not repel him, as it had repelled so many 
men before him. Instead, it challenged him. He was seized by a desire 
to conquer the shark, to learn its ways, to hunt it down. The shark be- 
came his Moby Dick, an ageless, dreaded, murderous demon spawned of 
legend and fact. It could be attacked, but never destroyed; studied, but 
never understood; captured, but never tamed. 

On the waterfront of Honolulu, where sailors spun their tales of sharks, 
and in native huts, where squatting Kanakas retold their myths of the 
mano, Young learned about the shark. And, in the blood-frothed waters 
of the shark orgies upon the carrion. Young killed sharks. He became 
known first as "Sharky Bill," a nickname that carried a trace of disdain 
for this man who seemed always to be asking about sharks, listening to 
shark stories, or talking about sharks. Soon, though, as stories about his 
prowess as a shark-killer circulated in the islands, he earned a title that 
was bestowed in awesome respect. They called him Kane Mano, "The 
Shark Hunter." 

Before he killed his last shark— at the age of 70— Captain William 
Young had hunted sharks from Honolulu to Australia, from Florida to 
French Somaliland. At the age of 87, he could look back on 60 years 
of shark hunting— years in which he killed 100,000 sharks, often at the 
rate of 20 or 30 a day. At 87, he was still Kane Mano: "In Kon-Tiki, a 
book by a good friend of mine, Thor Heyerdahl, he told of catching 
sharks by the tail with his hand. I've never tried that game before, but 
I'm sure I can do it, even at 87. "'^ 

The log of Kane Mano has many entries. It spans many years and 
many seas. It recounts the lives— and deaths— of many sharks. Most of all, 
it tells^the many adventures of a unique man. Here are some leaves from 

When one hears the word shark, a powerful mental image is generated of a 
cold-blooded rover of the deep, its huge mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth, 
swimming ceaselessly night and day in search of anything that might fall into 
the cavernous maw and stay the gnawing hunger which drives the rapacious fish 
relentlessly on his way. A terrible creature, afraid of nothing. The savage fury 
with which he attacks, the rage of his thrashing when caught, his brutal insensi- 
bility to injury and pain— all well merit the name of Afreet, symbol of all that 
is terrible and monstrous in Arabian superstition. 

The shark is this, but I have found him to be a thing of endless paradoxes, 
too— sinister enigma, which one time may kill a man and another time flee from 
a man as if in fear; a cunning adversary which may trick a fisherman one day 
and a loutish brute which may blunder into a net another day; a creature of 
consummate grace and a beast of loathsome habits. 

^ Though he lived to see this book written. Captain Young died before it was 
published. Death came to Kane Mano on October 31, 1962. 

Captain Shark-Killer 63 

I have known the shark in many seas, but I do not know the shark. No one 
does. After havang hunted him, killed him and found uses for his products 
throughout the world, I do feel qualified to talk about him. (I know that a 
shark should properly be addressed as it, but to me the shark will always be a 
he, for he has as much character and personality as any man I have ever met.) 

As I sit here in my snug harbor in Miami, writing my Log of time past, 
the memories of thousands of sharks parade through my mind. Most of them 
are dead. Some may still be alive, for no one knows for sure the lifespan of a 
shark. Others live in a curious way: in the sharkskin shoes I wear; in the 
mementoes that surround me— the dried gaping jaws, the thousands of teeth I 
have fashioned into jewelry to sell to tourists; the film I once made; in my 
book, Shark! Shark/^, published decades ago; and now these leaves from my 
shark-hunting Log: 


This is where it all began, where the shark and I first met in combat. The 
Islands were quiet then, and life was simple. It was 1900, and Pearl Harbor was 
not vet a name that would live in infamy. Sailing vessels filled the harbor, and 
one motorboat, a 22-footer with a 4-horsepower gasoline engine, chugged 
around. That boat, the Billy, the first motorboat to enter Pearl Harbor, be- 
longed to my brother Herb and me. (I still have a piece of the red-white-and- 
blue ribbon that was stretched across the harbor the day it opened.) 

Soon we were prospering. We bought several other boats for a variety of 
jobs— diving and salvage work, running passengers from ships to shore, carrying 
pilots, customs officials and immigration inspectors to incoming ships. We had 
come a long way from those first days when all Young Brothers, Ltd., did was 
haul garbage out to sea. 

And always there were sharks. '"''Mano! Afawo.'— Shark! Shark!" the Kanakas 
would call as they spotted the sharks circling around ships in the offshore 
anchorage awaiting the free meals the ship provided when garbage was thrown 
overboard. Often the clear water was alive with hungry sharks. 

As I watched the shark-swirled waters one day from the deck of my boat, 
I was seized by a sudden, overpowering desire to catch a shark. 

I told one of the English-speaking Kanakas aboard that I wanted to catch 
a shark. "Mano?" he asked, looking at me curiously. "Yes, 7nano,'" I replied. 
The Kanaka disappeared in the direction of the galley and soon returned with 
a big piece of salt pork, a stout line and a great hook. He was jabbering excitedly. 
''''Hana paa mano— we'll catch a shark! He is much ivikj ivikj kau kau haole—he 
will eat a white man, very, very quick! Pz/az/- rotten— he is no good!" 

He and another Kanaka dropped the baited hook over the side. The moment 
it struck the water it was seized. Mano was hooked! One of the boys borrowed 
a meat hook from the cook, got into a small boat alongside and hooked the 
shark through the mouth. The line was run through a boat davit and hauled 
up. The boat falls shivered as the shark thrashed at the end of the line. Quickly 

2 William E. Young, with Horace S. Mazet, Shark! Shark! The Thirty-Year 
Odyssey of a Pioneer Shark Hunter (New York: Gotham House, 1934). 

64 Man Against Shark 

another line was secured around his tail. Now the shark hung suspended within 
reach of the rail. 

Swish! The glint of a big knife caught my eye as a native hacked oflF the 
shark's tail. The rest of the boys aboard danced around shouting curses at the 
mutilated enemy. Suddenly, the falls were slacked off, the boy in the boat cut 
the hook from the mouth and the shark was free— free to die a cruel death. For, 
if he were not immediately devoured by other sharks, he would soon weaken 
from loss of blood and die. This one died at the jaws of other sharks. Killed by 
shark and man, by hunger and vengeance. 

Even then, I wondered if there could be some commercial use for sharks. 
The thought faded away; I had more pressing business there in the islands with 
our various shipping enterprises. But the thought— and the persistent desire to 
catch sharks— never left me. 

It was off Honolulu one day that I saw the biggest shark in the sea, the 
Whale shark. It was about 35 feet long, and it seemed to be suspended in the 
water, no more than 2 fathoms below the surface, right next to our small boat. 
I could see its checkerboard skin so clearly I felt I could almost lean out of the 
boat and touch it. 

The presence of our boat did not disturb this huge, sluggish shark. But my 
brother and I were practically holding our breath while we decided how to 
take him. We were determined to bring him in. Then, both of us realized at 
almost the same moment the awful truth. We had left port without a harpoon! 
We didn't have so much as a marlin spike aboard. So we just drifted there 
and after a while the biggest shark I have ever seen slowly swam out of my 
sight. Once again, the old adage held true: the biggest ones always get away. 

My curiosity about sharks and my frequent harpoonings of sharks that 
attacked the dead horses we hauled to sea eventually led to a sideline for Young 
Brothers, Ltd.— shark hunting. 

A shark hunt usually began with a phone call to our boathouse. "Hello, 
Young Brothers? Is Bill there— Sharky Bill. Well, tell him there's a party at 
the hotel who wants to go shark fishing." 

When I got a call such as that, I would telephone the Humane Society and 
offer to take a condemned horse off their hands. 

The shark hunt begins. The poor old horse is led to the end of the wharf 
and put out of its misery. It tumbles into the water at the end of a stout line. 
The fishing party arrives from the hotel and boards the boat. The fishermen 
look anxiously at a crewman honing a harpoon. 

Not far out of the harbor one of the boys slits the carcass up the belly. 
Soon the water is saturated with the blood and scent of fresh-killed prey. We 
stop the boat. The fishermen are tense, not quite sure what is going to happen 
next. We tell them to keep quiet. They don't utter a sound. All that can be 
heard is the sound of the waves lapping at the sides of the boat. The sea is 
still, except for the bobbing body of the horse. 

I can see, far off, a shadow in the water, zig-zagging ever closer to the 
surface and a black triangular fin cuts the water above it. Now it is the fin that 
is zig-zagging. It circles the carcass. A couple of times. A head appears forward 
of the fin and a cold, expressionless eye can be seen. It is the eye of a shark. 

Captain Shark-Killer 65 

The shark, quite suddenly, is gone. No shadow. No fin. Nothing. The sea 
is deserted— at least by life. For the dead horse still floats there, awaiting its fate. 

In twenrv' minutes or so, the shark is back. This time four or five other sharks 
accompany him. They prowl about, slowly circling closer and closer to the 
carcass. Occasionally, they nose it. But they seem hesitant, cautious. 

If this were a white horse they would have attacked it long ago. But a dark 
horse does not quickly arouse the shark's hunger. 

Suddenly, they strike! The first shark bites a huge piece of flesh from the 
corpse's neck. Then the second darts in for a bite. Then the third. The water 
is swirling now with hungry, rapacious sharks bathed in the blood of their prey. 
A gleaming skeleton is rapidly appearing where moments before there was the 
outline of a horse. Slowly, steadily, I draw the line attached to the horse closer 
and closer to the boat. Oblivious to the boat— and the gaping amateur fishermen 
aboard her— the sharks follow the corpse, still feeding on it savagely. 

I hand the line to one of the boys and turn my attention to the fishermen. 

"Here," I tell one of them, "hold the harpoon like this. Then strike down 
into the neck or gill of the biggest one. And don't fall overboard!" 

The fisherman grasps the harpoon tightly with one hand— and with his other 
hand holds onto the gunwale. He is visibly shaking, he looks as if he is getting 
seasick, and he cannot tear his wide-open eyes from the seething water. So 
close is the orgy of feasting that blood-flecked spray occasionally showers the 

"All right," I shout to the harpoon-holder. "Take that big one— the one that 
is biting right now!" 

The fisherman pales— and freezes. 

"You, you take it, Captain," he says in a quavering voice. "I don't think I— 
Here, I might miss—" 

I take the harpoon and hurl it. The iron strikes home into the forebody of 
the biggest shark! Immediately, he spews forth all he has eaten. Instantly, this 
is devoured by the other sharks. They will turn on him next, so he thrashes a 
moment, and then sounds. 

Away goes the boat, towed by the wounded shark. Five minutes, he tows. 
The scene of the bloody feast is far behind us. Ten minutes, he tows. The fisher- 
men look worried. They wonder how long this can go on. 

I feel the line. It gives the jerks that signal the fact that the shark is rolling— 
and thus done for. Too weak to pull against the line, he can only twist over and 
over, trying to get loose, but only winding the line about his body. 

I begin to pull in the line, keeping a steady pressure on it. The wet slack 
comes in, fathom after fathom. Then, out of the sea, his great jaws still gnashing, 
his arrogant eye still seeing, comes the shark, a 12-footer, vanquished but 

Swiftly, he is hooked through the mouth as he is drawn alongside the boat. 
He is securely held now, but he is thrashing, beating the water with his tail 
and drenching us with spray. We get a line around his tail and make it fast to 
a stern cleat. A sharp thrust from a whale-spade through the brain finishes him. 
The harpoon and hook are cut loose, and, with our first catch under our belt, 
we go after his companions. 

66 Man Against Shark 

They are still attacking what is left of the corpse, snapping scraps from it 
and dashing after any piece which is torn away. 

We get another one, with a harpoon through the gill. There is no fight in 
this one, stabbed in a vital spot. He is quickly brought alongside and dispatched 
with the whale-spade. 

We return home with our two trophies in close tow. The fishermen try to 
look casual as we pull up to the wharf. One of them is nonchalantly wiping 
shark's blood from a harpoon. They try to look modest. But they can't help 
swaggering a bit as they walk off the boat. After all, they just caught two 
sharks, didn't they? 

And so it went. Day after day, we killed sharks. Except for the Chinese 
merchants who magically appeared on the wharf and hacked off the shark's fins 
for shark fin soup, no one seemed to have any use for the sharks, however. I am 
by nature a thrifty man, and I brooded about this waste. Wasn't there some 
commercial use for sharks? Couldn't a use be found for their incredibly tough 
hide? Wouldn't their huge livers give up oil as medically valuable as cod liver 

No one in the Islands had the answers. Though people talked a lot about 
sharks there, few knew very much about them. 

I remember one day I caught a beautiful Tiger shark who was carrying 
42 young. I packed her and the babies in an ice-lined trough and exhibited the 
whole family at the fair in Waikiki. I charged ten cents admission (collecting 
$1,500 in a week, incidentally), and, as the viewers filed past, I answered their 
questions. One of the visitors was a physician. He looked the Tiger and her 
pups over very carefully, and then called me aside. 

"I'll tell you something about that mother Tiger shark that you don't know," 
he said. 

"All right, Doctor," I replied, "what is it? I know where to find them and 
catch them, but you can probably tell me something else." 

"Here," he said, pointing to the Tiger's mouth, "see this thin membrane 
running around the jaw over the teeth? You don't know what that's for, do 

"No," I honestly replied. 

"You're a good fisherman, all right, but fishermen don't learn much about 
anatomy. As a matter of fact, this membrane is such an oddity, you won't find 
out anything about it in a textbook. But I happen to know that is where the 
Tiger shark nurses her young." 

"Nurses her young!" I exclaimed. "You mean to tell me that you think . . ." 

"Think?" he interrupted. "I know. The baby Tigers are born alive— you 
know that; you've seen them. Well, inside of the Tiger shark, when they want 
to feed, the babies come forward to this membrane and get their food by nursing 
at this membrane. It has to be the answer. Captain. After all, there is no 
placenta connecting the young to the mother. So obviously they live in a free 
state inside her, and . . ." 

I let him spin his ridiculous theory, but I wasn't listening. It simply amazed 
me how little was known about the shark, even by so-called scientists. 

It was not until 1920, however, that I had an opportunity to satisfy my 

Captain Shark-Killer 67 

curiosity about commercial uses for sharks. And I was to devote my life to this 

I left the islands in 1920 for a change of scene in the States. Footloose, restless 
for a challenging job, I wound up in New York City. I was walking up Broad- 
way one day when I happened to glance in a shoe store window. I saw a pair 
of shoes with sharkskin tips! I all but ran into the store to find out about the 

The sharkskin trail eventually led from the shoe store to Newark, New 
Jersey, where the Ocean Leather Company headquarters were. They were 
pioneering in the manufacture of shark hides. Shark-catching stations were 
being set up in Florida and North Carolina, I was told. And, before you could 
say "Jack Shark," I was on my way to one of the stations. 

In the years to come, I would journey throughout the world in search of 
sharks. This would be my job, my vocation, my way of life. 

At each way station in this world-wide pursuit of the shark, I would have 
adventures and I would learn more and more about the wily shark. 

I have put down, in the pages that follow, some of my adventures among the 

Big Pine Key, Florida 

I've been convinced for years that sharks are man-eaters. The natives in the 
Pacific, the old-time seafarers and many of my friends hereabouts believe it. 
But the unbelievers— most of whom have never seen blue water, let alone a 
shark— demand proof. I got them their proof today. 

Walter Johnston— he calls himself Pete the Shark— and I have been catching 
shark here and skinning them for their hides. We've been doing pretty well. 
We go out in the morning, make a catch, and then come in to skin them at the 
end of the day. 

Today, while skinning a 12-foot Brown shark, I noticed an odd protuberance 
on the stomach wall, so I slit the lining a bit. The round end of a bone came out. 
I grasped it with one hand and cut a little more so I could pull it out. 
It was what was left of a human right arm and hand. 

The arm was in a good state of preservation, indicating that it had been in 
the shark only a short time. The palm of the hand and fingertips were wrinkled, 
as they would be in life if immersed for a long time in water. I concluded it was 
the hand of a man who had not engaged in manual toil. It bore neither rings 
nor tattoos. The arm to the elbow was not mangled, but from the elbow to the 
shoulder joint all the flesh had been torn away. I knew I had to search the 
shark more thoroughly to see if there were any more clues to this poor devil's 
identity. I carefully probed and found six fragments of flesh— and a piece of blue 
serge cloth, about 12 by 18 inches, apparently ripped from a man's coat. 

I photographed my gruesome find, and Pete amputated the hand and put it 
in a glass of alcohol. 

I called the coroner at Key West. While he was on his way to Big Pine Key, 
I made some inquiries and learned that a plane had gone down the day before 
about 20 miles from Key West. A man named Atkins was reported missing. 
He had a blue serge coat on when he was last seen alive. 

68 Ma?i Against Shark 

San Juan, Puerto Rico 

Two years ago, I found a hand in the belly of a shark. Yesterday the hand 
came back to haunt me. 

I had come here on a little vacation from shark-hunting. On the steamer on 
the way over, I was chatting with a man and his wife at dinner, and, as it 
usually does with me, the conversation soon turned to sharks. I showed the 
couple a few of the shark's teeth I usually carry to illustrate my stories about 
the shark's rapacity. The inevitable question— "Will a shark really eat a man?"— 
came up. I replied with the certainty I have held for the past two years. But the 
man persisted in his questioning. "How do you know? " he asked. "What makes 
you so sure? " 

I told him that I had grisly proof not particularly suited for the dinner table. 
"It is a photograph," I said, "and not a very pretty one." He insisted on seeing 
the photograph. Finally, somewhat disgusted with the man's macabre curiosity, 
I took out the photo and showed it to him. He took one look at it and gasped, 
"So you're the man who found him!" 

"Found who?" I asked, not immediately remembering the name of the 
victim whose arm I had discovered. 

"Edwin Atkins!" my dinner companion replied. "The widow of that poor 
fellow is marrying my best friend." 

Later, I learned the whole story of the tragedy. Edwin F. Atkins, Jr., his 
wife, their two young sons, Edwin, 5, and David, 3; a nurse and a governess 
had all boarded a two-motored seaplane, the Cohmibus, in Key West. They 
were bound for Havana, along with another passenger, a New York banker 
and broker named Otto Abrahams. Also aboard the plane were a pilot and a 

About 20 miles from Key West, the plane's starboard motor began to miss. 
The pilot, C. W. Miller, spotted a ferryboat and decided to try to land the 
plane near it. The day was calm, but the seas were surging. 

As Miller brought the plane in, a wave nearly 20 feet high struck the plane's 
pontoons and hurled it upward. The plane plunged downward into the swells 
and smashed nose-first into the sea. As it struck the surface, another huge wave 
hit the plane and spun it around. 

The impact tossed the passengers out of their seats. Mr. and Mrs. Atkins had 
been holding the children on their laps. When the plane crashed, the children 
were hurled from their parents' arms and were never seen again. Atkins tried 
to make his way back to the cabin, but Abrahams, realizing the children were 
surely dead, grabbed Atkins and managed to get him out of the water-filled 
plane and onto a wing. The governess, Grace McDonald, also clambered out on 
the violently bobbing wing. 

The ferryboat, H.M. Flagler, meanwhile, was speeding toward the downed 
plane. Despite the mountainous seas, the Flagler's skipper. Captain John Albury, 
launched a lifeboat, which fought its way toward the now rapidly sinking 

As the lifeboat neared the plane, a wave suddenly erupted and threw Miss 
McDonald off the wing. Passengers aboard the Flagler, lining the rail to see the 
drama, screamed as Miss McDonald vanished beneath the sea. 

Captain Shark-Killer 69 

The lifeboat came alongside the plane at last. Seamen snatched the survivors 
out of the wreckage. They saved Mrs. Atkins, the pilot, the mechanic, the nurse 
and Abrahams. But Atkins, his two sons and Miss McDonald were lost. 

Had Atkins been alive when the shark found him? I don't know. I do believe, 
however, that more than one shark got Atkins, dead or alive. Since no other 
remains were found in the shark I caught, I assume that several sharks attacked 
the body. And I assume that the other victims met the same awful fate. 

The Brown shark, by the way, is Hsted by some so-called experts as a "harm- 
less" shark, 


The hand again. 

I was in the smoking-room of an island steamer going from St. Thomas to 
Trinidad. Again, I had struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger. Again, 
we had started talking about sharks. Again, the question, "Will a shark eat a 
man? " Again, the persistent pleas to see the picture. And again, I showed it. 

It was then that my companion told me that he had been a boyhood chum 
of Edwin Atkins. 

I should destroy the photograph, I guess. It almost seems to be cursed. Yet, 
in thinking it over, I believe I will continue to show it when a skeptic demands 
proof of the claim that sharks eat men. In that way, perhaps, it will serve as a 
vividly grim reminder to beware of sharks. 

Fernadina, Florida 

Pete the Shark says he can smell sharks when they're around, and sometimes 
I think he actually can. In fact, I have wondered a couple of times if Pete isn't 
part shark himself. 

I had figured out a new way of netting sharks by allowing a net to drift 
along vertically with the tide, instead of securing it at the bottom with anchors. 
We went out today to try the new technique because Pete said he had smelled 

We set out the net, and we didn't have long to wait to see how well the 
drifting net idea worked. Minutes after we set the net adrift the nearest buoy 

We hauled in a big Tiger shark. Even before we had him killed and stowed 
aboard, another buoy disappeared. We pulled in the net again and found a big 
Tiger thrashing in it. 

Again, and again, for four back-breaking hours we let out the net and hauled 
it in, each time landing a shark. 

Frequently, we netted a batch of skates and rays. We cut them up and left 
them in the net, providing a bloody bait for the next shark which happened 
along. There is no better scent to be had. 

The sharks kept striking the net and we kept pulling them in. When the 
thirty-sixth shark had been hauled into the 20-foot boat, there was barely 3 
inches of freeboard left. A fair-sized wave would have swamped the boat and 
sent Pete and me spilling into some obviously sharky waters. 

We hailed a nearby shrimp boat which took us in tow. But we had such a 

70 Man Against Shark 

load that water poured in through two small holes in the sternboard, where 
a bumper formerly had been secured. Not a stick or a plug of any kind was in 
the boat. I couldn't let that great catch go to the bottom, though, so I did what 
that boy at the dike did, only more so. I stuck my two thumbs into the holes. 
We made it to shore safely. 

Our catch weighed 9,985 pounds. 

Nantucket, Massachusetts 

Captain Ernie Schuetz and I are catching about 350 sharks a month, right 
off this summer colony where people are swimming without realizing that 
thousands of sharks are swimming here, too. These sharks aren't after bathers, 
though. Not as long as there are great schools of menhaden about. 

And most of the sharks we are catching are not dangerous. Because I knew 
this, I got careless the other day. You should never get careless around sharks, 
even the "harmless" ones. 

We had caught an 8-foot Sand shark on a hand line. The Sand shark isn't 
exactly harmless, but it isn't exactly ferocious, either. You just have to be 
watchful when you handle one. And I wasn't. 

When we brought him alongside the boat, I clubbed him across the snout 
and swung him inboard with the block and tackle. He dropped down on the 
deck, apparently dead. (That blow on the snout does it— usually.) I wanted to 
move him forward a bit because he was in the way of the wheel. I started 
tugging him by his head while Ernie pushed him from the back. Suddenly, the 
shark gave a convulsive flop. His jaws yawned open and, somehow, he seemed 
to lunge forward. I leaped backward, lost my balance and fell. As I lay there, 
stunned on the deck, I could see the sky spinning above me, for I was fiat on 
my back, and I could feel the shark's jaws slowly closing on my left leg. 

I sat up. I just froze there, watching the shark's upper jaw descend over my 
leg like a jagged curtain. 

At that moment, the shark died. Only the pinpoints of his teeth penetrated 
my skin. I was covered with cold sweat, and as I looked at my leg with its dim 
crescent of tiny pricks, I could hardly believe it was still intact. 

Everything had happened in only a few seconds. Ernie was already prying 
the shark's jaws apart and gently lifting my leg from the maw. 

Shark bites were no novelty to Captain Ernie. He told me once about the 
time he was working a ship out of Nassau. The Una, a small Bahamas steamer 
bound for her home port at Turks Island, hit a coral reef. 

"She had about 75 laborers aboard," Ernie recalled, "and when that little 
ship hit the reef, there wasn't much time for many of them to get into the life- 
boats, or even on the life-rafts. Lots of them— God only knows how many— were 
dumped into the water and kept afloat by grabbing at whatever bobbed by. 

"There wasn't much panic, though. That is, not until one of the passengers 
on a raft tumbled off and disappeared. Just one word was all he yelled: Shark! 

"All of a sudden, the sea was alive with those monsters from hell! They 
smashed into the rafts, overturning them and throwing screaming men into the 
sea. One of them even half-leaped out of the water and pulled a man right off 
a raft. 

Captain Shark-Killer 


"Men tried to beat the sharks off with oars. The oars broke over their 
heads— or a shark would grab an oar in his teeth and splinter it as if it was a 

"Some of the men went crazy and jumped right into the sharks' jaws. 

"How long the nightmare went on, Bill, I don't know. It ended as fast as it 
started. The sharks just disappeared. They didn't go away hungry, though. I'll 
vouch for that." 

MoREHEAD City, North Carolina 

We're supplying sharks for a fascinating shark "disassembly line" at the 
Ocean Leather shark station here. 

We're catching between 50 and 60 a day (on good days, and that's what 
most of them are). As soon as we pull into one of the station's wharves, the 
sharks are quickly unloaded and skinned right there on the platform. A skilled 
skinner can do the job in less than 15 minutes, providing his knife is razor-sharp 
and he knows his shark anatomy. The shark's dorsal fins are first hacked off. 
Then a long slit is made down the midline of the back. Next, the skinner peels 
away the hide by pulling it with one hand while, with the other hand, he wields 

Shark-skinning is an art demanding skill— and a very sharp knife. The dotted lines on 
the figure of the shark and the hide show where trims are made. Skinning, according 
to Captain Young, begins with a cut down the center of the back, then up to the head 
and around the eyes and the gill slits. A second skinning operation begins along the 
top of the tail and is continued up the underside to the ventral fin, around it and back 
to the other side again. The result: the hide comes off in one piece, shaped as shown. 

From Shark! Shark! 

72 Ma?i Against Shark 

his knife to cut the hide away from the carcass. The hide is washed down with 
sea water, then put in a barrel of brine for 3 or 4 hours to prepare it for 

Fleshing is done by stretching the hide on a beaming board, a stout board 
about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long, which is curved to match the beaming 
knife, a curved, 16-inch blade with handles on both ends. Excess flesh is removed 
by carefully drawing the knife along the hide. It is now ready to be cured. 
Generous amounts of salt are spread on the flesh surface of the hide in the 
curing process. This is done in the salt house, at the end of the wharf. There, 
too, the hides are baled for shipment to the tannery. 

While this is going on, the carcass of the shark is being readied for eventual 
sale. Though most species of shark provide tasty meat (I rank it among the 
best fish I've ever eaten), because of the prejudices that exist against shark, we 
had to find another use for the nutritious meat. The answer was fertilizer. 

The carcasses were wheeled, on a narrow-gauge railway, from the skinning 
platform to the fertilizer sheds. Here, in several large frame buildings, was the 
machinery for reducing the carcasses to fertilizer. The carcass of each shark 
was run through a hopper, where it was ground up. Then the finely chopped 
pieces were fed into a hot-air dryer. The dried product was next pulverized 
and put into bags. The result was a fine fertilizer, so rich in vitamins and min- 
erals that it had to be mixed with other, less potent fertiHzers for best results. 

The disassembly line had still other by-products. The shark's big, vitamin- 
filled liver was rendered by boiling it in a double-boiler contraption, then 
skimming off^ the oil. The fins were dried and shipped to Chinese merchants 
who sold them for shark fin soup. The teeth and dried jaws went to curio 

Because of Prohibition, we had another unexpected by-product. I found out 
about this one night when one of the men at the station (most of us lived in 
bunkhouses right near the wharves) invited me to have a few drinks. I was 
surprised that he was serving the real stuff. Imported, too. 

When I asked him where he had got it, he looked around very carefully 
and then told me the story. It seemed that a rum-runner had run aground on 
a sand spit offshore a few nights before. Afraid the Coast Guard would catch 
him if he was still hung up there at dawn, the rum-runner jettisoned his load of 
imported liquor. Thus lightened, the boat floated clear of bottom and the rum- 
runner sped off. 

Somehow— my host never explained this— he heard about the bootlegger's 
jettisoned cargo. He went out with a grappling line and fished up several cases 
of liquor. He was a fisherman, not a bootlegger, though. He never sold a bottle. 
He just became a grand host and a connoisseur of fine spirits. 

Bootleggers soon realized that our shark-fishing could be a fine cover-up 
for rum-running operations. I was approached by one of the members of the 
local gang, who made me an offer. His ingenious idea was for me to rendezvous 
with a liquor-carrying boat offshore after I had got my day's catch of sharks. 
I was to stuff bottles of liquor into the sharks and then go ashore. There, a 
member of the gang, who was to get a job working on the wharf, would 
smuggle the contraband into a "special shipment" of fertilizer. It sounded like 

Captain Shark-Killer 73 

a great idea. But I turned it down. I'd take my chance with real sharks, but 
not the human variety. 

Shark-catching here is not as spectacular as it was in my mano -harpooning 
days. But it is much more effective. We set our nets in the afternoon to trap 
sharks, who do most of their foraging for food at night. Each day before sunset 
we embark on our three small boats and put out to the sharking grounds at 
Western Shoals or Cape Lookout. Each boat has ten nets, each of which is 
rigged with two anchors and four buoys. The anchors pull the net to the 
bottom, and the buoys mark the nets on the surface. A line strung with lead 
pulls the bottom of the net down, and a line strung with cork buoys holds up 
the top of the net. 

The net hangs vertically in the water like a curtain. The nets are staggered 
so that a long line of them stretches for about half a mile out from shore. Thus, 
the sharks are stopped by the net "curtain" as they head for shallow water in 
search for food. 

The nets are hung so that they will "fin" the shark. He swims into the net, 
whose diamond-shaped openings allow his head to get through, but hold him 
by his pectoral fins. Once trapped, the shark cannot back up. He is simply 
incapable of backing up. He hangs there and tries to get away by rolling. This 
maneuver only enmeshes him more. Frequently, his rolling wraps the net around 
his gill slits, and prevents him from breathing. He dies by suffocation. 

Just before dawn, we set out again for the nets. Hand over hand, the crew 
hauls the boat along the length of each net, pulling up the cork line and passing 
it aft. When a shark's head breaks surface, it is hooked through the jaw. The 
shark is clubbed and, hopefully dead, is swung aboard. 

Sometimes we set trawls. To a long line, secured at both ends by anchors 
and buoys, we fasten "gangens," or lengths of line about a fathom long strung 
with a length of chain and a steel, king-sized sharkhook baited with fresh- 
caught white fish. From 25 to 50 of these lines are set. The next morning, when 
we haul in the catch, often all we get are sharks' heads. The entire bodies, up 
to the gill slits, have been eaten by cannibalistic sharks. Sometimes, as we pulled 
in the trawls, the cannibals would still be attacking their helpless relatives. 

Most of our luck, though, is good. The same cannot be said of the menhaden 
fishermen, for our good luck is their very bad luck. Cape Lookout is a great 
"pogie," or menhaden, fishing ground. The menhaden are caught by surround- 
ing the huge schools with purse seines a thousand feet long. Once the seine is 
closed and the bottom pursed with a draw string, thousands of "pogies" are 

The sight of this mass of trapped prey is maddening to a shark. He bites a 
hole in the net, and the "pogies" pour out— right into the shark's mouth. Other 
sharks converge at the feast. Each one bites one or more big holes in the net 
to gorge himself on the fish, whose short-lived freedom ends where the shark's 
maw begins. The sharks stuff themselves on "pogies." I once caught a shark 
who had just left a "pogie" feast. He had in his bulging stomach 57 fish, each 
5 to 8 inches long, and each swallowed head first, which showed that the shark 
had got them as they swam toward him, undoubtedly from a net he or another 
raider had ripped open. 

74 Man Against Shark 

Panama City, Florida 

Sharks are where you find them, but finding them is often much more diffi- 
cult than catching them. One day, you are pulHng them in with every haul of 
the net. The next day, they are gone. But one of the charms of shark-fishing 
is the interesting people you meet while you are trying to meet some sharks. 
While scouting the Gulf of Mexico for a likely spot for some profitable shark 
fishing, I met a couple of sharkers with some good yarns to tell. 

Captain Charles Thompson told me about a whale shark that didn't get away. 
I'll pass along the story as he gave it to me. 

"We were anchored just below Knight's Key, about half a mile from the old 
Florida East Coast dock. Looking over there one morning about 9 o'clock, I 
saw an unbelievably large shark within a few feet of the dock trestle. We 
immediately took to the launch and started after the fish. 

"We got nearer and nearer until the boat was right over him and we could 
see his spotted back 3 or 4 feet below the surface. I drove a harpoon into him 
near the gills. 

"We called to some nearby fishermen to come and help us, and with their 
assistance we did everything we could think of to make him fast: 40 or 50 times 
during the day we shot at him with a rifle. At a distance of about 2 feet from 
his back we let fly with a shotgun loaded with No. 2 shot, which just bounced, 
leaving a little circular mark in his skin. 

"Unruffled by our little attentions, the fish circled several times in from the 
trestle to perhaps a mile inshore, coming back again and again, and about 1 
o'clock in the afternoon, when the tide was running out, we thought he would 
get outside the bay. 

"But the fish remained in the bay. I was surprised that he did not put up 
any fight and was so extremely sluggish. He seemed not to realize that any- 
thing in particular was happening to him. He kept circling around, moving his 
big tail in a slow, regular way, drawing the small boats after him with the 
greatest of ease. There were now several harpoons in him, and one line was 
fastened through his tail and another made fast to the dorsal fin. 

"About half past five that night he made his last circle in from the trestle, 
and this time we headed him over toward a sandbank by poking his head with 
a boat hook. He finally stranded on the sandbank, where he was made fast with 
lines around his body stretched to oars stuck deep in the sand. 

"A piece was then cut from the top of his head. With a knife on the end of 
a pole we tried to reach his brain and kill him. We were surprised to discover 
about three inches of gristle at this point in his head." 

I later saw Captain Thompson's great shark on exhibit in Miami. It weighed 
13^ tons and was 38 feet long and 18 feet in girth. A careful examination showed 
that it was a young Whale shark which had not yet reached maturity. 

Another yarn came from Captain W. B. Caswell, Sr., an old-time Gulf 
fisherman who called Panama City his home port. 

"I had built a campfire in the palmetto," he began, "and was boiling a pot of 
coffee about 2 o'clock one morning. It had been a cold, raw night, and my crew 
had made three long hauls over coral reefs. Just after midnight, a big shark, 
striking at the gilled mackerel in the bunt, had torn our seine half in two. So 

Captain Shark-Killer 75 

we were out of business temporarily until it got light enough to see to mend 
our net. 

"While I was making the coffee, I heard the chug-chug of a motorboat 
coming in, and from the exhaust noise I knew whose boat it was. Sure enough, 
when the boat came abreast of our fire on the beach, I recognized it. My friend 
stopped the engine, and hailed: 'That you. Captain Caswell?' 

" 'Yes,' I yelled back. 

"Before I could shout that there was coffee ready, he must have smelled it, 
for his next inquiry was: 'How's coffee?' 

" 'Sure,' I answered. 'Come ashore and join us.' 

"The crew waded ashore, and even before they reached the fire I could tell 
there was something wrong. They just didn't have that air fishermen have when 
they've finished a good day's work. 

"'What's wrong. Captain?' I asked my friend. 'Sharks eat up your seine, 

" 'Seine, hell!' he said. 'Look at me!' 

"He turned around. I saw that half his coat and the back of his pants had 
been completely torn away. 

" 'What happened?' I asked. 

" 'Well,' he answered, still angry about the incident, 'I was holding the lead 
line down in a swash below the Bell Shoals and we caught a seine full of sharks 
along with the mackerel, and one of them took a nip at me. Them slickers cost 
me six dollars and them dungarees cost one dollar and 90 cents— best duck 
brand— and that flannel underwear cost me three dollars a suit. And I had a big 
bandanna handkerchief in my hip pocket and he got that, too.' 

"Even the coffee didn't cheer him up. He was still grumbling about that 
shark when he went back aboard his ship, getting more than his feet wet as he 
waded into the surf." 

Captain Caswell, who retired after 42 years of fishing in the Gulf, developed 
his own method for keeping sharks from tearing his seines. But I wouldn't 
recommend it. 

"A fisherman often cruises for four or five days through all kinds of weather, 
risking his life, health and the money invested in his rig," Captain Caswell said 
by way of introduction to describing his anti-shark warfare. "So, when he finds 
a 10,000-pound bunch of salable fish in his seine and a big shark tearing 10-foot 
holes in it, he is pretty apt to take the most effective and surest method at hand 
to get rid of the shark. 

"My particular method was to shove off in the seine boat, get within reach 
of the shark and dive overboard for the dorsal fin. It's easy to grasp, being rough 
and not slippery. Usually, it's not difficult to get hold of this fin with the left 
hand, and to make myself secure I wrap my legs around the shark behind the 
fin. The shark makes a lunge and at The same time starts to roll over. I take my 
sheath knife and, reaching as far forw^d with it as I can. draw it strongly 
across the muscles of the back of his neck. One slash with a good sharp blade, 
7 or 8 inches long, usually cuts the muscles and cords that direct the shark's 
movements. The head bends down, the wound opens and the loss of blood soon 
weakens the shark. I get out of the water while the shark aimlessly rushes about, 

76 Man Against Shark 

rolling over and over and pounding the water with his tail. After a few minutes, 
he settles toward the bottom, and my catch is saved." 

Captain Caswell later taught his son, Wallace, to ride sharks. But what the 
old Captain did to save his catch, Wallace did for a living. Billed as the "Tarzan 
of the Sea," Wallace would enter a tank at a seaside resort, and, while a crowd 
of paying viewers gaped, battle a shark. Wallace always won. 

(During the New York World's Fair of 1939-40, Billy Rose wanted to stage 
a sensational show— Captain Caswell versus a shark. I was hired to design the 
tank, make arrangements for the delivery of sea water to it, and, of course, 
catch the sharks. It would have been a great show, but the New York Humane 
Society got wind of it, and the project was quietly dropped.) 

Isle of Warimos, French Somaliland 

When my employers at the Ocean Leather Company once asked me how far 
I would be willing to go to hunt sharks, I said, "To the ends of the earth." This 
is the end of the earth. Unbelievably hot, unbelievably desolate, this island is so 
barren not a blade of grass grows upon it, let alone a tree. It lies, low and sun- 
baked, about 8 miles south of Djibouti, the only place in French Somaliland 
that could be loosely termed a city. Djibouti has been called the hottest place 
on earth. Warimos is hotter. 

Djibouti is on the Gulf of Aden, near the neck of water that connects the 
southern terminus of the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. Here, I was told, an 
experimental shark station could be set up. If it proved successful, another 
would be established on Madagascar. 

On the way to Djibouti, I met Ras Tafari, a friendly, dignified little African. 
I invited him shark-fishing and he invited me to a lion hunt. Neither of us 
could accept the other's invitation. I was about to plunge into my job as a 
shark fisherman, and Ras Tafari was heading for his new job. He was on his 
way to Ethiopia, where he would be crowned Haile Selassie, Emperor of 
Ethiopia and Lion of Judah. 

I often envied him his palace, in the months that followed. Imagine landing 
on the moon and trying to build something there. That is the way it was on 
Warimos. Lumber had to be brought in from Trieste. Water, scarce even in 
Djibouti, was non-existent on Warimos. Our drinking water was brought to the 
camp on the backs of donkeys from an oasis 10 miles in the desert. Other water 
came by boat. We had ice brought in, too— by a native runner, who carried it 
from Djibouti to the island, which was accessible by foot twice a day at low 

At night, hyenas prowled the island, looking for the shark carcasses which 
they could smell from shore. The terrifying howls of the hyenas woke us in 
the middle of the night, frightened the natives, and even sent the dogs whimper- 
ing under the beds. 

A dry, unceasing southeast wind swept across the parched land, carrying 
sand and dust into everyone's eyes. The wind had been blowing for centuries, 
and it filled the floor of the sea around the island with fine mud. The water was 
always muddy; particles of sand and dirt were constantly being deposited on the 

Captain Shark-Killer 77 

water by the wind and drifting to the bottom. Mud clung to our nets and caked 
the hulls of our boats. But that mud was a good omen, for mud means sharks. 

Our shark-hunters were a motley lot: tall, regal Abyssinians; wiry little 
Arabs; Dankali natives from northern French Somaliland; their long-time rivals, 
Somali from the south. Both the Somali and the Dankali carried knives. The 
natural rivalry between them would have been murderous if we hadn't dis- 
armed them. We took advantage of the rivalry by urging them to compete 
against each other as shark-catchers. 

My private shadow was a big, muscular, ugly Somali who wore tattered 
dungarees and a vest. He was handy with tools and quick witted. He attached 
himself to me and called himself Ali Young. He dogged my footsteps so closely, 
ashore or afloat, he was something of a nuisance. 

But if he hadn't been an arm's length away from me one day . . . 

We were in a small boat about 5 miles southeast of Warimos. It was a spot 
known for big sharks— Kabir Lokho?n, the natives said. At daybreak, we started 
hauling in our first shark net. We pulled in a few Mantas, a couple of Hammer- 
heads and some Tigers. Ali was ever at my side, as I helped to work the net or 
manhandled the writhing sharks and Mantas into the stowage compartment. 

The nets were slippery with mud, and, as the nets were taken aboard, they 
coated the decks with slime. The sea was pretty rough. And the slippery decks 
didn't help us keep our feet under us. Suddenly, the sea heaved mightily, and I 
tumbled into a net which was already crowded with sharks. Just as I landed in 
the net, I heard one of the boys scream: ''''Lokhom! Kabir lokhom! —^\\2ivV\ Big 

I felt I was safe for a moment or two. I wasn't bleeding, so the sharks would 
probably not attack me immediately. Luckily, I hadn't landed on any of them, 
so I had not yet provoked them. And— except for the kabir lokhom who had just 
swum into the net— the sharks were near exhaustion from their hours of struggle 
in the net I now shared with them. 

The big Tiger was a different matter. He was after prey, for he was still 
free and not yet entangled in the net. I felt I could hold him off momentarily 
by taking a chance at splashing and thrashing about. Then I realized that I could 
not move. A net is a treacherous thing, which I had learned to fear, for, if a 
foot or arm is caught in it, a fatal entanglement almost surely begins. It was like 
a variation on that old legend of the Tiger or the Lady. For me, it was the 
Tiger or the lethal embrace of the net. 

Whenever I see the phrase "snatched from the jaws of death," I think of that 
moment in the net, for that is exactly what Ali Young did. He reached down 
and, holding onto the gunwale of the tossing boat with one hand, he grabbed 
me with the other. He tightened his big hand around my wrist and plucked me 
out of the sea. 

That night, Ali was the hero of the camp. His own account of the adventure 
lost nothing in the telling. His listeners were properly awed by both the story 
and the large supply of tobacco I had rewarded him with. 

One of the most spectacular catches off Warimos was made by a couple of 
natives in the smallest boat we had. They were hauling in a net when they felt 
something huge tugging it down. Inch by inch, they pulled the net up high 

78 Man Against Shark 

enough to see a great Manta entwined, but still very much alive. Rigging a line 
through a block on the mast, they pulled away. But the mast gave way, cracked 
at the deckline and fell into the net, too. Still undaunted, the natives kept trying 
to pull in the net and, at the same time, make for shore, which was not far off. 
Then they discovered another monstrous Manta entangled in the net! 

Towing the net, the two big Mantas and the mast, they somehow managed 
to make shore. We had a derrick on the wharf, but it was not big enough to 
lift the Mantas, so we beached them in the ebbing tide. When the water receded, 
we made lines fast around them and rounded up a few natives to pull them to 
the skinning platform. The Mantas wouldn't budge. We called a few more boys. 
Again, they could not pull them in. We finally needed 22 boys to lift and drag 
the carcass of each of the giant rays to the skinning platform. From one of the 
Mantas I removed an embryo weighing 50 pounds. It was folded up in the shape 
of a letter S, with one pectoral "wing" enwrapping the top of its body and the 
other enwrapping the bottom. I carried it to the sea and put it in the water. Its 
"wings" unfolded and it swam away, as gracefully as a bird. 

The waters off French Somaliland were full of sharks, and their cousins. We 
caught not only sharks and Mantas, but Sting rays, Torpedoes and Sawfish. We 
dried and cured shark jaws and Sting ray tails, and sent them to the Commis- 
sioner of Fishes in Paris. He forwarded many of them to the Kensington 
Museum in London and the Museum of Natural History in New York. Years 
later, I learned from my friend Dr. Gudger at the Museum of Natural History 
that I had made several valuable contributions to ichthyology. Many times I 
would be sitting in his office, telling him some experience of mine, when he 
would say, "Just a minute. Captain Bill." He would ring for his stenographer, 
and, when she appeared with her pad and pencil, he'd say, "Now, Captain 
Bill, spill the beans." In many papers which Dr. Gudger wrote he generously 
credited me for supplying him with facts I had gathered in my shark travels. 

Among my souvenirs of the shark-hunting days on Warimos was the 6-foot 
saw of an 18-foot Sawfish we caught one day. I had to restrain Ali when the 
Sawfish was brought aboard, brandishing her dangerous weapon. He was all for 
grabbing the fish as his own property, even before a few swipes of a hatchet 
lopped off the wicked-looking saw-toothed snout. 

Back on shore, when the Sawfish was hoisted to the skinning platform, Ali 
danced around it, veiling, "Le^ oeufs, les oeufs!" His was the first of many 
greedy hands that reached into the shark's slitted stomach and pulled out les 
oeufs. The eggs were not truly eggs. The Sawfish is viviparous. But the embryos 
are connected in the womb to yolk-sacs which start off the size of ostrich eggs 
early in the embryo's development. As the embryo grows, the yolk-sac is used 
for food. Finally, at birth, the empty sac is cast off. 

Ali and the rest of the epicureans who raided the Sawfish's larder were not 
aware of these anatomical facts. The yolk-sacs were true eggs to them. Les 
oeufs— there were about 10 good-sized ones— were roasted on hot rocks over a 
charcoal fire. When the cooks thought their "eggs" were done, they picked 
them up, smoking hot, opened their thin shells and ate the gooey mess with their 
fingers, which were carefully licked, one by one, when the feast was over. 

Not long after the Sawfish egg cookout, our work ended at Warimos. We 

Captain Shark-Killer 79 

had amply shown that a successful shark station could be set up there to provide 
the natives with a badly needed industry. We were supposed to return to Paris, 
headquarters for the European branch of the leather company, make our report, 
and then head for Madagascar, where another shark station was to be established. 

I said a sad goodbye to Ali. Then I started walking across the tide flat to our 
battered old Ford that rattled out to Warimos from Djibouti at low tide. The 
Ford had to make a fast turn-around in order to make the round-trip during 
a single low tide. 

Ali, ever my shadow, ran after me. He knew there wasn't any time for cere- 
monies; the Ford had to start off right away. I tried to soothe him by telling 
him Fd be coming back to Madagascar, and, when I did, I would take him 
with me. 

A big grin spread across faithful All's face. He knew practically no English, 
but he managed to say, "I wait for you." 

How long Ali waited Fll never know. Our plans were changed in Paris. 
The company decided against starting a station at Madagascar. My next shark- 
hunting grounds would be Australia. 

En Route to Australia 

After a short Hawaiian vacation that included a few old-fashioned shark 
hunts, I set out for Australia on a ship that stopped at many South Pacific islands 
along the way. At every stop I made it my business to inquire into the local 
shark situation. A sharkman's holiday. 

I spoke to missionaries who had spent much of their lives in the islands; 
through interpreters I interviewed native fishermen; I discussed shark, in pidgin 
English, with venerable chieftains whose knowledge of the ways of the shark 
was based on decades of practical experience. 

I soon learned that there was no doubt in this part of the world about the 
shark's man-eating habits. Every island I visited had its own history of shark 
attacks. And, on nearly every island, there was visible evidence: one-legged or 
one-armed men and boys who explained their injuries with whatever their 
word was for shark. 

The islanders respect the shark, but they do not panic at the sight or thought 
of him. They seem to have the same regard for the shark that the African has 
for the lion, and, like the African, an island fisherman is not afraid to hunt the 
shark when conditions are favorable. 

In Samoa, natives catch sharks for food. They wrap the sharks in broad ti 
leaves and roast them in underground pits. Sharks are so abundant around some 
of the islands that for countless years the natives have had a regular trade with 
the Chinese for shark fins. 

One popular method of fishing in the islands is with a great net which is 
taken out by about 10 men who form it into a semi-circle, with the open end 
pointing toward shore. As they slowly walk the net toward shore, corralling 
small fish in the process, sharks almost inevitably appear near the fishermen, 
who apparently are not bothered by this uninvited company. 

But the natives will not share the water with the shark at night, the time 
when most species of shark prowl for food. The shark at night is looked upon 

80 Man Against Shark 

as an aggressive predator who will attack any potential food. The sharks often 
follow boats and canoes at night, biting the oars, paddles and outriggers. 

I was told of violent attacks by large sharks on boats. Oars have been ripped 
from natives' hands, and, many times, sharks have so savagely snapped at the 
outriggers that boats have been overturned, spilling the occupants to nearly 
certain death. 

In the Ellice Islands, northwest of Samoa, about 40 natives, crossing in canoes 
at night between islands several miles apart, were caught in a sudden squall. 
One of the canoes was swamped. Instantly, the sea was seething with sharks that 
had been trailing the canoes. The sharks devoured the natives in the first canoe, 
and then began attacking the other canoes, which were foundering in the storm- 
churned sea. 

The natives' two pitiless enemies— storm and shark— merged their malevo- 
lence. Canoe after canoe was capsized, native after native was torn to pieces. 
When the storm and the sharks disappeared with the coming dawn, only two 
natives were alive to carry the awful tale back to their home island. 

Word of the massacre spread throughout Polynesia, and I heard the story 
again and again on many islands. 

A similar story was told in the Fijis, where a large double sailing canoe had 
capsized well off shore. More than 20 natives clinging to the overturned canoe 
were attacked by sharks. Only a few escaped. 

One of the tiny atoll islands I visited was the hunting ground, the natives 
insisted, of a single big shark that patrolled the entrance to the atoll. The natives 
would swim and dive without fear in the lagoon, but they would not venture 
into the entrance of the lagoon with its shark sentry. The shark, they said, 
would not enter the lagoon. 

Solomon Islanders claimed that their sharks were fiercer and bolder than the 
sharks around other islands. There may have been basis for their claims, I was 
told, because the Solomon Islanders throw their dead into the sea, which is a 
sure way to attract sharks. 

Shark teeth are not used for money in the South Pacific, despite what you 
may have heard to the contrary. But the teeth are often used as ornaments and 
talismans. I once met the widow of a New Zealand lawyer who had somehow 
aided the Maoris in New Zealand. Before he died, he presented his wife with a 
prehistoric shark tooth which had been given to him when he was initiated as 
a member of a secret Maori society. He told her to wear the tooth when she 
was among the Maori, for it would be honored as the sign of a friend. 

The words tooth and shark are often synonymous in Polynesian dialects. 
Mako is the most frequently heard word for either tooth or shark. Other Poly- 
nesian words— Tnao, mano, mago—are local names for various kinds of sharks. 

PiNDiMAR, Australia 

While we were setting up Australia's first shark station here, I took a day 
off and went to Sydney, which was nearby, to try my hand at fishing for Aus- 
tralian sharks. Zane Grey's adventures as a game fisherman had received wide- 
spread publicity in Australia. Now here was another American who was going 
to not only catch sharks, but turn them into money. The Aussies were a bit 

Captain Shark-Killer 81 

skeptical, and, when I went out on my first hunt, it was a news event. Luckily, 
I received this notice in the Sydney Daily Guardian: 

"Captain W. E. Young, well known in many parts of the world as a com- 
mercial shark hunter, took a hoHday on Anzac Day, and went fishing in Sydney 
Harbor with two of his colleagues. 

"Many and various were the lines which hung down from the boat's side, 
and many and various were the creatures that came squirming into the cockpit; 
but Captain Young was beyond such trivialities. His line was stout manila rope, 
his hook was a terrifying affair reminiscent of a shepherd's crook, and his bait 
was one large mullet. He watched the line and brooded, while the others trifled 
with the flathead and similar prosaic beasts, and made merry amongst them- 

" 'I don't want a great big brute,' said Captain Bill, 'and I don't want a little 
runt. I want a nice one— about 400 pounds. And I'm going to get it.' 

"And he did. His sudden bellow, 'Clear all lines!' meant swift and ordered 
action, and within a few seconds the boat was cleared for combat. 

"Captain Young stood by the bitt round which his line was turned, and 
watched intently the convulsive movements in the water, to which all eyes were 
now directed. He took the line in his hands as soon as these movements changed 
in character, and, with the dexterity of long experience, proceeded to find out 
how safely the hook was embedded in the monster. 

"In those hands Mr. Shark never had a chance. When he dived, he found 
himself swept up to the surface and above it; when he swerved he was pulled 
around in a circle; when he made a full-speed attempt to get away from the 
scene of his discomfiture he was stopped with a dreadful jerk as his tormentor 
took a sudden turn with the line around the bitt. 

"Captain Young chuckled and spoke words of wisdom. 'Just about 400 
pounds, I reckon.' The rope slackened and was as quickly hauled in. A tremen- 
dous splashing, and a first view of the monstrous fish. 'No, I guess he's a "she." ' 

"More splashing, and another brief glimpse. 'A Tiger, about 10 feet.' 

"Five more minutes of watchful endeavor and cunning line-play; then, for 
an instant a sleek gray head and a baleful eye appeared. Crack! 

"Young's automatic appeared from nowhere, planted a slug in exactly the 
right spot, and disappeared again. Twenty seconds later the victor gazed down 
cheerfully into the leering dead face, with its rows of ghastly teeth. 

" 'This lady's a respectable married woman. Let's tow her home and count 
the family. About two dozen, I should say.' So Mrs. Tiger Shark went on her 
last voyage, ignominiously dragged up the harbor. 

"There may be other men who can catch just the size shark they require, 
and even name its length and species by the feel of the line. But Captain Young 
raised himself above the heights of mere man when he finished his operation on 
the corpse. Three pairs of eyes asked him a mute question, and he grinned 

" 'Just twenty-four,' he said." 

That highly successful demonstration in Sydney Harbor did wonders for 
our venture. Word spread that we were not a bunch of amateurs with a hare- 
brained idea. And we received wonderful cooperation in setting up our station 
in Pindimar. 

82 Man Against Shark 

Buildings still stood from a refrigeration plant the government had built and 
later abandoned. Sharks abounded there, we were told. Pindimar oystermen, 
plagued by sharks, happily showed us where to find sharks— right in the middle 
of the oyster beds. 

On our first day of operation we headed out into the bay, near the oyster 
beds, with mullet-baited hooks. I decided to use my prize hook, made to order 
for me in London by a fine hook-maker. Galvanized, of half-inch carbon steel, 
with a chisel-pointed barb that was razor-sharp, it was designed to catch the 
biggest, toughest sharks in the sea. The gleaming hook hung from a brass chain 
and a sturdy swivel designed to keep the shark from twisting ofT the hook. 

All the way out I thought about the monster this gear would surely land. 
When we reached a likely looking spot, the weather turned nasty. I made the 
hook line fast and went below to the shelter of the cabin— a comfort our 50-foot 
boat boasted. There, protected from the weather, I could still keep an eye on 
my line. 

I hadn't been down below long when the launch shivered from stem to stern! 
My line was taut, drawn stiff as a ramrod by a huge shark on the other end. 

I rushed on deck to begin what I thought would be a classic battle. But when 
I grabbed the line it was slack. The shark had struck and managed to get off 
the hook. Cursing under my breath, I hauled in the line as quickly as I could. 
I was determined to bait it and get it back in the water immediately, for the 
monster might still be about. When I pulled in my hook, though, I discovered 
that it was broken in two. I examined it carefully. There were no defects in it. 
The explanation was simple, but incredible. A shark had struck my steel hook 
hard enough to break it as easily as I could have snapped a twig. 

We decided to use nets, the like of which had never been seen in Australia 
before. They were about 1,000 feet long, 16 feet deep, with an 8-inch mesh. 
They were hung in the same "curtain" fashion that I had found to be so effec- 
tive elsewhere. In my entire sharking career never had I been given an oppor- 
tunity to test out the theory that sharks were attracted to white or light objects. 
I decided to try an experiment with the nets. We alternated blue, green and 
white sections in one net. Invariably, we found sharks in the white section— 
and none at all in the colored. The experiment left no doubts, in my mind at 
least, about the effect of color on a shark's senses. 

We had been told that the waters were full of sharks of many kinds— Gray 
Nurse, Hammerhead, Carpet, Whaler, Tiger, Blue Pointer, Wobbegong, Shovel 
Nose, Port Jackson, Angel, Gummie. But we were not prepared for the bonanza 
we would strike. 

Our specially built boats arrived at Pindimar from Sydney, trim 30-footers 
powered by 12-horsepower diesels. We set our nets for the first time, about 
3 miles out from the station. The next morning, we began to under-run our 

Our first surprise came when we saw that the sealed cans which buoyed the 
top-line of the net had collapsed. That meant the net had been dragged to 20 
fathoms by some enormous weight. 

The weight was pure shark. The net was alive with them, and every one big. 

As each shark appeared, his tail was securely lashed, the derrick arm was 
swung out, the windlass was turned, and up came a shark, tail-first, still en- 

Captain Shark-Killer 83 

meshed in the net. The shark could be cut out of the net, of course. But nets 
cost money, and, as long as you watch your fingers when you're near the 
entangled shark's jaws, untangling the net is not as dangerous as, say, working 
around a buzz saw. 

We clouted the shark with an outsized baseball bat, and sometimes shot him, 
but we could never be sure he was dead. 

Anyway, in that furious under-running on that first day's haul, we had 
hardly time to do anything more than swing 'em aboard. We hauled in 22 from 
that net, all of them big Dusky sharks, and we were lucky there weren't 23, for 
the boat gunwales were hardly 3 inches above the water when we headed home. 

We never topped that first day's catch. It was a record for a single net. 
Apparently, a school of sharks had blundered into our net. But it was a great 
start, and good catches continued. 

Of course, the usual cannibalism deprived us of many a good hide. The 
Tigers were particularly vicious. When we took in a net with Port Jacksons, 
Wobbegongs and Tigers, the Tigers would usually be the only whole captives. 

Once, though, we saw evidence that a little 3-foot Port Jackson had out- 
witted a big, 12-foot Tiger. The Port Jackson shark is an inoffensive shark 
that feeds on shellfish and has pavement-stone-like plates instead of teeth. Put 
a Port Jackson and a Tiger in a net, and the life expectancy of the Port Jackson 
is about 30 seconds. 

Never underestimate the shark, though. And that means any shark. For I 
know at least one Port Jackson who attacked a Tiger— and survived. 

We found them both in the net. Reconstructing what had happened, we 
decided that the wily, 3-foot Port Jackson had been netted first. Next came 
the 12-foot Tiger. He darted for the Port Jackson, but the latter somehow 
evaded the Tiger's attack. The Tiger was now entangled himself, but he made 
another lunge for the Port Jackson. As he did, the little Port Jackson, though 
also enwrapped in the net, grabbed the Tiger as he flashed by. The Port Jackson 
bit the Tiger in the soft vulnerable flesh near the gill slits. The little shark's 
pavement-stone teeth clamped on the gills and hung on. 

That's the way they were found when the net was hauled in the next morn- 
ing. How long the Port Jackson had clung there, we didn't know. But clung 
he had. Even as the Tiger, still alive, was hauled up, the game little Port Jackson 
hung on. The Tiger was killed and tossed into the hold. The Port Jackson, 
exhausted, fell back into the net. No one had the heart to kill him. He was 
thrown back, and swam away, almost proudly, it seemed. The Tiger, inciden- 
tally, had two Port Jacksons in his stomach. 

Porpoises were frequently found in our big Australian sharks' stomachs, 
which made these Aussie monsters somewhat unique, for never before had I 
seen sharks who made a regular diet of porpoises. Usually, a porpoise does the 
chasing. And, when a porpoise mother is giving birth, other porpoises will 
gather around her to protect her from sharks. If a shark comes close, the por- 
poises will actually charge him and butt him aside. 

[The first porpoise (Bottle-nosed dolphin, Tursiops truncatus) ever born 
alive in captivity came into the world at Marineland in Florida in 1947. Several 
Sand-bar or Brown sharks were in the tank at the time, and biologists observing 
the birth saw protective porpoises butting sharks away from the mother. 

84 Man Against Shark 

[Porpoises often seem to have no fear of sharks. In the Gulf of Mexico, I 
know, porpoises will sometimes chase sharks out of a feeding area. In captivity, 
at least, porpoises have even been accused of ganging up and killing a shark, 
apparently by butting its relatively delicate gill slits and crowding it against the 
wall of the tank, preventing it from swimming— and thus breathing.] 

While we were setting up the Pindimar station, several bathers were attacked 
by sharks at Sydney's beaches. A day after a fatal attack at Bondi, one of 
Sydney's most popular beaches, we sent a shark boat down to sweep the waters 
of any sharks that might be around. The man-eater who attacked the bather 
was shrugged off by some as a rare rogue whose presence at the beach was 
extraordinary. We didn't find the sharks rare; we caught 29 sharks in one day, 
right off Bondi. Most of them were man-eaters, and one of them, a 14-foot 
Tiger, was caught in the first line of breakers, a favorite rendezvous for surf 

When the station was running smoothly at Pindimar, my job was done. I 
could have stayed on, but I was seized by wanderlust again. 

After a brief stay in Honolulu, where I got in some shark fishing for sport 
instead of profit, I received my next assignment: the Caribbean. 

ToRTOLA, British West Indies 

Tortola means Land of the Turtle Dove, and, though the turtle doves have 
long since vanished, it is the kind of beautiful, peaceful island that would be a 
homeland for them. Tortola is about 12 miles long and 3 miles wide at its 
broadest point. Its only community is Roadtown, a neat, quiet little town which 
has the charm of a small English village. 

There are sharks around Tortola, and there is obeah in the air. Obeah is a 
kind of sorcery that originated in Africa and is still believed in here. 

On one of my first hunts here, I towed out a horse carcass. It didn't work 
the way it did in Honolulu. "Perhaps I need obeah,^'' I mused, as I cut loose 
the carcass and sailed home empty-handed. 

Just then, a school of porpoises appeared. I harpooned a large one, cut him 
up for bait and drew off his blood into a bucket. My companion in the boat 
was John Neville, one of the best shark-catchers on the island and a man who 
reeked of the scent of shark oil. He ate shark liver raw. He rubbed himself with 
shark oil. He even used soap he made from shark oil, lye and ashes. 

John and I let out a trawl line with several hooks on it. Each hook was baited 
with porpoise, and the sea where we dropped the line was tinged with porpoise 
blood, which we dumped, still warm, from the bucket. 

No sooner had the third hook hit the water, than down went the barrel that 
marked the end of the trawl line. A shark! As we started to haul him in, two 
more sharks hit two other hooks on the trawl line. 

Three sharks were all we could accommodate in our small boat, so we 
headed for port. The next morning, we returned to the trawl line. Five more 
big sharks hung on the only remaining hooks. The rest of the hooks had been 
ripped off the line. 

Never before had I seen sharks go so avidly for bait. I wondered, "Was it 
the porpoise blood— or the scent of John Neville?" 

Captain Shark-Killer 


Another outstanding shark-hunter was a remarkable old man named John 
Smith. Grav-haired with a flowing white beard, he was 75 years old, didn't 
have a tooth in his head, sailed the smallest boat in our shark-catching fleet— 
and caught the biggest sharks. 

John knew every rock and shoal within 50 miles of the island, and he rarely 
came in without a shark. One day, though, he moored his 18-foot boat at our 
wharf, and, walking straight and tall as he always did, strode up to me. 

Captain Young caught this Hammerhead shark 
(Sphyrna zygaena) during his shark-catching 
days in the Virgin Islands. The Hammerhead was 
torn by another shark while it was fast in the 
net. From Shark! Shark! 

"Boss," he said, "there's a big shark hooked out there, but I can't lift him 
into my boat. Will you come and help me?" 

I was surprised to hear an appeal for help coming from him. But I hopped 
aboard our biggest boat, the 40-foot Venus, and we set out for the net, which 
was not far from shore. A large shark was thrashing about in the net. Not until 
we starting under-running the net, though, did I realize how large the shark was. 

Alone in his 18-foot boat, John Smith had been struggling with a 990-pound 
Tiger shark 16 feet long! 

On the leeward side of Tortola was a strait we called The Gut, which sepa- 
rated Tortola from Beef Island. While standing on a bluff overlooking The Gut 

86 Man Against Shark 

one day, I was startled to see a school of big sharks swimming from the wind- 
ward side of Tortola and into The Gut. Then came another school, and another. 
The Gut was filling with sharks which would normally be found only at sea. 

I was excitedly planning the strategy for an epic shark hunt in The Gut 
when one of my native shark-catchers politely suggested that I should be 
planning for a hurricane instead. It was hurricane obeah, he explained, that had 
sent those sharks to the shelter of The Gut. And hurricane obeah had sent the 
smaller fishes away, for the fish pots put out the night before were nearly 
empty in the morning. It was another sign. 

Call it instinct, obeah, intuition— Tortola's people knew a hurricane was 
coming, and they knew it would be a bad one that would strike their island 
hard. (I learned later that the Governor of the nearby Virgin Islands had been 
warned of the hurricane by natives long before the official forecast had reached 
him. Acting only on the natives' warning, the Governor sent out a hurricane 
alert that enabled the islands to batten down for the blow.) 

No amount of money would have lured my shark-catchers to sea. They 
were drawing up their boats from the water, nailing fast the shutters of their 
homes, taking their barrels of precious rain water inside. 

Our two big boats— the Venus and the /. H. S?nith— had to be anchored as 
firmly as possible. We put down four anchors fore and aft on the Venus. The 
Smith had two big anchors well bedded in the coral. We put down two more. 
But my helpers advised me to string a heavy line from the S^nith to shore, and 
make the line fast to a sturdy coconut tree. This was necessary, they told me, 
because, after blowing in from the sea, the hurricane would suddenly shift and 
blow outward from the shore in the direction of the Smith. No safety line was 
necessary for the Venus, they said, since the ofT-shore wind would not bother it. 

We had made our preparations just in time. Our work done, I started for 
my cottage atop a hill. Halfway up, I was flattened by a mighty gust. I crawled 
the rest of the way on my hands and knees. I nailed down the windows and 
door of my cottage from the inside, and, alone, waited out the hurricane. Above 
the winds I could occasionally hear the bleating of goats which had sought 
shelter under my cottage. The cottage was built 4 feet above the ground to 
allow the buffeting winds to pass through, thus weakening their force. For 
24 hours my little cottage shivered, but it was not even weakened. A straw- 
thatched native hut, built on the ground next door to me, was swept away early 
in the storm. 

The day after the hurricane was calm and clear. I rushed down to the water- 
front to inspect the damage. There was none. Both the Smith and the Venus still 
rode at anchor. An off-shore blast had hit the S?nith, as my native weathermen 
had predicted, but the coconut tree anchor had held. 

Weeks passed before the small fish returned to shore and began appearing 
again in the fish pots. And not until they reappeared did the hungry sharks 
return from their hurricane haven. 

When shark-catching was back to normal on Tortola, I put John Neville, 
the man with the scent of shark, in charge of the station. I then set up a smaller 
station, as an auxiliary to Tortola, on the island of Anegada, about 40 miles 
away. I left this in the hands of native supervisors. Once more, I had finished 
a job and was anxious to get started on another one. 

Captain Shark-Killer 87 


I had known for a long time that sharks were prevalent in Cuban waters, and 
I thought a shark industry might be feasible here. But I soon learned that, 
through a curious mixture of sharks and politics, the government had given a 
mysterious Cuban named Dominguez exclusive rights to shark hunting in Cuban 
waters. Dominguez' job was to exterminate the sharks, especially those around 
Havana, so that political enemies of the regime would not have such a con- 
venient way to dispose of their victims. A kind of Murder, Inc., that specialized 
in liquidating politicians, was reportedly using the sharks, if not as assassins or 
corpus delicti removers, at least as a cover-up. It seemed that when a politician 
disappeared, the inevitable verdict was: sharks. But it was never made clear 
whether the victim's killers were two-legged sharks. 

In years past, sharks had been used effectively, I was told, to snatch prisoners 
trying to escape from Morro Castle, the grim old fortress that guarded Havana 
harbor. Accompanied by the old keeper of the Havana harbor lighthouse, I 
went out to the ruins of the castle to see if I could find any basis for this tale. 

After exploring a while, we came to a long, dark stairway that led up to a 
little room which had in the center of its floor a round hole open to the sea, 
about 200 feet below. Leading from the hole was a chute that ended in mid-air 
quite a way above the sea. When the castle was used as a prison many years 
ago, garbage was thrown down this chute, and naturally, hordes of sharks gath- 
ered there to gorge themselves on the refuse. 

"Amigo," I asked the old keeper, "what is there to the tale that prisoners in 
Morro Castle were permitted to escape through the garbage chute? " 

He paused a moment to light his pipe. Then, looking down the hole in the 
floor, he replied, ''''Quien sabe? Who knows whether there is truth in the story? 
There are many tales." 

As far as I could see, the plunge into the sea from that height would be 
enough to kill a man. If he survived the fall, though, he would have little chance 
of surviving the sharks. 

Several times a day, garbage scows would leave Havana to dump garbage 
about 4 or 5 miles off shore. Sharks would suddenly appear, and so would shark- 
catchers, who were poaching on Dominguez' private concession. 

I went out on several of these shark hunts. I once asked my host how he was 
able to get away with catching sharks when Dominguez had exclusive rights. 

"Ha!" he laughed. "He cannot be everywhere, and sharks are in all places, 

Sharks did seem to be in all places around Cuba, and so did the poachers. 
The poacher lay in wait in his small boat amid the freshly dumped refuse until 
a shark appeared near him. The harpoon flashed, the shark was pulled alongside 
the boat and then the fisherman slashed the shark across the back with a long, 
keen knife. If he was lucky, he severed the backbone and paralyzed the shark. 
Next, he sliced off the shark's fins. 

That was all he took of the shark; the rest was left to the other sharks. The 
fisherman could get a dollar a string for fins from Chinese merchants, and 
didn't bother with anything else. (Dominguez, though, went into the shark 
business, processing both hides and oil.) 

On one of the poacher hunts, I saw a startling example of the keenness of the 

88 Man Against Shark 

shark's scent. Among the litter that had been dumped by the garbage scow was 
a burlap sack. As it floated by our boat, I saw a big Tiger shark appear in the 
spreading circle of refuse. He headed straight for the burlap sack, grabbed it 
between his jaws and shook it. The sack ripped open, and for an instant I saw 
its contents— a dead cat and four kittens. We rowed over to harpoon the shark, 
but he gulped down the cat and swam off, leaving the kittens for his companions. 
He had found, and gone straight to, the only bit of animal meat in the garbage- 
strewn area. Then, in a split-second decision before fleeing, he had selected the 
biggest morsel, the cat. 

Cuba is the only place where I caught a shark with a piece of cloth for bait. 
The fisherman I accompanied to the dumping grounds had a scrap of white 
cloth tied onto a big shark hook. When he had this, he explained, he did not 
need bait. Somewhat skeptically, I hung it over the side. Sure enough, a large 
shark took the hook in a few minutes. 

We pulled him in, but he turned out to be a she. She was close to giving 
birth, so I cut her open carefully, performing a cesarean section with the 
bottom of our little rowboat as my operating table. Two lively pups emerged, 
each about 15 inches long. One leaped out of my hands, fell into the sea and 
swam away. It was a perfect cesarean, which I believe would have been a credit 
to any obstetrician. 

Home Port 

In the years that followed my stay in Cuba, there were fewer entries in my 
Log. I was growing old, happily growing old, with no regrets. But no longer 
were my hand and eye as swift as the shark, and I knew that it was only a 
matter of time before I would make that one mistake that would be my last. 
Reluctantly, I decided to give up shark-hunting. I became a lecturer on sharks. 
It was a poor substitute for shark-hunting, but I knew, as the years passed and 
I neared 70, that it was the only way. 

I had just about convinced myself that I would never again see a shark out- 
side an aquarium when World War II began, and I was summoned back to the 

I had two missions. I aided the Navy in its research to develop a repellent 
that would keep sharks away from fliers downed at sea. And I led a search in 
the Gulf of Mexico for sharks. Sharks were vitally needed during the war for 
the vitamin A in their livers, and even an old man could help. 

One beautiful day I was in the Gulf aboard the pickup boat that was carrying 
ice to the shrimp boat fleet. As we sailed along, I threw some chum over the 
stern, and dropped over a couple of hand lines. A shark took the moving bait. 
He came fast and he hooked clean. I was an old gaffer, and some of the younger 
men aboard tried to give me a hand. But I wanted to land this one alone. I 
pulled him aboard, trying not to look as if my arms were aching. I almost had 
to let go. But I kept on pulling, and I landed him. 

Sixty years had passed since that day off La Jolla when I looked over the 
side of the boat and saw my first shark. Now, as this big, gray beauty struggled 
on the deck, I looked at him and I knew that I was looking at the last shark I 
would ever catch. 

chapter 4 

Sharks on a Line 

One distant, unchronicled day in some 
prehistoric sea, man and shark met— and, 
incredibly, man triumphed. Since that epic day, men have been seeking 
the shark; and, not merely for food, for there have always been drab 
and feckless fish enough for food. Men have hunted down the shark for 
the matchless sport and keen-edged danger. 

We can today envision some of the early duels between shark and 
man in the Pacific. We have artifacts that have survived the participants; 
we hear the ageless tales that have been handed down from generation 
to generation of native fishermen in Japan, the East Indies, Polynesia, 
and Micronesia; and we can see the curious vestiges of ancient shark fish- 
ing still found today in the islands of the Pacific. 

One of the oldest devices for catching sharks in Micronesia is the 
shark snare, which has been used for centuries. The snare is a coarse 
rope of plant fibers, made into a noose. The noose is dropped in the sea 
from a canoe. The fisherman attracts sharks to the area by swinging a 
rattle— usually hollowed-out coconut shells or large sea shells threaded 
onto a stick. Small fishes or bits of meat are swirled in the water to 
further attract the shark, once the rattles have brought it near. Slowly, 
with infinite patience, the fisherman lures the shark's head into the noose. 
Suddenly, the noose is drawn tight, snaring the shark just behind the 
gill slits. Then, as the shark struggles in the noose, it is clubbed to death. 
The Maoris of New Zealand are said to have favored the noose method 
because they treasured the center tooth of the "w^^o" {Isurus sp.)^ as 
an ear ornament. The tooth might have been damaged if a hook were 

Some snare fishermen found that their hands were the most depend- 
able bait for sharks. While one occupant of a canoe trailed his hand 
along in the water, another man dropped a noose aft of the enticing 
hand. The shark swam into the noose in pursuit of the hand. Then, 
when the shark's body was well into the noose and the jaws near the 
hand, the noose was tightened and the man withdrew his hand. The 
hand had to be gently, slowly swished in the water. If the hand moved 

1 The name Mako is of Maori origin and applies in their language to this shark 
specifically. We have adopted it (in English) for the genus. 


A shark is caught by seamen in the days of sail. Sharks often trailed ships for weeks 
to pick up easy meals from refuse dumped overboard. From an old print 


Sharks on a Line 91 

slowly, so did the shark. If an unwary "baitsman" jerked his hand or 
made a sudden movement, the shark would strike— and snatch off the 

Some snares have a kind of float, a propeller-shaped block of wood 
whose upcurving ends resemble the hull of a boat. This block is deco- 
rated with ornamental carvings or paintings whose patterns are derived 
from some dimly remembered rituals involving fishing magic. For the 
hunting of the shark has long been involved in magic and religion. The 
mixture of sharks and sorcery is complex, and neighboring islands some- 
times show vastly different attitudes toward the shark. In the Tabar 
Islands of the Bismarck Archipelago off New Guinea, sharks are caught, 
but in the nearby Tanga Islands there is a long-standing taboo against 
the hunting of the shark, which is believed to be a dangerous wizard. 
There are reasonable grounds for this superstition, because snared sharks 
have frequently towed away their would-be captors' canoes and neither 
canoes nor canoeists were ever seen again. 

A dangerous variation of the snare was developed by some unsung 
primitive Pacific island fishermen. They would dive from a canoe to 
caverns in the reefs, where sharks sometimes rested with their heads in 
crevices and their tails sticking out. The diver would loop a noose around 
the shark's tail and signal, by tugging on the rope, to his confederates 
in the canoe. The startled shark would be hauled to the surface, tail first, 
and clubbed to death. This technique is still used by some natives in 
Papua and New Guinea. They also believe in the use of shark rattles— as 
does, oddly enough, A. M. Rapson, the Chief of the Division of Fisheries 
there. One theory is that the rattle sounds, to a hungry shark at least, 
like the excited cries of sea birds feeding upon a shoal of small fish, and 
the shark rushes to share in the feast. Native divers on Thursday Island, 
Australia, are afraid to go after crawfish (Spiny lobsters) in deep water 
because of another phenomenon of sound. The natives say the crawfish 
make a snapping noise with their tails when anyone tries to catch them— 
and this sound lures sharks like an underwater dinner bell. 

There is some evidence to suggest that crude hooks preceded the 
snare as an implement for catching sharks. Hooks made from human 
bones were common, and, in old Hawaii, a chief might will his bones to 
friends or personal servants so that they could fashion hooks from them. 
In some areas, the bones of great fishermen or brave chiefs were par- 
ticularly prized for hook-making. The hooks were made by drilling a 
series of holes along a line following the desired curve. This weakened 
portion was knocked out and the remainder was smoothed down. 

Other hooks were made of wood. A twig of a young ironwood tree 
was bent so that it curved back on itself. It was lashed in this position 
for a year or two, until it was more than half an inch thick. Then the 


Man Against Shark 

These primitive shark hooks from Tahiti and Hawaii were formed by lashing a young 
twig into a curved position, allowing it to grow the hook-curve permanently, then 
hacking the hook portion off the living tree. The point on the shark hook at the right 
is bone— possibly human bone, a favorite with ancient fishermen of the South Seas. 

Courtesy, Alinqvist & Wiksells Boktrycheri Ab from 
Contribution to the History of Fishing in the Southern Seas by Bengt Anell, 1955 

portion of the twig bearing the natural curve was hacked off the tree 
and fashioned into a hook. Sometimes a point of sharpened bone was 
lashed to the end of the hook. The hooks were baited with small fish, 
or even a piece of white tree bark, lashed to a fiber-strand rope, and 
usually trolled from a canoe. 

In New Zealand, among the Maori, shark fishing was once a religious 
ceremony supervised by a priest who stood atop a rock on shore and 

Sharks on a Line 93 

directed as many as a thousand men who set out to sea in big canoes 
on two specified days of the year. They hunted, on these appointed 
days, only one kind of shark— /^^pe?^, apparently a species of dogfish. 
Other species of sharks could be caught any time. 

In 1961, in the apparently civilized precincts of Lauderdale-by-the- 
Sea, Florida, there was a taboo on shark fishing. The taboo was inspired 
not by black magic, but by the even more potent talisman of the tourist's 
dollar. Fishing for sharks, barracuda, or sting rays in the territorial 
waters of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea was forbidden in 1961 because, in the 
words of Mayor G. H. Colnot, "the sight of them being caught frightens 
tourists and makes them believe our waters are infested with dangerous 
fish." The fact is that Florida waters are full of sharks. In one 6-month 
period, a shark-fishing club in Palm Beach, Florida, caught 21 sharks, 
averaging 318 pounds, right off the pier, near the world-famous bathing 

For years a Florida shark-fishing enthusiast has been pulling in sharks 
every Sunday by casting for them from Boynton Beach. The surf-casting 
sharker is Herb Goodman, a 5 foot-6 inch, 135-pounder who habitually 
catches sharks three or four times his own weight. Goodman fishes 
exclusively for shark, using a unique method. He attaches balloons to 
three big, baited 10/0 hooks, which are strung on a 130-pound test line. 
The balloons act as floats, carrying the hooks 1,000 feet out to sea on the 
swift-flowing currents of Boynton Beach Inlet. The hooks are baited 
with about 6 pounds of bonito, kingfish, or dolphin. When a shark 
strikes, Goodman works it in on a 9-foot glass rod, and the fight the 
shark puts up usually draws a crowd. Once, deciding to give the crowd 
a thrill, he decided to ride a 10-foot Hammerhead he had hooked and 
reeled in close to the beach. 

"I passed my rod and reel to someone else," Goodman recounted, 
"and climbed on the shark's back. A sudden swell tipped both me and 
the shark, and when he tried to right himself, he swished his tail and 
caught me across both my legs. My legs were covered with bandages 
for almost two weeks." 

That was the last time Goodman tried to ride a shark. 

Another unorthodox shark fisherman who hauled in sharks to the 
consternation of bathers was U.S. Marine Sergeant Richard C. Lawrence. 
His hunting grounds were the waters off Fort Weaver, Hawaii. Law- 
rence's fishing line consisted of an inner tube lashed to a piling on the 
Fort Weaver pier and attached to a 150-foot length of quarter-inch 
manila rope. Secured to the other end of the rope were 3 feet of V2-irich 
chain and a 4-inch shark hook. He threw the baited hook about 20 feet 
off the pier and just waited. Soon a shark grabbed the bait and tried 
to dislodge the hook by pulling on the line. The inner tube— and Sergeant 


Man Against Shark 

A fisherman holds a small Spiny dogfish {Squalus cubensis) caught in the Gulf of 
Mexico. Dogfish of similar species are found throughout the world, often in fantastic 
abundance. Tagging experiments have shown that some species travel at a rate of 
3 to 8 miles a day. One tagged specimen migrated from St. John's, Newfoundland, to 
Massachusetts, a distance of at least 1,000 miles, in 132 days. 

Courtesy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Lawrence— fought the shark. Lawrence has caught some 40 sharks, in- 
cluding a 1,950-pound, 17-foot Tiger, with his inner tube tackle. 

Sharks are hauled out of the surf at Long Island, New York, often 
before bathers' frightened eyes. Using conventional surf rods and reels, 
spooled with 220 yards of 45-pound test line, a surf caster can reel in 100- 
and 200-pound sharks, and occasionally 150-pound Sting rays, not far 
from one of America's biggest bathing spots, Jones Beach. Eel is a favorite 
bait of the Long Island surfcasters. 

Sharks are both liked and disliked in the waters around Long Island. 
Sports fishing parties, seeking game fish, are often plagued by packs 
of Dogfish which flock around the boats, snapping at bait and driving 
off game fish. Bigger sharks also rob fishermen of hard-won fish. It is 
not unusual for a Mako to snap 40-pound stripers right off a man's hook. 
A knowledgable angler in shark-prowled waters will release the drag 
and let a fish run if a shark of any kind is seen after a game fish is hooked 
—and before the fisherman strikes it. A hooked fish can, sometimes at 
least, outrun a shark that is pursuing it, and eventually, the game fish 
can be struck and reeled in. 

The game fisherman who ignores the shark as a game fish is passing 
up some of the best fighters— and most abundant big fish— in the sea. 
On the West Coast, sports clubs have been fishing sharks for years. One 

Sharks on a Line 95 

favorite spot is Monterey Bay, California, about 60 miles south of San 
Francisco. There, twice a year, shark derbies are held. Fishing begins 
at 7 A.M. and continues until 1 P.M. In those 6 hours, in a typical 
derby, fishermen will reel in about 150 sharks and rays whose total 
weight will be around 2,000 pounds. 

Sharks often come big— so big that they cannot be weighed on ordi- 
nary scales. Their size has to be figured out mathematically, by the 
formula given on page 314. And sharks are fast. The Great Blue is said to 
be able to reach speeds up to 20 miles an hour. A shark of unknown 
species was once speared by an underwater spear-fisherman off^ Cape 
Cod. A pursuing boat eventually overtook both the exhausted spear- 
fisherman and his apparently tireless quarry. The boat clocked the 
shark— and its human caboose— at 14 knots. 

One of the biggest sharks ever taken by a spear-fisherman was a 
1,400-pound Basking shark caught in 1955. About 25 yards off Santa 
Monica, the spear-fisherman. Bob Lorenz, spotted the huge shark. Lorenz 
was armed with a gun that shot steel darts with cables attached. 

"I got a good shot in, just ahead of the dorsal fin," Lorenz said. "The 
shark headed for the open sea, and sounded in about 10 feet of water. 
I followed the line down and hit him again, but it wasn't a good shot. 
His lashing tail stirred up the sand so that it was hard to see. The dart 
hit just forward of the tail." 

Lorenz continued the battle in his boat, a 30-foot cruiser. The cables 
were made fast to the boat, and the fish towed it for 90 minutes until 
Lorenz and three other men managed to pull it in and lash it to the 
side of the boat. It measured 13 feet, 9 inches. 

Neither the Basking shark nor the Whale shark is a game fish, but 
their sheer enormousness attracts fishermen interested in landing some- 
thing larger than anyone else has ever landed. Native fishermen in the 
Persian Gulf say they catch the Whale shark by rowing alongside its 
lazily moving hulk and then boarding it. A fisherman walks down to the 
torpid shark's mouth, stuffs a big iron hook into it, and then reboards 
the boat, which tows the shark ashore. 

Still, the Whale shark can give a ponderous battle, not between the 
sports fisherman and itself, but between itself and the fisherman's boat. 
One day, during the annual Bimini A4arlin Tournament in the Bahamas 
off Miami, a 45-foot cruiser, the Alberta, was searching for marlin. The 
biggest tackle aboard was a light rod spooled with 9-thread line. But 
when the skipper. Captain Johnny Cass, spotted the hulk of a Whale 
shark, he decided to try for it. 

Another boat had got a flying gaff into the 37-foot fish, but the gaff 
had hardly slowed it down. When the Alberta hove to, the skipper of 
the other boat told Cass he was welcome to try his hand at the shark. 

96 Man Against Shark 

Cass decided not to use the 9-thread line. He chose instead a 1^-inch 
line, a length of chain, and a grapnel. When the Alberta was directly 
above the huge shark, the grapnel and chain were lowered under its 
jaw, then jerked upward, so that the grapnel hooked into its neck. The 
shark thrashed, snapping the line that reached from the gaff to the other 
boat. But the Alberta'?, line held. Cass played the fish for about 3 hours— 
a 19-ton cruiser against a 10-ton shark. The shark was relatively lethargic, 
but each twitch of its great body shivered the Alberta. 

Two men were sent out in a small boat to make fast two heavy lines 
around the shark's tail. They managed to do it, though once their small 
boat was nearly swamped by a casual flip of the tail. Now secured, the 
shark was towed to Bimini, a 3^ -hour trip, during which the shark cum- 
bersomely struggled against the fetter of the lines. 

Cass made it to port, and with the shark he brought in an unusual 
record for a boat whose orthodox fishing tackle consisted of a 9-thread 
line and a light rod. Cass's record: the largest Whale shark ever caught 
without the aid of gunfire, harpoons, or a platoon of helpers. 

Another skipper who tangled with a Whale shark of about the same 
10-ton size was Captain J. B. Mathews of the Captain Bae Strickland. 
Off St. Petersburg, Florida, Mathews sighted a Whale shark. After snar- 
ing the shark by snagging a hook in its jaw, Mathews added a new 
twist. He had double-spliced 500 feet of %-inch manila line into the 
anchor cable of his 65-foot boat. He attached the line to the steel leader 
on the hook in the shark's jaw. Then, using the anchor windlass as a 
gigantic reel, he tried to play the shark. The shark would not play, 
however. It headed off with the power of a locomotive, and towed 
the Bae Strickland for 18 miles, and then, with one burst of energy, it 
parted the line and kept going without looking back. 

Hooking into a Whale shark is not a guarantee of a thrilling ride or 
several hours of a mighty tug-of-war. The Whale shark's inertia is often 
as massive as its bulk. For some reason, however, stories of exciting 
Whale shark encounters have a way of becoming more widely told than 
the dull ones. 

Zane Grey, for instance, once hooked a Whale shark off the tip of 
the peninsula of Lower California. He snagged its tail with a gaff hook. 
Grey later vividly described how the Whale shark tried for 5 hours to 
fight off capture, towing Grey's boat for miles. Finally, it plunged into 
the depths, running off some 1,600 feet of line before it tore out the 
hook. During the chase, or rather, the tow, harpoons were hurled at the 
shark. Grey said they bounded off the shark's thick hide or bent under 
the pressure exerted by harpooners trying to thrust them into the shark. 

Writing about effortless captures of Whale sharks and their "entirely 
inoffensive . . . sluggish" habits, E. W. Gudger, the outstanding au- 

Sharks on a Line 


This old print portrays fishermen landing the first Devil ray caught off Sydney, Aus- 
tralia, in 1868. Dr. Whitley identifies it as Daemomanta alfredi Krefft, 1868. He reports 
that it grows to a width of at least 13 feet. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

thority on the Whale shark, drily remarked, "Mr. Grey's fish seemingly 
was the mo:t active of any of which we have accounts." 

It must be said for Zane Grey, however, that he did go after real 
fighting sharks. And he probably did more to establish the shark as a 
game fish than any other angler. Like the 4-minute mile and the 7-foot 
high jump, the 1,000-pound shark stood for years as a seemingly unat- 
tainable goal for game fishermen. Gradually, as tackle and fishing tech- 
niques improved, the records went higher and higher: 800 pounds . . . 
900 pounds. Then, on March 11, 1936, a 996i4-pound Tiger shark was 
caught off Australia. The record stood but a month, for Zane Grey 
had arrived in Australia determined to land a 1,000-pound shark. He 
got one— a 1,036-pound Tiger shark. 

Since then, the records have been tumbling regularly, especially in 
Australian waters. One Australian shark fisherman extraordinary, Alf 
Dean, has caught the four largest fish ever taken on rod and reel— each 
a Great White and each weighing more than a ton. 

Dean, a genial, burly man who runs a small vineyard when he isn't 
shark fishing, caught his first shark in 1939. It weighed 868 pounds. In 
the years that followed. Dean's prowess as a shark fisherman increased, 
and so did the weight of his sharks. His fishing ground has been the 

98 Ma?i Against Shark 

Great Australian Bight, that huge, crescent-shaped curve along the 
southern coast of the continent. Great schools of fish sweep through 
the Bight, and, savagely competing for food among them, are innu- 
merable sharks, including some of the largest found in any sea on earth. 

In 1951, Sir Willoughby Norrie, governor of South Australia, caught 
a 2,225-pound Great White shark, at that time the largest fish ever 
landed with rod and reel. Dean was determined to beat Norrie's record, 
and, in 1952, he did. 

Dean's encounter with his first record shark began at 2 o'clock one 
morning when his hired boat was riding at anchor in the Bight after a 
futile, all-day search for sharks big enough for Dean's taste. A banging 
on the hull of the boat awakened him; he rolled out of his bunk with a 
flashlight, went on deck, and in the flashlight's beam caught the dorsal 
and tail fins of the biggest shark he had ever seen. The shark was 
violently nuzzling the boat, intoxicated by the scent of whale oil dripping 
from a tank in the stem. (Using whale oil, and an occasional bucketful 
of steer's blood. Dean lays down an alluring, provocative slick that sharks 
pick up miles away. They trail his boat, ravenous for the food promised 
by the savory scent of the wake.) 

All night long the great shark banged noisily against the side of 
Dean's boat. The maddening scent of food so excited the shark that once 
it grappled the propeller and shook the boat, as if to awaken the occu- 
pants to get the meal it yearned for. Soon after dawn. Dean dropped 
his line off the stern, and the shark took it, racing off 250 yards. The 
shark writhed and rolled. Once it leaped almost fully out of the water. 
But, by fighting on the surface instead of sounding, the shark soon tired. 
It was all over in about 45 minutes. The shark, a Great White, weighed 
2,333 pounds and was 16 feet long. The world's record belonged to Alf 
Dean! Less than a year later, he topped his own record by landing a 
2,372-pound Great White. 

On April 10th, 1955, Dean caught a 1,600-pound shark, lashed it to 
the side of the boat, and went off looking for something more worth 
while. Suddenly, a huge shark began to attack the captured 1,600- 
pounder. Oblivious to Dean, who clouted it with the handle of a gaff, 
it kept ripping big chunks out of the dead shark. Finally, the mate aboard 
the boat threw a set of baited hooks to it. The shark lunged for the line, 
but somehow managed to hook itself in the tail. Dean fought to land 
the shark, tail-hooked or not. It was impossible. He cut the line. Again, 
a set of hooks was cast out, and the shark grabbed for the bait, this 
time hooking itself in the mouth. Dean struggled for half an hour to set 
the hooks. They tore out, and the shark disappeared. 

The boat had gone about a mile from the spot where the shark first 
struck. Dean decided to head back to the spot and anchor. As soon as 

Sharks on a Line 99 

the boat anchored, the same shark— the cut line still hooked in its tail- 
reappeared. Dean tried again, and this time, after a fight of an hour and 
a half, he landed the persistent shark. It weighed 2,536 pounds. Dean had 
once more broken his own record. 

Dean broke his world record a fourth time, in 1959, when he landed 
a 2,664-pounder. But Dean's biggest fish, Hke the biggest fish of all fisher- 
men, was the one that got away. 

In Australia they call Alf Dean's biggest fish Barnacle Lil, for she is 
a female and she has broken the heart of many a shark fisherman. Dean 
met her one moonlit night in the Bight when she banged his boat and 
tore off a seal carcass, a piece de resistance Dean often hangs over the 
stern of his boat to lure sharks that follow his piquant wake. He got a 
look at her as she lingered near the surface a few yards from the boat, 
munching on the seal. He looked her over avidly and estimated her 
measurements: more than 20 feet long and at least 4,000 pounds. 

He lowered a new seal lure over the side. Near it he dropped his line, 
baited with his favorite shark bait, seal liver, skewered on two great 
hooks. Barnacle Lil charged for the hooks, the lure, the liver— every- 
thing, including part of the boat's transom. Through the spray churned 
up by her explosive lunge, Dean could see that she had the hooks in her 
mouth. He put his reel in gear and set the hooks. Time after time, she 
fought the hooks by rocketing to the surface, lifting her huge, graceful 
white body nearly out of the sea. Then she settled down, pitting her 
4,000 pounds of controlled fury against Dean's straining arms and ever- 
taut line. For two solid hours she fought. Then, slowly, foot by foot, 
turn by turn, he began reeling her in. 

He got her to the side of the boat. A crewman reached his gloved 
hands down to the wire leader attached to the end of the line. (Under 
game fishing rules, in order to claim a record, the fisherman cannot be 
aided until he brings his fish to gaff. At that time, another person can 
grasp the leader, but not the line. During a fight, no part of the fishing 
tackle may be touched by anyone except the fisherman.) But Barnacle 
Lil was not through. She suddenly found new strength and whirled 
seaward again, tearing the leader out of the boatman's hands. "Twenty 
men could not have held it," Dean later reported. 

Dean's hands were turning to mush. Blisters erupted and broke on his 
palms. His fingers, chafed raw by the constantly bobbing rod, were 
stiff with pain. His legs were knotted with cramps. The aching muscles 
in his back and arms seemed ready to burst. And the fight went on. 
One hour . . . Two hours . . . Three times Dean brought the shark 
to the boat. Three times the glistening leader cleared the water, and 
three times Barnacle Lil dashed out to sea with new strength! 

As the fight went into its fifth hour, Dean was seized by a new 

100 Man Against Shark 

torment, stomach cramps. Still in the bolted-down tractor seat he used 
for his fishing chair and still fighting the shark, he relieved the cramps 
somewhat by urinating in a can, a feat he never could figure out how 
he performed. 

After five and a half hours, Dean knew he could hold out no longer. 
But some tremor in the line, some mysterious signal he felt almost 
intuitively, told him that Barnacle Lil was tiring. Once more, with aching 
hands, he began to reel in. He got her to the boat, and the boatman 
began pulling up the leader. About 10 feet of the 30-foot leader were in 
the boat when Barnacle Lil made her last, wild try for freedom. She 
dove, straight down. The leader, snagged on the boat's pipe railing, 
followed the shark down and, in a flash, tore out 7 feet of railing, then 
snapped. The indomitable Barnacle Lil was free. 

Several big-game fishermen had sighted and pursued her before 
Dean had his frustrating affair with her; others have since given chase, 
but she has not yet been vanquished. 

There are many stories of sharks spoiling world's record catches of 
other game fish by gnawing on the carcass as the proud fisherman 
sails home with his prize attached to his boat. By the time the fish is 
strung up to be officially weighed, it has lost several pounds. Often this 
loss to ravening sharks has been enough to make a chewed-up also-ran 
out of a record-breaking fish. The most poignant story of a shark's 
theft of a record is told by Dolly Dyer, of Australia, undisputed champion 
woman shark fisherman. Mrs. Dyer and her husband Robert, between 
them, currently hold 16 world shark-catching records, attested by the 
International Game Fish Association. 

Mrs. Dyer landed a promising-looking Tiger shark a few years ago. 
To her expert eye, it looked to be at least 1,400 pounds. And it was 
there, right alongside the boat. Sharks did come to gnaw on it, but she 
successfully warded them off by personally clouting them on the snout 
with a gaff handle. She lost no precious poundage to them. A pinnacle 
record— the largest Tiger then ever taken by rod and reel by man or 
woman— seemed to be hers as her boat reached the dock. But, shortly 
before the dying Tiger was to be weighed to establish the record, it 
played a dirty trick on her. It gave birth to 40 pups. The loss of her 
progeny transformed the mother Tiger into an ordinary, non-record- 
breaking shark. 

Australia is not the only place on earth where record-making sharks 
are caught. Seventeen current shark records were achieved in the waters 
off Montauk, Long Island. Blue, Porbeagle, and Mako sharks abound 
there, and many of them are potential record-breakers. 

Long Island's shark fishermen say that the best times for catching 
the monsters are the days— and nights— around the full of the moon. 

Sharks on a Line 101 

After finding a place where bait-fish, such as whiting or porgies, are 
abundant, and the water 50 to 150 feet deep, they chum. Whalemeat is 
the favorite chum of Frank Mundus, Montauk's most famous and suc- 
cessful shark-fishing charter-boat captain. He also recommends using 
small, live fish for bait. On calm days, his advice is to fish close to the 
surface, using cork floats. When the sea is choppy, he suggests fishing 
about halfway down. 

Mundus tries to make shark fishing as sporting as possible by urging 
his patrons to fight their sharks standing up, in a belt harness, rather 
than in a fighting chair. He also prefers that they use nothing heavier 
than 45-pound test line. For real sport, his customers sometimes use 30- 
or 20-pound test line. The Mundus-preferred tackle is a heavy-duty 
star drag reel and a glass rod. Aboard Mundus' "monster-fishing" boat, 
Cricket II, fishermen have also been known to use crossbows and arrows 
on sharks. 

"Of all the game fish in the sea, none— when fighting the hook and 
line— can outjump the Mako shark," one of Mundus' passengers ecstati- 
cally reported, telling how a Mako (I sums oxyri?ichus) ran out 100 
yards of line from Mundus' boat, then made four successive vertical 
leaps 10 to 15 feet out of the water. It is fight such as this that has given 
the Mako a reputation as one of the gamest fish in the sea. 

"The Mako shark, which can jump as high as any fish, run faster 
than most, and pull as hard as any, seems to me to be a true fighter," 
Ernest Hemingway wrote of this aggressive shark. "He will deliberately 
leap at a man in a dory who has hooked him on a handline ... I have 
seen a Mako, after being clubbed and tied up, come out of the effect of 
his clubbing and wait quietly until someone would come within range 
of his jaws." 

The Mako shark of the western Atlantic is a very close relative of 
the Blue Pointer (I sums glaucus) of the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, 
which is also sometimes called a Mako. The Blue Pointer, in turn, is a 
name given by some South African fishermen to the shark elsewhere 
known as the Great White, called in Australia the White Death or White 
Pointer. The mix-up in nomenclature stems from confusion over the 
word mako, which originally was a Maori word for a certain kind of 
shark. Out of all this confusion, one thing is certain: the Blue Pointer of 
South Africa, by any name, is a fighter. And the pursuit of it has produced 
some of the most exciting battles in the annals of shark fishing. 

The scene of these battles is the South Pier of Durban, which stretches 
out from the beach for about 700 yards. The pier, made of great con- 
crete blocks, is about 40 feet wide. More blocks have been dumped, 
helter-skelter, along both sides of the pier and around its tip. They are 
covered with seaweed and barnacles and provide a precarious perch 

102 Man Against Shark 

for fishermen. When he hooks a shark, a fisherman must simultaneously 
fight the shark and fight to keep from falling into the sea. Then, to 
beach the shark, he must stumble along the blocks, working his way 
back the length of the pier to shore. A misstep can send him plunging 
into a maelstrom of swift currents and voracious sharks, lured to 
Durban harbor by the scent of whale carcasses towed into port by 
whaling ships. 

Brian Bernstein, a veteran fisherman at the age of 15, may serve as 
an example. At the age of 7, Brian caught his first fish, a 15-pound 
salmon. At the age of eleven, he caught his first shark, a 20-pound 
Hammerhead pup. By the time he was 14, he had caught several little 
Hammerheads, some Small Black-Tipped sharks (called Gray sharks in 
Durban) and a few Milksharks (Scoliodon ivalbeehmi), which never 
grow to more than 4 feet. One of his Gray sharks was a 444-pounder, 
a respectable size, especially considering that Brian weighed 140 pounds 

The Blue Pointer of Durban harbor is a match for any fisherman. 
It is a ferocious fighter and, though its Durban alias masks its man-killing 
notoriety, it is indeed the dread Carcharodon carcharias— the Man-eater, 
the White Death, the Killer. Brian's first Blue Pointer was a 430-pounder, 
which, by the standards of the South Pier shark aficionados, is a small 
one. It had not given Brian a great fight— again, by South Pier standards. 
But, in a patronizing sort of way, he was welcomed, at 15, into the 
informal fraternity of Blue Pointer hunters. 

A few days after he caught his first Blue Pointer, Brian was out on 
the seaward corner of the South Pier again. At 9:30 a.m., a shark took 
his bait and streaked 500 yards seaward. Only 200 yards of line, strained 
to the breaking point, remained on the lad's burning reel. He succeeded 
in preventing the shark from ripping out the rest of the line. But the 
battle was far from over. It took six hours of fighting to land that 764- 
pound shark (another Blue Pointer), and, before the duel ended, Brian 
had used every trick known on the South Pier. He had run up and 
down the pier, struggling to keep the shark from running out to sea. 
He had "winched"— that is, he squatted down, crooked his right leg 
around the butt of his rod, and rested the rod on his left leg. Then, with 
both hands, he arduously turned the reel. At one point in the battle, the 
boy had even shouldered his rod like a rifle, turned his back to the 
water, and dragged against the shark, as a plowhorse strains against the 
plow. This is real shark fishing. 

No shark hooked off the South Pier is an easy catch. Every battle is 
exciting and unpredictable, for inevitably the angler must clamber over 
rocks and struggle along the pier to land his shark. Under the code of 
the pier, no one may aid him— unless, which is unthinkable, he asks for 

Sharks on a Line 103 

help— until the wire leader is near enough to grasp. It is also considered 
cricket to muster help for getting a rope around the shark and hauling 
it up to the pier. These post-battle tasks are not always easy. 

One day, Peter Botha was out at the end of the pier when another 
fisherman caught an 800-pounder, which was technically landed, except 
for the fact that it was lodged in some rocks a few feet off the pier. Botha 
jumped out on the rocks, one hand holding onto the wire leader, the 
other grasping a gaff. He leaped atop a small rock and, just as he lunged 
to gaff the shark, a wave smashed over his perch and hurled him into 
the sea, directly in front of the jaws of the thrashing shark. Luckily, 
Botha had not lost his handhold on the leader. Hand over hand, he 
pulled himself along the leader and got back on the rocks. 

A year after this incident, Botha found out what can happen to a 
person who strays near the jaws of a killer shark. He caught a 600- 
pounder and cut it open. In its belly he found the head, right arm, and 
part of the backbone of a man. 

Colonel Hugh D. Wise, who long and avidly fished for several 
species of sharks along the Atlantic coast of the United States, says 
some sharks were fast, some struck savagely and then ran, and some 
were just plain mulish. All, however, exerted formidable pulls on the 
line. Curious about the force of these pulls. Wise set up a novel experi- 
ment to determine how hard a shark pulls. From his boat, he hooked 
some sharks on a thick rope that was threaded through a spring scale 
held by two men in the boat. Wise found that a 230-pound Sand shark 
8V2 feet long could exert a 110-pound pull— about .48 of a pound of pull 
for each pound of its weight. When the shark tired, the pulls dropped 
drastically to feeble surges averaging a mere 18 pounds. Wise reported 
that sharks use their maximum strength sparingly, and rest frequently 
from their exertions. 

"It is interesting to consider this in comparison with the wild and 
almost continuous fury of the swordfish," Wise noted,^ "but also let 
it be remembered that it is this intermittent resting which adds to the 
difficulty of conquering the shark." 

The Sawfish and six species of shark— Blue, Mako, Great White, 
Porbeagle, Thresher, and Tiger— are recognized as game fish by the 
International Game Fish Association, which sternly authenticates world 
game-fish records. Anglers are beginning to recognize sharks too. Fish- 
ing clubs devoted exclusively to shark-catching have been attracting 
anglers from Florida to New Zealand. 

Members of the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain, who fish the 
sharky waters off Looe in Cornwall, have been reeling in more than 

2 Hugh D. Wise, Tigers of the Sea (New York: Derrydale Press, 1937). 


Man Against Shark 

A Great Blue shark {Prionace glauca) is hauled aboard the boat Paula oflF Looe, 
Cornwall, England. Thousands of sharks— mostly Great Blues— are caught off Looe 
each year by members of the Shark AngHng Club of Great Britain. 

Courtesy, The Field Magazine 

5,000 sharks— mostly Makos and Great Blues— a year. One Looe sharker 
in a single day landed 44 Great Blues, whose total weight topped a ton. 
A champion Looe fisherwoman, Mrs. Hetty Eathorne (weight 108 
pounds) has caught a record Great Blue (1,671 pounds). She never wears 
a harness. "I fish only for sport," she says, "and this way it gives the 
shark a better chance." 

A shark fisherman never knows what he is going to haul in when 
he hooks a shark. Dr. C. T. Newnham, regional medical officer for the 
Western Region of the British Transport Commission, for instance, was 
presented with a maternity case when he landed a shark off Looe. 

"It was noticed on landing that she was 'fat-bellied' [a term used 
by local fishermen] and also that there was a healing gaff wound towards 
the tail," Dr. Newnham reports in his account of what he calls a case, 
not a catch. "Apart from these two observations, there was nothing 
particularly unusual about the captive. As is customary, the shark was 
killed by hitting it several times on the head with a truncheon carried 
for this purpose, and then, when movements ceased, the hook and trace 
were cut out and the body put under the floorboards of the well of the 
deck. In an attempt to rid itself of the hook, the shark had obviously 
tried to vomit, as, when caught, the everted stomach was protruding 
from the jaws. (This is not an uncommon thing to happen.)" 

Sharks on a Line 


Dogs confront a shark which is being brought aboard H.M.S. Challenger, the converted 
British man-of-war which logged 68,350 miles in an epic oceanographic voyage that 
began in 1872 and lasted three and a half years. From an old print 

When the boat started heading home for Looe, the seemingly dead 
shark was removed from under the floorboards to be washed down. 
The man who washed the shark noticed that something was emerging 
from her, and the call went out for Dr. Newnham. 

"Within a very short space of time," the doctor noted in his clinical 
report on the case, "the tail of the first baby shark presented itself. This 
was rapidly followed by a further four babies and two spherical bright 
yellow objects which were enclosed in loose folds of membrane and 
which were taken to be placentae. . . . 

"Each of the first five baby sharks born was alive and made swimming 
movements in the fluid which was escaping from the mother and which 
had changed in appearance and become far less viscous and clear. Pal- 
pation of the abdomen suggested that there were more to come and, by 

106 Man Against Shark 

exerting slight pressure, a further six or seven babies were born. It was 
noticed with interest that each one arrived tail first. During the course 
of a few minutes the remainder of the babies— there were 22 in all- 
were bom, and at no time was any movement of the mother noted, nor 
was there any contraction of the abdominal muscles or waves of uterine 
contraction, such as seen in a human." 

As the ship entered port, two yellow pennants flew from her mast, 
the customary sign that two sharks had been caught. And fluttering 
beneath the pennants was a string of tiny flags made of rags and brown 
paper. By the time the ship reached Looe, all the sharks were dead. 

Dr. Newnham concludes the report on his case with this note: "On 
arrival in Looe harbour the usual ceremony of weighing and photo- 
graphing was gone through and the mother was found to weigh 100 
pounds exactly and the 22 babies, six and three-quarter pounds. Whilst 
the mother was suspended by a hook in the lower jaw during the weigh- 
ing, another baby shark fell out. But this was dead on arrival. It was 
subsequently learned that a post-mortem examination had revealed two 
further dead babies, but the author was not present at this examination 
because the interests of science were forgotten in the celebration of this 
interesting adventure." 

An angler who returns from a shark fishing trip may not always bring 
back a fish story as good as Dr. Newnham's. The chances are good, 
though, that even the shore-hugging fisherman who seeks sharks will 
not have much trouble finding them. There are plenty of sharks near 
shore, and a fisherman needs only a small boat, an outboard motor, and 
savvy to get them. (One such American spot is the Delaware Bay: 300- 
pound Sand sharks have been reeled in there by fishermen in 14-foot 

Along the entire coastline of the continental United States, and in 
the waters of Hawaii and Alaska, there are sharks waiting to be caught 
by fishermen with strong arms, strong backs— and great expectations of 
the unexpected. 


Sharks of truly monstrous weight, length, and girth have been har- 
pooned, trapped in nets, shot or gaffed to death while snared, caught 
on long-lines, and hauled in by anglers aided by one or more companions. 
But the sharks listed here have been caught on lines by anglers and sport 

What follows is the roll of the premier amateur shark fishermen— 
and fisherwomen— of the world, anglers who have reeled in, without 
aid, on regulation tackle, and according to the strict protocol of game 
fishing, sharks of record size. 

Sharks on a Line 107 

The records are kept and authenticated by the International Game 
Fish Association (IGFA), the arbiter of official, world-record catches 
of all game fishes. The IGFA recognizes the Sawfish (Pristis pectinatus) 
and seven species of sharks as game fishes. Of the 49 types of game 
fishes listed in the 1961 All-Tackle Records of the IGFA, the only bony 
fish which comes close to the record sharks in size is the Black Marlin. 
(The record Black Marlin weighed 1,560 pounds and was 14 feet, 6 
inches long. The record shark, a Great White, weighed 2,664 pounds 
and was 16 feet 10 inches long.) 

The shark species recognized by the IGFA, and the common and 
scientific names under which they are listed in IGFA records are: 
Blue shark (Prio?iace glauca), Mako shark {I sums oxyrhynchus or 
Isurus glaucus), Man-Eater or White shark (Carcharodon carcharias). 
Porbeagle shark {Lamna nasus). Thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), and 
Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvieri). 

The 1961 shark records as listed by the IGFA follow. They include 
the All-Tackle Records for both men and women, the All-Tackle Records 
for women, and records based on line size, the system the IGFA uses 
in classifying catches according to the tackle used. The women's records 
in all line-test classes are also listed. 

Note: All the following records are based by the IGFA on line tests. All records 
where the name of the angler is followed by (*) were arbitrarily assigned to their classes 
on a 3-pound wet test to a thread. No further claims will be accepted by the IGFA unless 
accompanied by a sample for testing of the actual line used in the catch: 10 yards up to 
and including the 30-pound class; 30 yards in the 50-pound class and over. Records in 
the 180-pound class are kept, but not listed, except in All-Tackle Records. 


Man Against Shark 



S, ^ 

































>— > 
































































































































































































Sharks on a Line 


12-PouND Line Test Records f 
{Both Men and Women) 









169 lb. 

8 ft., 
11 in. 


N. Y. 


James F. 


261 lb., 
11 oz. 

7 ft., 
4 in. 


N. Y. 


C. R. Meyer 


66 lb. 

5 ft., 
10 in. 

28 in. 



Dr. Phil 


66 1b. 

4 ft., 
10 in. 

30 in. 

N. Y. 




40 1b. 

6 ft., 
1 in. 

a in. 



Ernest R. 
Braun, Jr. 


92 lb., 

4 ft., 
9 in. 

31 in. 

Long Beach, 


D. F. Marsh 

t Up to and including 12 pounds. 

12-PouND Line Test Record f 








A ngler 


52 lb., 
5 oz. 

4 ft., 

27 K 

N. Y. 


Anne Bow- 

t Only woman's record in 12-Pound Line Test Class. 

110 Man Against Shark 

20-PouND Line Test Records f 

{Both Men and Women) 







A ngler 


218 1b., 
2 oz. 

9 ft., 
9 in. 

42 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 


M. B. 



242 lb., 
12 oz. 

8 ft., 
1 in. 

44 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 


M. B. 


Man-Eater. . . 

1,068 1b. 

12 ft., 
6 in. 

77 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Robert Dyer 

Porbeagle. . . . 

180 lb. 

8 ft., 

37 in. 

Block Island, 
R. I. 


Frank K. 


81 lb., 

6 ft., 
7 in. 

30 in. 

Santa Cruz, 


E. G. Volpe 


341 lb. 

10 ft. 


Cape Moreton, 


Robert Dyer 

t Over 12 pounds, up to and including 20 pounds. 

20- Pound Line Test Records 







A ngler 


204 lb. 

9 ft., 
9 in. 

34 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 




150 1b., 
8 oz. 

7 ft., 
1 in. 

37 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 


Mrs. M. B. 

Man-Eater. . . 

369 lb. 

9 ft., 
3 in. 

57 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 

Sharks on a Line 


30- Pound Line Test Records f 
{Both Men and Women) 







A ngler 


284 1b., 
8 oz. 

10 ft., 
8 in. 

42 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 




322 lb. 

9 ft., 
1 in. 

42 in. 

Elberon, N. J. 


W.J. Mahan 

Man-Eater. . . 

1,053 lb. 

12 ft., 
8 in. 

68 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Robert Dyer 


145 lb. 

10 ft. 

40 in. 

S. Africa 


R. C. Wack 


362 lb. 

11 ft., 
2 in. 


Cape Moreton, 


Robert Dyer 

t Over 20 pounds, up to and including 30 pounds. 

30-PouND Line Test Records 







A ngler 


284 lb., 
8 oz. 

10 ft., 
8 in. 

42 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 




191 lb. 

7 ft., 
3 in. 

40 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 


Mrs. Lee 


803 lb. 

12 ft., 
5 in. 

70 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 

112 Man Against Shark 

50-PouND Line Test Records f 
{Both Men and Women) 







A ngler 


334 lb. 

10 ft., 
9 in. 

43 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 





683 lb., 
12 oz. 

11 ft., 
9 in. 

4 ft., 
9 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 


R. P. Alex 


1,876 1b. 

15 ft., 
6 in. 


Cape Moreton, 



Robert Dyer 

Porbeagle. . 

366 lb., 
8 oz. 

8 ft., 
4 in. 

46 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 


D. P. Walker 

Sawfish .... 

721 lb. 

15 ft., 
5 in. 

71 in. 

Fort Amador, 
Canal Zone 


Jack D. 

Thresher . . 

338 lb. 

12 ft., 
8 in. 

Port Stephens, 


G. Partridge 


1,018 1b. 

13 ft., 
3 in. 

68 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Robert Dyer 

t Over 30 pounds, up to and including 50 pounds. 

50- Pound Line Test Records 







A ngler 


298 lb. 

11 ft., 
6 in. 

40 in. 

Montauk, N. Y. 





478 lb. 

11 ft. 

46 in. 



Mrs. Ron 

Man-Eater. . . 

801 lb. 

11 ft., 
3 in. 

75 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 


248 lb. 

12 ft., 
1 in. 

40 in. 



Mrs. Ron 


458 lb. 

10 ft., 
7 in. 

57 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 

Sharks on a Line 


80- Pound Line Test Records f 
(Both Men and Women) 







A ngler 


410 1b. 

11 ft., 
6 in. 

52 in. 




Richard C. 


745 lb. 

9 ft., 
5 in. 

6 ft., 
21^ in. 

Shinnecock In- 
let, N. Y. 


H. Hinrichs * 

Man-Eater . 

2,071 lb. 

15 ft., 
9 in. 

98 in. 

Cape Donning- 
ton, Aus- 


J. Veitch 

Porbeagle . . 

260 lb. 

11 ft., 
4 in. 

68^ in. 

S. Africa 


J. L. Daniel 

Sawfish .... 

890 lb., 

16 ft., 
1 in. 

92 in. 

Fort Amador, 
Canal Zone 


Jack D. 

Thresher. . . 

413 lb. 

15 ft. 

49^ in. 

Bay of Islands, 
New Zealand 


Mrs. E. R. 


1,305 1b. 

13 ft., 

86H in. 

Coogee Wide, 



* See p. 107 for explanation. f Over 50 pounds, up to and including 80 pounds. 

80-PouND Line Test Records 








A ngler 


144 lb., 
8 oz. 

8 ft., 
3 in. 

38 in. 

Looe, England 



Mako (Tie) 

553 lb., 

554 lb. 

9 ft., 
10 in. 

10 ft., 

68 in. 
65 in. 

Cat Cay, 

N. Y. 


Mrs. H. 

Stringer, Jr. 
Mrs. R. 


912 lb. 

11 ft., 
11 in. 


Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 


413 lb. 

15 ft. 

49 H 

Bay of Islands, 
New Zealand 


Mrs. E. R. 


871 lb. 

12 ft., 
6 in. 

70 in. 



Mrs. Robert 

114 Man Against Shark 

130- Pound Line Test Records f 

(Both Men and Women) 







A ngler 


258 lb. 

10 ft., 
1 in. 


Block Island, 
R. I. 




1,000 1b. 

12 ft. 

Mayor Island, 
New Zealand 


B. D. H. 
Ross * 


2,664 lb. 

16 ft., 
10 in. 

9 ft., 
6 in. 

S. Australia 


Alfred Dean 


271 lb. 

8 ft., 
2 in. 

49 in. 

Looe, England 


Mrs. Hetty 


736 lb. 

14 ft., 
7 in. 

Galveston, Tex. 


G. Pangarakis 


922 lb. 

Bay of Islands, 
New Zealand 


W. W. 

Dowding * 


1,422 lb. 

13 ft., 
7 in. 

95 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


J. H. 


See p. 107 for explanation. t Over 80 pounds, up to an including 130 pounds. 

130- Pound Line Test Records 








A ngler 


134 lb. 

7 ft., 
81^ in. 

44 in. 

Looe, England 


Mrs. Daphne 



858 lb. 

11 ft., 
7 in. 

64 in. 

Cavalli Island, 
New Zealand 


Mrs. Rita 


1,052 lb. 

13 ft., 
10 in. 



Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 


271 lb. 

8 ft., 
2 in. 

49 in. 

Looe, England 


Mrs. Hetty 


729 lb. 

8 ft., 
5 in. 

61 in. 

Mayor Island, 
New Zealand 


Mrs. V. 


1,314 lb. 

13 ft., 
9 in. 

89 in. 

Cape Moreton, 


Mrs. Robert 

chapter 5 

Anti-Shark Warfare 

Christmas was 12 days away. The sound 
of carols was wafted among the shoppers 
along the streets of town. Choirs were rehearsing for their Christmas 
Eve concerts. And children were playing, not in snow, but in the surf. 
For this was Christmas time in Hawaii, and the temperature hovered at 
around 80 degrees. 

It was Saturday, December 13, 1958, and 15-year-old Billy Weaver 
and five pals were in the surf off Lanikai, a long, wide stretch of beach 
east of Honolulu. 

"All of us surfed for a while," one of the boys, Terry Oakland, aged 
14, said later. "Billy was on an air mat. We had just caught a wave, all 
except Billy, and rode a short distance. We were about 50 yards from 
Billy when we saw him slide off his mat into the water." 

Terry said he was within reach of Billy before he realized that his 
pal was not playing a prank. Billy was being pulled under by a shark. 
As Terry neared him, he heard Billy scream: "Help!" 

Billy bobbed to the surface. "There was blood all in the water and his 
leg was cut off," Terry said. 

The boys tried to keep Billy afloat and get him ashore. But he slipped 
from their grasp and, as he sank beneath the water again, they saw a 
shark move in toward him. 

The boys rushed ashore and summoned help. Soon, boats were 
swarming around the waters of Lanikai searching for Billy's body— and 
a shark. The searchers found both. A shark nearly 20 feet long appeared 
among the boats. And, wedged in a hole in the reef off the beach, about 
7 feet beneath the surface, was Billy's body, the right leg gone up to the 

The next day, Sunday, Lanikai beach gleamed under a bright sun. 
The sea was smooth. But there were no water-skiers on it. There was 
a gentle breeze. But no one was sailing. The water was clear. But no 
one was skin-diving or surfing. "We'll wait about three weeks," a teen- 
ager on the nearly deserted beach said. "Then, if nothing has happened, 
we'll start surfing again." 

There was no panic, for Hawaiians have learned to live with sharks. 
Though sharks were no novelty in Hawaii, a shark attack was. Since 


116 Mail Agiihist Shark 

Young Lang Hedemann looks into the gaping mouth of an 11-foot, 2-inch Tiger shark 
(Galeocerdo cuvieri) caught in an Hawaiian shark hunt by his father (behind Lang) 
and three others. The shark weighs 700 pounds. It was caught in the same Hawaiian 
shark-hunting campaign inspired by the fatal attack on Billy Weaver. The shark shown 
was caught less than 1,000 yards from the spot where Billy Weaver was killed. 

Courtesy, Honolulu Star -Bullet in 

1886, there had been 16 known shark attacks in Hawaiian waters, and 
only 5 had been fatal. But, even before Billy Weaver was killed, there 
had been a growing apprehension about sharks in Hawaii. For six months 
prior to the boy's death, a research vessel had been hunting sharks around 
Oahu. The vessel had been scheduled to hunt off the Lanikai area early 
in December. The trip had been canceled because of heavy weather. 
And now it was too late. Billy Weaver was dead. 

Within two days after Billy was killed, community leaders and gov- 

Anti-Shark Warfare 117 

ernment officials met to plan an attack on the sharks that menaced the 
island of Oahu. The plan called for the extermination of the sharks. 
A research vessel was sent to Lanikai two days after Billy was killed. 
Three Tiger sharks-one 12 feet long and weighing 800 pounds-were 
caught, along with two Sand sharks. That was only the beginning. A 
Billy Weaver Shark Control Fund was started to finance the catching 
and destruction of sharks menacing the inshore waters. Solicitors went 
from house to house on Oahu to raise funds. As an added inducement 
to the shark hunt, a merchant offered a $20 bounty for any shark caught 
in Oahu's inshore waters, and a jewelry company said it would pay 25 
cents for each shark tooth a hunter brought in. 

Under the chairmanship of Kenneth M. Young (a nephew of one 
of the authors, Captain Young), $27,476 was raised. The money was 
used for the chartering of a boat, the Holokahana, which was to make 
circuits of Oahu, killing as many sharks as possible, until the money 
ran out. Each shark was to be examined by a marine biologist. The 
shark-killing was not inspired by vengeance. Not only would the shark- 
catching produce new information about sharks, it was also hoped that 
the pressure of constant fishing would cut down the population of 
sharks around Oahu. 

Holokahana means "hard worker" in Hawaiian, and the boat lived up 
to its name. On its shakedown cruise, it caught 63 sharks in 48 hours. 
The sharks were caught with specially designed shark lines— a main 
line of half-inch manila rope about a half-mile long, from which were 
suspended 24 hooks. The line was anchored at each end and buoyed by 
floats to prevent the hooks from fouling on the bottom. Three such lines 
were laid parallel with the shore, left overnight, and then hauled up. 

The skipper of the Holokahana was Fred Inouye, vice president of 
Hawaii Marineland and a veteran sharker who had 5,000 kills to his 
credit when he took the shark-hunting Holokahana on its four circuits 
of Oahu. During the year-long campaign, 697 sharks and 641 unborn 
pups were captured and destroyed. One Tiger (Galeocerdo cuvieri) was 
carrying 57 pups when she was caught. At least nine species were taken— 
including a Six Gilled shark (Hexanchus sp.), a species which had never 
before been recorded in Hawaiian waters. Also caught was a Bramble 
shark (Echinorhinus sp.), the second ever caught in those waters. The 
first had been reported 30 years before. 

The hard work of the Holokahana showed that constant fishing pro- 
vides some defense against sharks. On each trip around Oahu, the 
Holokahana found fewer sharks. But it is expensive— it cost about 
$2,200 a month in Oahu, and that is only one of Hawaii's eight major 

A war of annihilation cannot go on forever, and if it stops, the sharks 

118 Man Against Shark 

start appearing again. The Soupfin shark {Galeorhinus zyopterus) was 
practically exterminated off California during the vitamin A "gray gold 
rush" of the 1940's. After a couple of years of relatively light fishing, due 
to the slackening demand for shark-liver oil, the Soupfin again became 

"It must be remembered above all," warns Dr. Perry W. Gilbert, 
chairman of the Shark Research Panel, "that sharks are unpredictable. 
Moreover, we know relatively little about the behavior patterns of sharks, 
about the environmental conditions which compel a shark to attack, and 
about the conduct of a swimmer which may provoke a shark to attack." 

With this warning in mind, let us take a look at some weapons, new 
and old, in man's age-long war against dangerous sharks. Several methods 
of making beaches— and individual bathers— safe from sharks have been 
tried. All have been found to be far less than perfect, but some still offer 
some hope of shark defense. Many seem to work, but their apparent 
efficacy may be mere luck. 

In 1934, after a series of fatal attacks around Sydney, Australia, a 
Shark Menace Committee was appointed to investigate ways to rid the 
beaches of sharks. The committee eventually recommended that nets 
be strung to catch sharks cruising along the beaches every night and 
then be removed the following morning. The scheme was called "mesh- 
ing" by the committee. It was called "a stupid, futile waste of money" 
by one of its many critics. Because of the criticism, and because govern- 
ment funds to finance meshing were slow in coming, this effort to protect 
the bathing beaches did not begin until 1937. 

Since then, however, there has not been a recorded shark attack at 
a meshed Sydney beach. 

For several years, counts were kept on the number of sharks en- 
meshed in the nets. From December 1, 1939 to December 1, 1940, a 
total of 751 were caught. The following year, 705 were caught. No 
meshing was done during World War II, but even by 1948 the annual 
number of sharks caught was down to 260. Since then, the number of 
sharks caught each year has continued to decrease. The general as- 
sumption is that the shark population is decreasing also. There was a 
time when a dozen or more sharks would be caught overnight in a single 
net. Today, the nets are often empty for days at a stretch. Yet, barely 
a mile off the beaches, sports fishermen still regularly catch sharks 12 
to 1 5 feet long. 

The meshes used around Sydney today are great nylon mesh nets 
500 feet long and 20 feet deep. The area is not actually enclosed; the 
meshes are anchored outside the breakers athwart the probable paths 
of sharks. The bottoms of the nets are weighted to keep them on the 
sea floor. Glass floats strung along the top of the nets keep them vertical. 

Anti-Shark Warfare 119 

This diagrammatic view shows how the shark meshing net system is used to protect the 

swimming area at Port Stephens, New South Wales, Austraha. Once a shark's head 

is through the net, it is trapped because its gill sHts are snared and a shark is physically 

unable to back up. Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 

The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

Heavy anchors at each end hold them in position. The fishermen who 
have the government contract to keep Sydney's beaches shark-free are 
not permitted to set baits to attract them. Nor are they paid by the 
number of sharks caught. They get a flat annual fee, and government 
inspectors regularly accompany them in meshing trips to make sure that 
they are fulfilling their contract. Sharks are often drowned in the nets, 
their gills unable to function. Those that are still alive when the mesh 
is cleared are killed, and their carcasses towed to sea and dumped. 
(Though Australians do eat sharks, they abstain from eating dangerous 

North of Sydney, and along the rivers, estuaries, and harbors of the 
eastern coast of Australia, sharks still attack swimmers. In an average 
year, at least one swimmer is killed in Australian waters unprotected by 

Meshing cannot be effective under all conditions. Heavy seas wash 
the nets away. If the nets are not properly located along shark pathways, 
they are inefiFective. Meshes sometimes keep sharks within a bathing area, 
a chilling fact which has been proved by finding sharks that had been 
snared in the nets as they attempted to travel away from meshed beaches. 

In 1952, after 35 shark attacks in 10 years, authorities in Durban, 
South Africa, decided to try meshing. In previous years, going back 
to 1907, they had tried practically everything else, from shark watch- 

120 Man Against Shark 

towers on the beaches to a permanent enclosure, which was repeatedly 
smashed by waves and in almost constant disrepair. 

The Durban nets are set about 800 yards off the beach, parallel with 
it. Since the nets were installed, no bather has been attacked in Durban. 
Careful records have been kept on the number of sharks netted each 
year. In 1952, a total of 602 sharks were caught. A year later, the number 
had dropped to 158. Since 1952, the average number has been about 170. 

Dr. David H. Davies, director of the Council of the South African 
Association for Marine Biological Research, took a hard look at the 
Durban meshing. As a marine biologist and a specialist in sharks, he was 
baffled by the apparent effectiveness of the meshing as a shark barrier. 

"There is no really satisfactory explanation for the success," Dr. 
Davies reported. "Although the nets extend for a considerable distance 
parallel to the bathing beaches, they do not form a continuous wall, and 
at all times sharks are able to penetrate the area between the beach and 
the nets by swimming between separate nets or round the ends. Sharks 
have been found to have been gilled on either side of the nets when 
traveling both toward and away from the beaches. 

"The only reasonable explanation for the success of the set-net system 
seems to be related to the already established fact that it is possible to 
reduce a shark population by systematic netting. This has been shown 
in commercial shark fisheries in various parts of the world . . ." 

Echoing Gilbert's words, Davies cautioned that "no completely re- 
liable system has yet been devised for the protection of humans against 
shark attacks." But, marine scientists have known for years that elec- 
tricity often has weird effects on fish. In an experiment in Austraha 
more than 20 years ago, an 11 -foot shark was seemingly paralyzed by an 
electrical barrier. When the current was turned on, the shark would not 
move; when the current was turned off, it swam away. 

More elaborate electrical experiments have been conducted on bony 
fishes. When current is passed between two electrodes, with fish between 
them, it has been observed that the fish turn to follow the current toward 
the positive pole. The current does not attract them. Methods of using 
electricity for commercial fishing have not been practical so far in salt 
water because of the large amount of current required. Better success 
has been had in fresh water, especially in Russia. 

Davies and Dr. J. P. Lochner of the National Physical Research 
Laboratory in Pretoria, South Africa, recently tried an "electric fence" 
on sharks. It seemed to work, they reported. Although they stressed 
that their experiments were only preliminary, they found that an elec- 
trical current passing between two electrodes acted as a barrier to sharks. 
They also found that an electrical charge strong enough to turn back a 
shark was not so strong that it would give a swimmer much discomfort. 

Anti-Shark Warfare 121 

In November, 1961, John Hicks, a skin-diver turned inventor, dem- 
onstrated a "shark-shocker" in the shark channel of the Miami Sea- 
quarium. Witnesses reported that 40 to 50 sharks in the channel rapidly 
swam away from a dangled chunk of fish when Hicks switched on his 
electronic gadget in the water. Hicks said he and his twin brother, 
Robert, had spent 6 years developing the shocker, one version of which 
is contained in an 11 -ounce package. He said he hoped to sell the device 
to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for use by astro- 
nauts. Representatives of the space agency witnessed the demonstration, 
which ended when a big shark of unidentified species nearly capsized 
Hicks' one-man life-raft with its tail as it rushed away from the raft. 
Hicks said he had planned to leap into the channel in a rubber suit to 
demonstrate the device, but Seaquarium officials refused to give him 
permission, which is a pity, because it looked quite effective. 

It was August, 1960, when John Brodeur was attacked by a shark in 
waist-deep water off a resort hotel beach at Sea Girt, New Jersey. One 
of Brodeur's legs was so badly mauled that it had to be amputated. A 
week after the attack, with shark-panic still gripping New Jersey and 
most of the eastern seaboard, the proprietor of the resort hotel announced 
that he was going to keep sharks away from his beach with a "bubble 
fence." The fence consisted of a perforated pipe laid on the ocean floor 
between two jetties that jutted out 250 feet from the hotel beach, where 
the attack on Brodeur had occurred. Compressed air was pumped through 
the pipe, causing a curtain of bubbles to rise from the holes. The in- 
ventor of the bubble fence was said to have boasted that "sharks are 
so terrified by the 'shark fence' they will not even cross it to get a juicy 

The fence was said to have been tested against "60 large sharks" 
which "refused to crash past the barrier to reach food on the other 
side." Resort owners saw the bubble fence as the long-awaited answer 
to how to keep sharks from coming to ocean beaches, and how to keep 
bathers from staying away. 

Some people were unconvinced by the "tests" of the bubble fence. 
One of these skeptics was the Shark Research Panel's chairman. Dr. 
Gilbert. He noted that reports of the tests did not mention the species 
of sharks that were reputedly repelled, their length, the distance of the 
bubble curtain from the wall of the aquarium where the test was con- 
ducted, or the time of day or night when the tests were held. 

Gilbert decided to test the bubble fence himself in the special shark 
pens at the Lerncr A4arine Laboratory on Bimini Island in the Bahamas. 
Two pens were built with funds provided by the Office of Naval Re- 
search. Each is about 40 by 8 feet. They arc next to a dock at the 
laboratory. At high tide, the water in them is 7 feet deep. 


Man Against Shark 

The dorsal fin of a Tiger shark ( Galeocerdo cuvieri ) parts the "bubble curtain" as the 
shark passes through the bubbles, in tests showing the ineffectiveness of the "curtain" 
as a shark barrier. The tests were conducted by Dr. Perry W. Gilbert, chairman of the 

Shark Research Panel. Courtesy, Dr. Perry W. Gilbert 

Two types of bubble fence tests were conducted in the pens. In 
one, a bubble curtain was extended halfway across one pen. In the other, 
a F-shaped curtain was arranged, with an 8-foot gap of quiet water at 
the apex of the V so that both pens formed an 80-foot "fish trap." If 
the F-shaped bubble curtain were effective, the sharks would be fun- 
neled by it from one end of the pen, through the quiet-water gap, to the 
other end of the pen. 

In all the tests, Gilbert used Tiger sharks, ranging in length from 5% 
to 1 3 feet and weighing from 95 to 900 pounds. During the first 4-minute 
period of the first test, two Tigers seemed to be turned away by the 
bubble curtain that extended halfway across the pen. Ten Tigers passed 
through the bubbles "seemingly undisturbed," according to Gilbert. 
In a second 4-minute test, one Tiger appeared to be turned away and six 
passed through the bubbles. 

In a 15-minute test using the F-shaped barrier which would theoreti- 
cally funnel the sharks toward one end of the pen, the sharks "promis- 
cuously swam back and forth through the bubble curtain." 

To confirm his findings, Gilbert tried a 26-hour test of the F-shaped 
bubble curtain. Sharks passed through it in both directions, with the 
number apparently increasing as they became accustomed to the cur- 
tain's presence. During one 10-minute period in which a careful count 
was taken of the number of times sharks passed through the bubbles, 
the "fence" was breached 77 times. 

Anti-Shark Warfare 123 

"It would appear from these data," Gilbert reported, "that the bubble 
curtain is ineffective as a barrier to Tiger sharks ... It is highly prob- 
able . . . that some of the sharks which seemingly were repelled . . . 
normally would have turned in this area of the pen anyway." 

Other methods for repelling sharks have been tried but with equal 
lack of success. Let us take a look at some, starting with the most im- 

A great crowd gathered along the waterfront of Margate, South 
Africa, one day in 1958, for a spectacular show was going on about 
1,000 yards from shore. The frigate Vrystaat of the South African Navy 
was depth-bombing sharks. Geysers of water shot into the sky as the 
Vrystaat set off 25 depth charges. Seven sharks were counted dead. And, 
though a score of about 3^/4 depth charges per shark does not sound 
impi-essive, a newspaper reported, "There is every reason to believe 
that the operation will be a great success." 

Actually, there is every reason to believe that the unusual naval 
warfare against the shark attracted far more sharks than were killed. 
An underwater explosion will kill bony fish over a wide area. Their 
swim bladders burst from the concussion. Sharks have no swim bladders, 
and they are impervious to any explosion except a virtually direct hit. 

The bony fish stunned or killed by an explosion immediately lure 
sharks to the area. An eyewitness to such a phenomenon reports that 
sharks converged to feast on the wounded and dead fish within 20 sec- 
onds after an explosion. The British Shallow Water Diving Unit at 
Nassau in the Bahamas reported: "We threw TNT blocks into the water, 
and within five minutes of the explosion the area was full of sharks feeding 
on the dead fish. They averaged about 6 feet, the biggest being 8 feet. 
It was a remarkable sight." 

Survivors of the torpedoing of the U.S. Destroyer-Escort Frederick 
C. Davis on April 25th, 1945, during World War II, told of sharks appear- 
ing and attacking survivors after two depth charges on the sunken ship 
had gone off underwater. The muffled explosions, not strong enough to 
cause much injury among the men in the water, indirectly killed many 
of them because the explosions brought more sharks to the scene— and 
the scene was the center of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The chemical shark repellent was bom as a wartime weapon to be 
used not only against sharks, but also against fear of reputedly shark- 
infested waters. Anxious mothers wrote their Congressmen about the 
sharks, and even the President received similar worried letters. Service- 
men who should have been worrying about survival in combat were 
being unnerved by dread of an enemy more horrifying than a man with 
a gun. 

Fear of death by bullet or bomb did not seriously weaken morale, 

124 Man Against Shark 

but fear of death in the jaws of a shark could not be driven off by 
brave words. "Reports of shark attacks on members of our combat forces 
have created a wartime sea-survival problem that cart no longer be 
neglected," an Army Air Corps bulletin warned. "The possibility of 
attack is a growing hazard to morale." 

Dr. Harold J. Coolidge, on leave from Harvard to work in Washing- 
ton on high-level public information problems arising from the war, also 
believed that worry over shark attacks was having a bad effect on morale 
both at home and overseas. Coolidge took the problem directly to the 
White House level and suggested that a scientific investigation be made 
into the feasibility of a chemical shark repellent. President Roosevelt 
himself reportedly ordered that the top-priority project be started im- 

There were grumbles from some military leaders who apparently 
felt that the diverting of any manpower or money into the shark-re- 
pellent project was a waste of resources vitally needed for activities 
more directly concerned with the fighting of the war. Navy officials 
argued that, since shark attacks were rare, it was a psychological mistake 
to overemphasize the menace, and make sailors and others even more 
aware of it. But proponents of the shark repellent won out with the 
argument that the lessening of anxiety was an important factor in 
survival, and, if a man in the water knew he had some kind of protection 
against sharks, he could devote more of his strength and wit to keeping 
himself alive. 

The job of finding a way to deter shark attacks was handed to W. 
Douglas Burden, president of the Marine Studios in Florida. Because the 
war had forced the closing of the Marine Studios, Burden conducted 
his first experiments at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 
Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Three Smooth Dogfish (Mustelus cams), 
each about 3 feet long, were placed in laboratory tanks. They were killed 
with poisoned food. But this did not have much significance. What was 
needed was something that would drive sharks away from food. The 
successors to the first three Dogfish were subjected to supersonics, 
stink bombs, chemical irritants, and a variety of ink clouds. Nothing 

Seventy-eight different substances— including several poison gases- 
were tried out before the scientists experimented with one that was 
literally right under their noses. It was nothing more than "essence of 
dead shark." As one of the authors and other shark fishermen long be- 
fore had discovered, if they left sharks hanging on their hooks long 
enough for the bodies to decompose, live sharks avoided their odorous 
brethren. The Woods Hole sharks also turned tail when the scientists 
confronted them with an offering of very dead shark meat. 

Anti-Shark Warjare 125 

But a 3-foot Dogfish in a laboratory tank is not a 20-foot Great 
White shark charging a man in the open sea. So the experiments were 
shifted to Florida, where the researchers hoped to test their potential 
repellent against real man-eaters. 

They couldn't find any sharks! 

The scientists, aided by local fishermen, scoured the Florida coast 
from St. Augustine to Jacksonville. No sharks. Navy and Coast Guard 
submarine-chasers were assigned to hunt sharks in Cuban waters. No 
sharks. Ernest Hemingway offered his services, and gave the frustrated 
shark hunters some locations where he had caught sharks. There were 
no sharks to be found, at least in the numbers the repellent project 

The problem became a matter of international diplomacy. On De- 
cember 1, 1942, Secretary of State Cordell Hull cabled the American 
Embassy at Quito, Ecuador. After briefly describing the shark project, 
Hull ordered: 

"... You are requested to secure permission from the Ecuadorian 
government for the . . . necessary investigation of the territorial waters 
of Ecuador . . . You are also authorized to transmit reports from the 
investigators via diplomatic pouch. Please take up this matter on an 
urgent basis and report by telegraph." 

Even with the aid of the United States Department of State and the 
government of Ecuador, the shark hunters could not find sharks. Near 
the island of La Plata, 25 miles off the coast of Ecuador, sharks had dis- 
rupted a dolphin-hunting expedition two years earlier by massacring 
all the dolphins the hunters caught. This would seem to make La Plata 
a good place to find sharks. But the frustrated shark hunters got only 
an occasional one there. They moved on, from one place to another, and 
the sharks still eluded them. 

They finally found a spot, near the mouth of the Guayaquil River, 
and there, for 16 days, the scientists tried out their "dead shark" re- 
pellent. Actually, the repellent was the chemical equivalent of what 
seemed to be the ingredient in decomposed shark that was so repulsive 
to live sharks. This chemical— copper acetate— produced startling re- 
sults. Sharks struck again and again at baited lines unprotected by the 
repellent. But they avoided the adjacent baited line, identical with the 
others except for the repellent, which was suspended in a bag directly 
above the bait. 

Convinced that the repellent worked on individual sharks, the ex- 
perimenters next tried it on a pack of sharks in a feeding frenzy. Samples 
of the repellent were dispatched to St. Augustine, Florida. The shrimp 
fishermen who work off^ the St. Augustine coast throw away as "trash" 
small fish that have been scooped up with the shrimp, and the cleanings 

126 Man Against Shark 

from the shrimp. As the shovelfuls of trash are dumped into the sea, 
schools of sharks gather behind the boat and excitedly feast upon the 
fishermen's largess. 

In a classified report on the use of the repellent against shark packs, 
one of the researchers said: "Sharks were attracted to the back of the 
shrimp boat with trash fish. The sharks appeared as a slashing, splashing 
shoal. We prepared a tub of fresh fish and another tub of fish mixed with 
repellent powder ... I shoveled over the plain fish for 30 seconds while 
the sharks, with much splashing, ate them. Then I started on the re- 
pellent fish and shoveled for 30 seconds, after which I shoveled plain 
fish for 30 seconds, repeating the procedure three times. 

"On the first trial the sharks were quite ferocious in feeding on the 
plain fish right at the stem of the boat. They cut fish for only about 
five minutes after the repellent mixture was thrown over. A few came 
back when the plain fish were put out immediately following the re- 
pellent. On a second trial 30 minutes later, a ferocious school fed for 
the 30 seconds that plain fish were supplied, but left as soon as the re- 
pellent struck the water. There were no attacks on fish while the re- 
pellent was in the water. On the third trial we could not get the sharks 
nearer than 20 yards to the stern of the boat." 

The repellent appeared to be an astounding success. The government 
ordered a crash program for manufacturing it in cakes to be attached to 
lifejackets. Copper acetate was mixed with a nigrosine-type dye, which 
released a blue-black cloud. Compressed into a cake that was packed into 
an envelope, the repellent was eventually attached to the lifejackets 
issued to servicemen. They were instructed to open the envelope and 
swish the cake around them when threatened by sharks. The repellent 
would diffuse in the sea and surround the swimmer with a cloud of dye 
and copper acetate. 

The shark repellent was classified a military secret, and its produc- 
tion was not disclosed to civilians who wondered what the awful 
smell was around the Borden Company's Shark Industries Division plant 
in Salerno, Florida. Borden, which had been catching sharks to extract 
vitamin A from their livers, boiled down shark meat in great vats to 
extract the essence of the repellent. (The Borden dead-shark repellent 
manufacturing was soon supplemented by mass production of the chemi- 
cal repellent.) 

The repellent, dubbed "Shark Chaser," was issued as part of all Mae 
West (lifejacket) and life-raft equipment. How effective it was will 
probably never be known. Thousands of men were set adrift in seas all 
over the world during the war, and undoubtedly the repellent provided 
them with at least an important psychological weapon against sharks. 
"Beyond question, the greatest value of the Shark Chaser was the mental 
relief and sense of security it afi^orded the men who had it on hand," 

Anti-Shark Warfare 127 

observed Dr. Llano, the Air Force research specialist who made the pre- 
viously mentioned exhaustive studv^ of wartime survival at sea. 

After the war, the product was marketed commercially, without great 
success, by the Shark Chaser Chemical Company of San Pedro, Cali- 
fornia. Two of the authors made extensive efforts to gather information 
about the repellent's effectiveness, both for protecting swimmers and for 
protecting fishermen's nets against sharks. Their efforts were notable for 
their failure to gather any credible evidence whatsoever as to the efficacy 
of the product. 

The Presto Dyechem Company of Yonkers, New York, now manu- 
factures Shark Chaser for the armed services. In 1961, this company, 
which said it manufactures the product under exclusive license, an- 
nounced that the repellent had been released for civilian use. (The an- 
nouncement failed to note the previous public sale of the repellent by the 
California firm, or the fact that it had long been sold by dealers in sur- 
plus property who had acquired repellent packets from government 
stocks.) The company, in 1961, began advertising Shark Chaser in pack- 
ets for skin-divers, and Shark Chaser in liquid or packet form to protect 
commercial fishermen's nets from sharks. 

Shark Chaser was also sold to protect beaches. In the summer of 1961, 
Maurice J. Fleischman, city manager of Long Beach, Long Island, an- 
nounced that the beaches of his town were going to be "sharkproofed." 
The sharkproofing would be done in this way: when a shark was sighted, 
or when the Coast Guard notified lifeguards, in some way, that sharks 
were in the vicinity, the lifeguards would tow 720-foot lines, to which 
canisters of repellent were attached, into the surf, and anchor them be- 
yond the bathing area. They would, as quickly as they could, string the 
lines along 2,400 feet of the town's beaches. The repellent would diffuse 
in the water, and the swimmers would be protected from sharks; or at 
least that was the hope. "Visitors to Long Beach this summer may be 
assured they will be protected from the perils of shark attack," the city 
manager stated. He did not speculate on the possibility that the repellent 
line might actually fence sharks within the bathing area. 

Soon after Long Beach announced its sharkproofing plan, Howard B. 
Reiffel, the president of Presto Dyechem, appeared in New Jersey to 
explain the workings of the repellent to 1 3 New Jersey sea resort offi- 
cials, some of whom, only a year before, had been pondering the erec- 
tion of bubble fences along their beaches. Reiffel estimated that a dozen 
canisters of Shark Chaser strung from a line parallel to shore could pro- 
tect about 200 feet of beach for about 9 hours. 

The product being sold commercially as Shark Chaser is identical 
with the repellent issued to U.S. servicemen who fly over, or who may 
have to abandon ship in, shark-menaced waters. Packets of it are also 
attached to the life jackets of astronauts. 

128 Man Against Shark 

How good is Shark Chaser? Like any question associated with sharks, 
this one has a variety of answers. 

Developed in a wartime crash program during which there was Uttle 
time for extensive testing (as it was, the repellent was not issued until 
late in the war). Shark Chaser was not tried on enough sharks under 
enough conditions to satisfy careful scientists. 

When several sharks are in a feeding frenzy, for instance, nothing 
seems strong enough to repulse them. 

Burden, one of the developers of the repellent, said: "Let us assume 
that a lot of blood has gotten in the water prior to the introduction of 
the repellent material. Let us assume further that voracious sharks are 
present in large numbers. Under such circumstances sharks have fre- 
quently been seen biting at oars and boats, with such savage determina- 
tion that they completely ignored heavy blows. This would seem to in- 
dicate that at some point in the characteristic shark-feeding program, 
the olfactory sense no longer plays a dominant role and is superseded by 
a mob-impulse in which visual and auditory senses both have probably 
played a part. This mob-impulse might be likened to the stampede be- 
havior in animals. Under these conditions it is very doubtful if any chem- 
ical repellent would inhibit their feeding behavior thoroughly." 

Burden believed, however, that "the sense of smell initiates the sub- 
sequent feeding pattern, so that if this behavior can be arrested at the 
outset through a repellent, the more violent aspects of it could not come 
into being." 

This may have been the case in a test of the repellent conducted by 
the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1945. In a fishing ground off Massachu- 
setts, shark repellent was spread around the nets of a Gloucester mackerel 
seiner, the Angle and Florence. The Fish and Wildlife Service reported: 
"In spite of the abundance of sharks, the Angle and Florence received 
no damage to its nets, and caught about 58,000 pounds of mackerel. 
Other boats fishing in the same area, but without protection against 
sharks, averaged only 5,000 to 25,000 pounds of fish, and suffered severe 
damage to their nets." 

That was in 1945. Only in recent years have marine biologists begun 
to probe very deeply into why and how a shark responds to food, in- 
cluding human prey. It has been learned, for instance, that the shark 
may vary its feeding pattern from a slow, determined assault on the food 
to an attack consisting of rapid, seemingly wanton bites. But little is 
known about what triggers these different modes of feeding— or attack- 

The Shark Chaser repellent consists of about 20 per cent copper 
acetate, believed to be repugnant to sharks, and about 80 per cent nigro- 
sine dye, which diffuses in the water as a blue-black cloud similar to 
the inky fluid ejected by squids when they become alarmed. 

Anti-Shark Warfare 129 

Since the time the repellent was developed, the formula has remained 
the same. Many marine scientists have suspected that the formula could 
be improved, their suspicions being based on reports of the repellent's 
dubious effectiveness. For example, the repellent was tried by champion 
Australian sharker Bob Dyer on packs of sharks in waters bloodied by 
whales killed by professional whalers. Some of the sharks were repelled; 
some actually ate the packets of repellent in their frenzy! 

In correspondence with the authors, the British Admiralty reported 
that repellent tests the British conducted were inconclusive. The British 
Medical Journal said that the efficacy of repellents "is rather doubtful." 
The Royal Air Force said that repellents are not in general use for RAF 
fliers. Tests of repellents at the Point Cloates whaling station in Western 
Australia "proved ineffective." Ward, Brooke and Company, Ltd., the 
British chemical firm which manufactures the same repellent under a 
government formula, wrote: "The common opinion is that whilst it 
bolsters morale its effectiveness is in some doubt." Stewart Springer of 
the Shark Research Panel, who worked on the original research that de- 
veloped the repellent during the war, today doubts whether repellent is 
even the correct word. "It probably should be called a feeding ijihibitor,'" 
Springer says. 

In its 1958 diving manual for frogmen and helmet divers, the U.S. 
Navy warned that "shark repellents are useless" when sharks "are hunt- 
ing in packs and food or blood is present." 

The British Shallow Water Diving Unit at Nassau tested shark re- 
pellent under conditions that would be more pertinent to skin-divers. 
The British reported: "The use by us of shark repellent [copper acetate] 
did not prove anything. It does not seem reasonable to suppose that a 
shark in the fury" of an attack would pause or retreat from its headlong 
rush for food because it did not care for the smell of the repellent. Again, 
if the repellent were effective it would be only so down tide." 

Dr. Albeit Tester, a University of Hawaii zoologist, summed up the 
reports on shark repellents by saying: "I do not think at the present 
time that we have a sure-fire repellent of any kind. There are sharks and 
sharks. One repellent may work with the Tiger shark, but not with the 
Gray sharks we have here in Hawaii. Another may work with the Gray 
and not on the Tiger." 

Concerned about the skepticism that had been developing over shark 
repellents, in 1958 the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Tulane 
University, and the Office of Naval Research called a conference on 
shark repellents. Shark experts from the United States, Australia, Japan, 
and South Africa attended. The consensus of the conference, as reported 
by Lester R. Aronson, a specialist in animal behavior and a member of 
the staff of the American Museum of Natural History, was: "Reports 
indicate that under certain conditions it [Shark Chaser] may not be effec- 

130 Man Against Shark 

five, and many of those who are required to depend upon this preparation 
for their personal safety do not have the necessary confidence in it." 

Shark experts at the conference even suggested that, since strong 
stimuli generally repel and wesk ones attract, a dilute solution of a re- 
pellent might actually have a reverse action and act as an attractant. 
This was one of the many puzzling aspects of sharks and repellents which 
led the experts to realize that research into a new kind of repellent was 
not enough. The shark itself had to be studied, and attacks on men had 
to be examined for clues to shark behavior. Thus, out of the quest for a 
more effective repellent, the Shark Research Panel evolved. 

Perry Gilbert, the SRP chairman, decided to test Shark Chaser. "Al- 
though 'Shark Chaser' performed admirably in various tests," he said, 
"subsequent accounts of its effectiveness as a shark repellent by airmen 
and skin-divers have been conflicting, and a re-evaluation and more 
rigorous testing of this repellent is now needed." 

Gilbert, Michael Lerner, and Dr. Evelyn Shaw made the tests at the 
Lemer Marine Laboratory, The tests, on Lemon and Dusky sharks, "sug- 
gest that copper acetate may not be as repugnant to the sense of smell of 
a dangerous shark as was originally believed," Gilbert reported. 

In the tests, a lure (usually fresh beef blood in a porous container), 
suspended from a line on a long bamboo pole, was presented to sharks in 
the experimental pens for 10 minutes. The sharks "readily" approached a 
lure "through a cloud of copper acetate." But, when Shark Chaser was 
used, "the sharks repeatedly avoided the lure." 

"This suggests," Gilbert said, "that possibly the 'Shark Chaser' dye 
is more repellent to sharks than is the copper acetate . . . The value 
of copper acetate as a shark repellent is open to serious question." 

Researchers are now trying to find a better shark repellent. They 
are experimenting with many substances, such as the poison emitted by 
the sea-cucumber. Until a better shark repellent is developed, the best 
that can be said of the combination of copper acetate and nigrosine-type 
dye is it sometimes seems to repel certain sharks under some conditions. 

Whether strung along a beach or on a skin-diver's weight belt, its 
effectiveness may be conditioned not merely by its ingredients, but also 
by the mood and hunger and type of shark that approaches. 

Captain Cousteau, the man who so rightly said that one can never 
tell what a shark is going to do, once had an opportunity to try just about 
every piece of advice that has ever been given on what to do when 
approached by a shark. He and a companion, Frederick Dumas, were 
skin-diving off the Cape Verde Islands when they were confronted by 
three sharks, one of which seemed determined to attack them. 

Cousteau and Dumas flailed their arms, released bubbles from the 
air tanks, yelled underwater, and released shark repellent. The shark came 
ever closer. Finally, Cousteau banged the shark on the snout with his 

Anti-Shark Warfare 131 

camera. The shark swam past, and began circling again. The other two 
sharks approached. The three sharks continued to menace the divers until 
their boat approached and apparently frightened the sharks away. 

From then on, Cousteau and Dumas carried "shark billies," clubs 
4 feet long, studded with nails at one end. They planned to use them 
because, as Cousteau says in his book. The Silent World: "After seeing 
sharks swim on unshaken with harpoons through their heads, deep spear 
gashes on their bodies, and even after sharp explosions near their brains, 
we place no reliance in knives as defensive arms." 

At the time he wrote, Cousteau had never used the billy, so he had 
no way of knowing its effectiveness. "It may," he wrote, "prove to be 
merely another theoretical defense against the creature which has eluded 
man's understanding." 

All defenses against the shark are theoretical. But some defenses that 
have been suggested by self-proclaimed experts are not merely theoreti- 
cal; they are virtual incitements to suicide. 

Item, from a skin-diver magazine: "You can actually swim up to a 
Nurse shark and kick it without eUciting harm to your person. Try it 
some time." 

Item, by the author of a book on skin-diving: "If a shark comes too 
close, put your head under water and yell as loud as you can, 'Go away, 
you bum! Get lost!' He can't hear you, but he can feel the vibrations. 
If he still comes on, hit him on the nose . . ." 

Item, from a skin-diver magazine: ". . . If hand-to-shark combat be- 
comes necessary (a most remote possibility), avoid those snapping jaws 
by stiff-arming, the brute's long nose. Use your knife in the gill slits or 
slash him across the back of the neck ... If you are caught without a 
knife, jam your fingers into his nostrils or gill slits, if possible, hang on 
to the pectoral or side fin as long as you can hold your breath." 

If the survival of swimmers confronted by sharks depended on gross 
misinformation such as this, there would be few survivors. The man who 
provokes a shark— any shark— does so at peril of his life and/or limbs. 
Men have provoked, ridden on, stabbed, and hit sharks— and lived. So, 
too, have men lived after hurling themselves from tall buildings, throw- 
ing themselves under the wheels of trucks, and shooting themselves in 
the head. 

Hitting or stabbing a shark is suicidal unless it is the last, desperate 
act of a man fighting to live at the moment that comes when he is facing 
death. Captain Jonathan Brown, commander of an Air Force C-124 
Globemaster which crashed in the Pacific in 1958, was one such man. 

He and two other members of the crew of nine survived the crash. 
The three men fashioned a raft out of a piece of wood and buoyed it 
up with mail sacks. They clung to this during the night. At dawn, the 
sharks appeared. For a while, shark repellent seemed to keep them away. 


Man Against Shark 

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134 Man Against Shark 

Then they came closer. "We'd do a lot of yelling and the sharks 
would back off and look the situation over," Brown said later. "We don't 
know how many there were. I don't know how big they were. They 
seemed to be attracted to anything of light color. We were wearing black 
socks and our flight suits, which was a help." 

One of the sharks seemed to single Brown out. It charged him. "The 
shark had me by the shoulder and was shaking me," Brown said. "We 
yelled, thrashed and kicked about in the water trying to get rid of it. 

^''Finally, I beat on its head with my fist and it let gor 

Brown's last act of defense worked. The shark swam off, though it 
remained nearby in the water, along with others, until, after 12 hours 
amid the circling sharks, the three survivors were rescued. 

The desperate yet purposeful defense Captain Brown and his com- 
panions put up shows the only kind of thinking that gives a man a chance 
in the water against an attacking shark. No defense guarantees survival, 
for the odds are against a man who is facing an onrushing shark. 

Shadows beneath the surface are what we most often see when we 
are privileged to see a shark or a skate or a ray. When you see a shark's 
dorsal fin cutting a wave above the surface, beware! That shark is hunt- 
ing and he may be looking at you for a meal. Unless it is the fin of a Basket 
sunning himself and lazily straining plankton, it is probably one of several 
species of sharks that are known or suspected to be aggressive hunters. 
It may be wary in its approach or it may be direct in its attack. Do not 
be lulled into security if you see no fin. Many shark attacks have been 
made by a foraging shark that was not seen until the moment of its at- 
tack—and often not until after it attacked. 

The authors subscribe to the beUefs of some of the leading explorers 
of the underwater world who have made long observations of the be- 
havior of sharks in their own habitat, that all must be considered as 
individuals. This does not preclude the observation that there are species 
that are peaceful in their way of life and species that are more aggressive. 
But, it does imply that individuals of any species should be treated 
with respect and caution. 

In its instructions to its frogmen and divers, the U.S. Navy gives a "dan- 
ger rating" on 12 large sharks. The ratings range from "minimum danger" 
to "maximum danger." As long as you remember that any shark can be 
dangerous, especially when provoked, the Navy guide is not a bad index 
to the relative known ferocity of the larger sharks. But the index should 
not leave the implication that sharks not on it are harmless.^ 

With the admonition, then, that the Navy is describing only how dan- 
gerous some sharks can be, we reproduce the guide on pages 132 and 133. 

1 The sharks mentioned in the Navy guide are described in Chapters 11 and 12. 

Part 5 

-^•^ Man and Shark 

chapter 6 

Shark Devils 
—and Gods 

As the Greeks wrote their myths in the 
constellations, Orion, the mighty hunter, 
wheeled across the winter sky in eternal, futile pursuit of Taurus, the 
great bull, and Leo, the couchant lion. But long before the Greeks 
looked skyward and evolved their myths, primitive men discerned in 
the flickering patterns of the stars cosmic enactments of their fearsome 
struggles with their own devil-god— the shark. 

The stars the Greeks saw as Orion's Belt were to the Warrau Indians 
of South America the missing leg of Nohi-Abassi, a man who had got 
rid of his mother-in-law by inducing a murderous shark to devour her. 
As legions of men were to learn in the ages to come, Nohi-Abassi learned 
that it does not pay to provoke a shark— or a mother-in-law. His leg 
was cut off by his sister-in-law, apparently playing the role of a shark, 
and Nohi-Abassi died. His leg wound up in one part of the heavens; 
the rest of him in another. 

To some primitive men, the shark was a vengeful god; to others, the 
shark was a cunning devil. In many primitive religions, the worship of 
the shark grew so complex that the shark had several roles: sharks be- 
came men, men became sharks. On many a Pacific island, the awesome 
deity could not be satiated by the occasional man, woman, or child he 
snatched from the sea in his inscrutable forays. The shark-gods then 
demanded the ultimate homage: human sacrifice. The chief or the high 
priest of some islands went among the people at this fateful time. An 
acolyte accompanied him, carrying a noose similar to a shark snare. At 
a signal from his leader, the acolyte hurled the noose at a crowd. The 
person— whether man, woman, or child— around whom the noose fell 
was immediately seized and strangled. The body was ritualistically cut 
into pieces and flung into the sea for the ravenous shark-gods. 

In the Solomon Islands, deified sharks lived in sacred caverns built for 
them near shore. In front of these caverns were erected great stone altars 
upon which were placed the bodies of chosen victims. After mystical 
ceremonies, the bodies were then given to the sharks. Some sharks in the 



Man and Shark 

Gilbert Islanders brandish swords studded with sharks' teeth. Pacific islanders 
fashioned several types of weapons using shark teeth. Islanders in the photo 
are wearing helmets of porcupine fish skin and coir armor. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

Shark Devils— and Gods 139 

Solomons were regarded as incarnations of dead ancestors. These were 
good sharks, which would help their relatives. Alien sharks, who ven- 
tured into the islands on evil missions, were thought to be malevolent. 
But fishermen could supposedly drive these evil sharks away by brandish- 
ing before them small wooden statues representing the native sharks. 

Vietnamese fishermen still refer to the Whale shark as Ca Ong, or 
"Sir Fish." Small altars imploring Ca Ong's protection can be seen on 
sand dunes along the central and southern Vietnamese coast. 

Woven into the rich tapestry of Hawaiian legends are many tales 
of sharks— tales still told by venerable kanakas, repeating the words 
heard from the lips of their fathers' fathers, who lived when myths 
shrouded the islands, as the mists still shroud the Hawaiian dawn. 

/ loill tell yoUj the storyteller will begin, oj Kamo-hoa-Ui, the king of 
all the sharks . . . 

Kamo-hoa-lii, so the old, old tale goes, fell in love with a maiden, 
Kalei, whom he saw swimming in the sea. Kamo-hoa-lii transformed 
himself into a man, married Kalei, and fathered a child. Ka?fW-hoa-lii 
then returned to the sea as a shark. The child, Nanaue, looked like any 
other child— except that on his back he bore the mark of his shark-father, 
the mouth of a shark. Although Kamo-hoa-lii had warned that the child 
must never be fed the flesh of an animal, the taboo was broken, and 
Nanaue thus learned the magic of making himself into a shark. As a 
shark, he devoured many islanders. Finally, he was caught and his body- 
in the form of a great shark— was taken to a hill in Kain-alu. 

"And even today," the old storytellers say, "the hill they took Nanaue 
to is called Puumano, the Shark Hill . . . The people took bamboos 
from the sacred grove of Kain-alu and made sharp knives from the bam- 
boo splits, and thev cut pieces from the body of the shark-man. But the 
gods were angry, and they took the sharpness from the bamboos in the 
sacred grove, and to this day the bamboos of Kain-alu are not strong and 
they cannot cut." 

When the Navy made a major sea base at Pearl Harbor, the dredging 
operations destroyed the remnants of an ancient shark pen. There, un- 
known ages before, Hawaiian kings had hurled living men to the royal 
sharks, and gladiatorial contests had been staged between starved sharks 
and native gladiators. 

In his invaluable study of South Sea islanders, missionary William 
Ellis told of shark worship he had witnessed in the Society Islands in the 
early nineteenth century. He said that the natives deified the Great Blue 
shark (Prionace glaiica), though they killed and ate other species. "Rather 
than destroy the Great Blue sharks," the missionary said, "they would 
endeavor to propitiate their favor by prayers and ofi'erings. Temples 
were erected in which priests officiated, and ofi^erings were presented 

140 Man a?id Shark 

to the deified sharks, while fishermen and others, who were much at sea, 
sought their favor." 

Just as half a world away, in other times, Roman gladiators entered 
an arena to battle to the death with lions for imperial entertainment, so 
did Hawaiian warriors enter the shark pen in duels with sharks. The war- 
rior's only weapon was a shark-tooth dagger, a short length of wood 
shaped like a stout broomstick, gripped in his hand. Protruding from 
the stick was a shark's tooth, which stuck out between two fingers of the 
man's fist. Unlike the matador who can make a misstep and live to face 
a charging bull again, the shark-warrior had but a single life-or-death 
chance. He had to let the onrushing shark charge him. Then, at the last 
instant, the warrior dived beneath the shark and tried to rip the shark's 
belly with his crude weapon. It is said in Hawaiian legends that the 
warriors sometimes killed the shark. If they did, they must have used 
much akua, or magic. Perhaps it was stipulated by royal edict that if a 
warrior drew blood he was allowed to leave the pen, providing that he 
was able to escape the shark. But it seems impossible that the duels be- 
tween man and shark ended any other way than in victory for the shark, 
which, after all, had a maw of teeth to use against the one tooth gripped 
in its antagonist's fist. 

The shark pen was a circle of lava stones, enclosing about a 4-acre 
area at the edge of a bay in the harbor. The circle of rocks had an opening 
on its seaward side so that water could flow into it. Fish— and human 
bait— were thrown into the pen to lure sharks through the passage. When 
a contest was to take place, the passage was closed so that neither op- 
ponent could escape. Close to the shark pen, on the bottom of the 
harbor itself, lived the Queen Shark, regally guarded by two stalwart 
sharks from each of the Hawaiian Islands. The Queen condescended to 
allow the shark jousts near her royal lair. But she had to be propitiated 
with offerings which were undoubtedly human, for it was an economic 
fact of life in old Hawaii that people were cheaper than pigs. 

As mentioned previously, some of the stones that formed the shark 
pen were still in place when the dredgers began tearing up the harbor 
bottom in the early 1900's for the construction of Pearl Harbor Naval 
Base. As part of the harbor project, a big dry dock was built at a cost of 
more than $4,000,000. The foundation suddenly collapsed under the pres- 
sure of an underwater eruption, and the drydock was destroyed. Navy 
inspectors and construction men scurried around trying to find the cause, 
but the natives knew what had happened. "Queen Shark is huhii— angry 
—and humps her back," they said. 

Belief in shark myths has persisted for years, even in modern Hawaii. 
Less than a century ago, many Hawaiian women wore tattoos on their 
ankles in remembrance of an ancient chieftainess who had been bitten on 

Shark Devils— and Gods 141 

the ankle by a shark but had escaped. Apparently, the tattoos were con- 
sidered good luck against shark bites. 

In 1956, the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, repository of a matchless 
collection of Hawaiian artifacts, acquired an ancient relic known as 
Kapaaheo, the "Shark Stone." It took a bit of shark akiia to get it, though. 
The sorcerer was Heloke Mookini, a 71-year-old kamaaina (an old-time 
islander is called a ka7}7aa'ma; a newcomer is a malihini). 

Long ago, according to Heloke, maidens of the Big Island— the Island 
of Hawaii— would go swimming in a cove that sheltered them from the 
sea. Many times, however, a swimmer would disappear and never be seen 
again. Coincidentally, a mysterious stranger was always in the vicinity 
when a disappearance occurred. Fishermen near the cove were suspicious 
of the stranger, but they could not prove that he had anything to do with 
the girls' disappearance. 

One day, armed with their spears, they went swimming with the girls. 
A shark attacked the group, but the fishermen stabbed it several times 
with their spears, and the shark fled. A short while later, the mysterious 
stranger was found on the shore, dying of spear wounds. And when he 
died, his body turned into Kapaaheo, a large stone shaped like a shark. 

When the Bishop Museum decided to ship Kapaaheo from Hawaii 
Island to Honolulu, Heloke Mookini had a dream in which his mother 
visited him and told him of Kapaaheo, and asked him to help with its re- 
moval to Honolulu. 

"So I went to the stone," Heloke recounted, "and saw three bull- 
dozers that were damaged from trying to lift the stone on a sled. I hit 
the Shark Stone with a rock, and the sound was like a dull thud. I knew 
the stone was unhappy. So I told it that to go to the Bishop Museum 
and be with all its old friends of Hawaii would be the best thing." 

Heloke said he tapped the stone again, and "the sound was now like 
a clear, ringing sound which meant that the stone was happy." 

Kapaaheo was no longer stubborn, for, according to the Honolulu 
Star-Bullethi, "The next day a single bulldozer pushed the stone onto a 
sled without any difficulty." 

Mythological sharks were not always malevolent. They often guided 
lost fishermen to land, and even saved swimmers from other ill-mannered 
sharks. Nei de Tuahine, 2l goddess in the form of a sting ray, was a one- 
woman Coast Guard in Tahiti, according to the old tales. Her specialty 
was saving people lost at sea. She'd load them on her broad back and 
go skimming off to land with them. 

In the Cook Islands, the tale is told of Hina, a nasty young lady M^ho 
wanted to journey to the sacred island of A4otu-tapu. Hina did not have a 
canoe, but that didn't stop her. She rode a relay of fishes, leaving each 
one permanently scarred by her rough-riding habits. She lashed one fish 

142 Man and Shark 

so hard that welts covered its body, and so it became a striped fish. An- 
other she beat, producing black-and-blue spots, and that is the way its 
coloration remained. A third she battered so thoroughly it wound up 
forever blackened. She stepped on the obliging sole so hard that it has 
been flat ever since. 

By the time she boarded a shark, she was hungry. She cracked a coco- 
nut on the shark's head, raising a bump which has been on sharks' fore- 
heads ever since and is known as "the bump of Hina." Incidentally, the 
shark proved itself far less docile than the other poor fish Hina abused. 
When she cracked that coconut, the shark dived, leaving Hina in the 
middle of the ocean, and it is a matter of some doubt whether she ever 
did make it to Motu-tapu. 

Rays were similarly looked upon as benevolent among the Norse 
men. An ancient account of the ray's kindness— and the Dogfish's malevo- 
lence—written by Olaus Magnus says: "There is a fish of the kind of 
Sea-Dogfish . . . that will set upon a man swimming in the Salt- Waters, 
so greedily, in Troops, unawares, that he will sink a man to the bottome, 
not only by his biting, but also by his weight; and he will eat his more 
tender parts, as his nostrils, fingers . . ." 

When this happens, however, the account goes on, the ray rushes 
to the rescue, and, "with some violence drives away these fish that set 
upon the drown'd man, and doth what he can to urge him to swim out." 

Out of the mists of legends in the Torres Strait, between the northern- 
most tip of Australia and the coast of Papua, comes the tale of the won- 
drous deliverance of Mutuk, a man who was swallowed by a shark. The 
details of Mutuk 's sojourn in a shark's belly are not as well known as 
Jonah's stay in what is generally thought to be a whale. But the two 
stories are basically similar. 

Countless religious paintings to the contrary, there is support for 
the claim that Jonah was swallowed by a shark, not a whale. The Bible 
says that Jonah was swallowed up by "a great fish," and, though the 
biological distinction probably was not known to Biblical scribes, the 
whale is a mammal, not a fish. Bishop Erik Pontoppidan of Norway, a 
prolific writer on denizens of the sea, in 1765 wrote a long and learned 
paper which proved, to his satisfaction at least, that Jonah had been 
gulped down by a Basking shark. Anatomically, this would be difficult 
for a Basking shark, whose diet is restricted to plankton and whose gullet 
would have trouble passing a prophet. For this reason, supporters of the 
Jonah-was-swallowed-by-a-shark theory favor the Great White shark 
(Carcharodon carcharias), which certainly is a man-eater. The regurgita- 
tion of a man— alive— would be far more miraculous on the part of a 
Great White than a whale. The notion that Jonah was swallowed by a 
whale may have been inspired by the fact that Joppa, whence Jonah was 

Shark Devils— and Gods 143 

going when the sailors tossed him overboard, was an ancient whaling 

The western Pacific is not the only ocean whose sharks have been 
worshiped or made the heroes and villains of mythology. A4any American 
Indian tribes were awed by sharks. Laurence M. Klauber, an outstanding 
herpetologist and an authority on the rattlesnake, was surprised to dis- 
cover that some tribes of Indians, though not very familiar with the sea, 
called rattlesnakes "the little sharks of the woods." The Tlingit Indians of 
southern Alaska divided their tribes into Ws, or "shark," lodges. The 
chief of one of the tribes was called Ha yeak, an Indian term for the hol- 
low left in shallow water by a swiftly swimming shark. To the Tlingit 
Indians, the skate was known as "the canoe of the land otter." Shark 
crests marked the carved emblems of tribal clans, and the sticks the Indi- 
ans used in playing a gambling game, vaguely similar to dice, were named 
after several animals, including the tits. 

In South and Central America, images of sharks appear on ancient 
Indian pottery, and figurines depicting swimmers being devoured by 
sharks have been unearthed. Archaeologists have found sting ray barbs 
that were probably used as sacrificial knives on Indian altars where human 
victims were ofTered to the gods. Along the Honduran coast, even today 
Indian children play an old, old game in which the child who is "it" 
dives into the water and tags other children by pinching or biting them. 
The game is called "playing at shark." 

The Kojiki, the oldest Japanese history book, has a tale of shark to 
tell. Once, long ago, the story goes, a white hare on the Island of Oki 
called to a shark near shore. "Isn't it interesting to compare the number 
of your fellow creatures and that of mine?" the hare asked. "If you would 
let your fellow creatures lie in a row from this island to the Cape of 
Keta, I should step over them, counting their number." The shark agreed, 
and the hare began hopping, shark by shark, toward what is now the 
main island of Japan. Just as the hare reached the cape, it taunted the 
sharks by shouting: "You foolish sharks, you have been deceived. I only 
wished to come to the mainland." The shark which lay nearest the hare 
caught it and angrily skinned it alive. 

The naked hare was lying on the cape, weeping with pain, when 
the god Yasokami came along. Yasokami told the hare to bathe in the 
sea and lie down on the hill in the wind. The hare took the god's advice, 
but the salt and the wind only intensified the pain. As it lay there, weep- 
ing even more, another god, Okuninushi, passed by. Okuninushi, Yaso- 
kami's brother, was carrying Yasokami's baggage. The brothers were on 
their way to visit tiie goddess Yakami in Inaba; they were both in love 
with her. Okuninushi kindly told the hare to bathe in river water and 
lie down on a bed of cattails. The hare recovered, and, in gratitude. 


Man a?7d Shark 

The "Festival of the Shark" used to be held annually in some parts of the New 
Hebrides. The ceremony lasted for a week. The body of a shark was placed in a sort 
of native altar and was buried. A native artist, with white pigment, painted the figure 
of a shark upon the grave, which for a time was constantly guarded. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940. From Pacific Island Monthly 

prophesied that Okuninushi, not his brother, would win the hand of the 
goddess. And, as the hare had foretold, the goddess Yakami did marry 

One of Japan's mythological deities is a god of storm, known as the 
Shark Man. In fact, the shark is so terrifying in Japanese legends that 
when the Chinese sought a talisman to be painted on war planes raiding 
the Japanese, they chose the evilly leering face of the Tiger shark. The 
American pilots who flew these shark-invoking planes were known 
throughout the world as the "Flying Tigers," but actually they should 
have been called the "Flying Sharks." 

Wars are not new to shark-gods. On some Pacific islands, such as 
the Marshalls, tribes fought religious wars over sharks centuries ago. 
These battles were caused by members of one tribe defying the shark or 
sting ray taboos of another. What usually happened was that a member of 
a tribe which did not worship a certain kind of shark or sting ray would 
catch one of the sacred creatures. When word of the sacrilege reached 
the tribe that did worship that specific shark or sting ray, a delegation 
would be sent to the tribe whose member had committed the sacrilege. 
If that tribe refused to heed the worshipers' pleas to desist from the 
desecration, a holy war would begin. 

The coming of Christianity lessened shark worship among the Pacific 
islanders, but the white man's religion did not completely stamp out de- 
votion to the shark. On Samoa, for instance, the Great White shark was 

Shark Devils— and Gods 145 

looked upon as an emissary of Moso, the god of the land. To protect his 
coconut or breadfruit trees, a Samoan would fashion from coconut 
fiber an image of the shark, and suspend the idol in the tree. Similar 
images were placed in gardens to protect them. If a thief stole from a 
shark-guarded tree or garden, he risked being devoured by a Great 
White the next time he went fishing. The story is told on Samoa about a 
native, newly converted to Christianity, who showed his contempt of this 
superstition by mockingly thrusting an arm into the mouth of one of 
the shark idols. Shortly thereafter, so the story goes on, the native went 
on a fishing trip and was seized by a shark which bit off both of his arms. 

India has its snake charmers, and the Pacific has its shark charmers. 
According to newspaper reports, a Catholic priest, the Reverend A. J. 
Laplante, witnessed shark charming in the Fiji Islands during the decade 
he spent as a missionary there between 1928 and 1938. Father Laplante 
said the islanders subdued sharks by kissing them. 

"It's some occult power they have which I can't define," the priest 
reported after returning from the islands in 1938. "But once the native 
kisses it, that shark never moves again." 

Twice a year, when the natives made a drive for food for tribal feasts, 
or when they wanted to make their swimming areas safe from sharks, 
shark-kissing ceremonies would be held. Father Laplante said. 

The night before the drive, the man who wants the shark fishing done goes 
to the house of the chief, who is also the sorcerer or medicine man. There they 
enact a ceremony which survives from their oldest superstitions and beliefs. 

This ceremony always includes the presentation of kava—2. mildly narcotic 
beverage made from juice extracted from finely ground root— and the sacrifice 
of an animal. The kava is drunk and some of it is sprinkled on the important 
main post of the house, where the spirit lives, and the animal is strangled, 
cooked and eaten. 

The next day, the natives drive the sharks into a large net, the shark-kissers 
wade out, seize the man-eaters, kiss them on their up-turned bellies and fling 
them on the bank. I don't know how they do it, but, among the natives, it is 
taken for granted that once a shark is kissed— upside down— that is the end of it. 

Shark-kissing suddenly cropped up as an occult collegiate ritual in 
1960 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when cavorting college boys on Easter 
vacation there procured a 4-foot shark named Freddy and forced coeds 
to kiss it. Fort Lauderdale police, long inured to college pranks, arrested 
one of the shark's owners, but Freddy, apparently dead, was thrown into 
the sea and was never seen again. 

Pearl divers off the coast of Ceylon in the Indian Ocean have long 
relied upon shark charmers to protect them from sharks. Sir J. Emerson 
Tennent, who studied the customs of Ceylon pearl divers, reported in 
1861 that the "mystic ceremony of the shark charmer" was "an indis- 
pensable preliminary" to every pearl hunt. Sir Tennent noted, 

146 Man and Shark 

His power is believed to be hereditary; nor is it supposed that the value of 
his incantations is at all dependent upon the religious faith professed by the 
operator, for the present head of the family happens to be a Roman Catholic. 
At the time of our visit, this mysterious functionary was ill and unable to attend. 
But he sent an accredited substitute, who assured me that, although he himself 
was ignorant of the grand and mystic secret, the mere fact of his presence, as 
a representative of the higher authority, would be recognized and respected by 
the sharks. 

Shark superstitions and shark tales followed in the wake of the sailing 
ships that touched the exotic isles and strange lands where the shark was 
a god or an instrument of the gods. And civilized men themselves often 
used this deity for their own ends. When the British maintained prison 
colonies on Tasmania, in the early nineteenth century, fierce dogs and 
armed guards patrolled the prison encampments. But hardy prisoners 
were managing to escape from one of the settlements, located at the 
end of a narrow peninsula. The captives slipped into the sea, swam past 
the patrolled area, then waded ashore and crept through the under- 
growth to eventual freedom. The governor of the colony ordered that 
garbage be dumped every day in the waters along the peninsula. Lured 
by the daily promise of free meals, sharks began congregating in the 
waters of the escape route. After a few screams in the night, and after 
the prisoners learned about their hungry new watchers, the escape at- 
tempts stopped. Sharks were a similar menace to prisoners attempting to 
escape on frail floats from Devil's Island in the tropical Atlantic off 
French Guiana. 

Even today, on lie Royale, a prison island next to Devil's Island, 
one can see the moldering cofHn in which the bodies of prisoners con- 
demned for killing fellow convicts or guards were placed after they were 
guillotined. Only one coffin was needed, for the executed men were not 
buried in the earth. The coffin was loaded aboard a boat which guards 
rowed a short way off land. The body was there consigned, not to the 
sea, but to the sharks that swarmed in the blood-stained waters. 

How many dead or dying slaves were thrown to the sharks will 
never be known. Whispered tales of these evil deeds inspired this anony- 
mous poem in The Book of Fishes, published in London in 1835: 

. . . here dwells the direful Shark, lured by the scent 
Of reeking crowds, of rank disease and death. 
Behold! he rushing cuts the briny flood, 
Swift as the gale can bear the ship along; 
And from the partners of that cruel trade 
Which spoils unhappy Guinea of her sons, 
Demands his share of prey . . . 

Shark Devils— and Gods 147 

"A master of a Guinea ship informed me," the British naturalist 
Thomas Pennant wrote in 1776, "that a rage of suicide prevailed among 
his new bought slaves, from a notion the unhappy creatures had, that 
after death they should be restored again to their families, friends, and 
country. To convince them at least that they should not reanimate their 
bodies he ordered one of the corpses to be tied by the heels to a rope, and 
lowered into the sea, and, though it was drawn up again as fast as the 
united force of the crew could be exerted, yet in that short space the 
sharks had devoured every part but the feet, which were secured at the 
end of the cord." 

In Sharks Are Caught at Night,^ Francois Poli recounts a story still 
told around the shores of Lake Nicaragua about the greedy Dutchman 
who fished for the sharks which consumed the bodies of Indians hurled 
into the lake. After elaborate funeral ceremonies, the corpses, bedecked 
in jewels and gold ornaments, were consigned to the sharks, apparently 
to appease them, for their man-eating habits were— and are— notorious. 
The Dutchman, the natives told Poli, fished for the sharks, ripped them 
open, and stole the sacred sacrificial jewelry and gold. He had harvested 
a fortune, so the story goes, by the time the Indians discovered his 
desecrations and killed him. His body was not thrown to the sharks, of 
course; he wasn't good enough for that. "So then," Poli quotes his tale- 
teller as saying, "they set fire to the house. And cut the Dutchman's 

In the days of sail, many ports of call were reputed to be the homes 
of sinister sharks whose evil deeds were luridly recounted to wide-eyed 
apprentices by old salts, who familiarly referred to the sharks by name. 
Two of the most infamous were Port Royal Jack, who guarded the en- 
trance to the harbor of Kingston, Jamaica, and Shanghai Bill, who 
prowled the waters of Bridgetown Harbor, Barbados, West Indies. Shang- 
hai Bill gobbled down many a sailor in his time, but it was a shaggy 
dog that did him in. Bill, it seems, seized in his great jaws one day a big 
brown sheep dog that had fallen into Bridgetown Harbor. The dog's 
hair got caught in Bill's teeth, and he finally choked to death. This may 
be the world's first shaggy dog story. 

Then there were the two sharks that became an island. What their 
names were isn't known, but they were certainly the laziest sharks that 
ever inhabited the sea, or a seafarer's tale, the seafarer being Captain B. J. 
Whip, once an officer on a cable ship in the Red Sea. According to his tale, 
the two sharks, then only a few feet long, discovered a fine dining area 
in the middle of the Red Sea. The fish were so easy to get that all they 
had to do was stay there, motionless, and let the fish swim into their 

1 Francois Poli, Sharks Are Caught at Night (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1959). 

148 Man and Shark 

mouths. Gradually, they became anchored by the seaweed that attached 
itself to them and, like two great hulks, they remained moored at their 
eatery, ever growing and ever becoming encrusted with barnacles. When 
last reported on by the captain, which was back in 1916 during the shark 
scare, when he told his whopper to the Ne^w York Times, they were each 
about 50 feet long, and hardly looked Hke sharks at all, so barnacle- 
covered were they. Some day, perhaps, they will have grown so large 
that they'll become a menace to navigation and will have to be sunk. 
Or maybe some enterprising fishermen will colonize them and make a 
fortune fishing those very fishy waters. 

Many sharks that followed sailing ships were neither jokes nor tall 
tales. A steady diet of galley garbage flowed in the ships' wakes, and 
any shark that picked up the scent of such an easy meal would follow 
a ship for weeks. Sharks even bit off the brass rotators of the "patent 
logs" ships trailed behind them to register their speed. 

One of the earliest English-language references to shark attacks 
occurs in a 1580 Fiigger News-Letter, which gives this eye-witness ac- 
count of how a seaman virtually fell into the jaws of a shark, somewhere 
between Portugal and India: 

When a man fell from our ship into the sea during a strong wind, so that we 
could not wait for him or come to his rescue in any other fashion, we threw 
out to him on a rope a wooden block, especially prepared for that purpose, and 
this he finally managed to grasp and thought he could save himself thereby. But 
when our crew drew this block with the man toward the ship and had him 
within half the carrying distance of a musket shot, there appeared from below 
the surface of the sea a large monster called Tiburon; it rushed on the man and 
tore him to pieces before our very eyes. That surely was a grievous death. 

Ships' logs recount many similar tragedies, but there were some close 
races which the mariners won. The captain of the Ayrshire fell overboard 
during a cruise in 1850. His vaUant Newfoundland dog leaped into the sea 
to save him. A shark headed for them, but, according to the log, both 
the captain and the dog were saved. The captain was unscathed. The 
dog's tail was bitten off. 

Many a sailor who died aboard ship and whose body was buried at 
sea found his tomb in the belly of a shark. The superstition grew that 
sharks somehow knew when a man was about to die, and the appearance 
of sharks in the wake of a ship came to be considered an omen of death. 
When an epidemic of yellow fever or cholera broke out aboard a ship, 
the superstitious believed that sharks would stay with the accursed ship 
until the epidemic had claimed its last victim. One skipper who sailed 
out of San Francisco many years ago added to the legend. He often 
carried an unusual cargo— the bodies of Chinese who died in the United 
States, and, accordinor to ancient custom, had to be buried in China. 

Shark Devils— and Gods 


A painting which one critic says "stands alone in its age," Brook Watson and the Shark 
by John Singleton Copley, was painted in 1778. Watson, who later became Lord 
Mayor of London, lost a leg in the attack, which occurred in Havana Harbor. It is 
said that when, as Lord Mayor, he was asked about his leg, he delighted in mystifying 
his friends by simply saying, "It was bit off!" Copley's painting was commissioned by 
Watson himself. He also commemorated the accident in his family crest, which shows 
a shark being repelled as it seizes its prey. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts. Boston 

The skipper swore that on voyages when he carried corpses his ship 
was followed by a pack of sharks, which were able to detect the corpses 
even though they lay in lead-lined cofHns deep in the hold. The shark 
pack, he insisted, never appeared when he carried a less funereal cargo. 

The seaman's dread of sharks, oddly enough, has not spawned a 
superstition against naming ships Shark. Six United States Navy ships, 
in fact, have been called Shark. The first, a 198-ton schooner of 12 guns, 
was launched in 1821 and had for her first commanding officer a young 
lieutenant named Matthew Calbraith Perry. Three decades later, as 
Commodore Perry, he would lead the first American mission to Japan. 
During his rather undistinguished career aboard the Shark, Perry took 
formal possession for the United States of what was to become one of 
the country's best-known shark-fishing spots: Key West, Forida. 

The other five vessels named Shark by the Navy were all submarines. 

150 Man and Shark 

The first two, pioneer underwater craft, were retired without having 
achieved much of a record. The next two Sharks vanished on patrol dur- 
ing World War II. The sixth Shark, an atomic-powered submarine, was 
launched in 1960. 

Sharks appear in several British coats-of-arms." 

Sir Brook Watson, Alderman of London, lost a leg from the bite of a 
shark in the harbor of Havana. The incident was magnificently portrayed 
by the painter John Singleton Copley in his famed "Watson and the 
Shark." But that wasn't enough for Watson. Created baronet in 1803, he 
assumed for a crest a demi-triton, grasping a trident and repelling a 
shark in the act of seizing its prey. The crest of the family of Aiolton 
has a shark's head regardant, swallowing a Negro. A similar crest was 
granted to the Garmston family. A shark issuant regardant, swallowing 
a man, is the crest of the family of Yeates of Ireland. Argent, three dog- 
fish in pale sable, are the arms of the family of Gesse. Dogfish also appear 
in the arms of the family of Malvish. A demi- (or half) dogfish sable 
is the crest of the family of Meer of Dorsetshire. 

A shark posing as a mermaid guards the little town of Bregenz, Aus- 
tria, on the shore of Lake Constance. How it got there, no one knows. 
The mermaid hangs in an archway. Legend says she has been hanging 
there since the thirteenth century when Bregenz was suff^ering from al- 
most constant sieges by German armies and an almost continual series of 

One day a fisherman drew in his net at Lake Constance and found a 
mermaid. He was going to throw her back when a voice from the lake 
cried out: "Take my daughter and hang her in the Arch of Martinster. 
She is begat of a land woman and is of no use here." 

Fearing to disobey the Spirit of the Lake, the fisherman followed the 
eerie command. The next morning, the mermaid was found dead. In 
her struggles, she had twisted into a grotesque shape. Her death, ac- 
cording to the legend, resulted in a century of peace and prosperity for 

The mermaid, still frozen in her death throes, hangs in the archway 
Ooday. She is a shark. Dr. Denys W. Tucker, formerly of the British 
Museum (Natural History), in correspondence with one of the authors, 
tentatively identified the mermaid, from a photograph, as a mummified 
Porbeagle shark. Did it come from Lake Constance? That possibility 
is as unlikely as the mermaid legend. But to this day no one knows how a 
shark, and a mummified one at that, came to be hung from an arch in an 
Austrian town so far from the sea. 

2 Sharks and rays also are found on postage stamps of French Somaliland, Ifni, 
Eritrea, Tristan da Cunha, Gibraltar, Spanish Guinea, and Kenya. 

Shark Devils— and Gods 


Hanging in an archway in the Austrian town of Bregenz is this "Mermaid of Bregenz," 
whose appearance after being hauled from nearby Lake Constance saved Bregenz from 
a plethora of perils, according to a thirteenth-century legend. The "mermaid" is 
actually a shark, but how it turned up in a lakeside town is a 700-year-old mystery. 
The original mummified shark has been replaced by a stone replica, so that the town's 
guardian will remain in perpetuity. Courte.=!y, R. B. C. Twidale 

Apparently there is nowhere that a shark— or a tale of a shark— can- 
not find its wav. 

For centuries, sailors' imaginations, fired bv superstition, terror, and 
a yen for a good varn, have spun tale after tale about sharks. Some of 
these tales die hard, so it should be made a matter of record that sharks 
do not nurse their voung, produce ambergris, or beat whales to death 
with their tails. Nor, sad to relate, is there anv basis for Mark Twain's 
great story^ that, by catching in Australia a shark that had swallowed a 
newspaper in London 10 days before. Cecil Rhodes fortuitously obtained 
advance information about the wool market and thus began to amass his 
vast fortune. 

152 Man and Shark 

But stranger than all the tall tales inspired by sharks, more incredible 
than any sharky yarn told by a fibber of the foc'sle, are the true stories 
that have starred sharks. Crimes have been revealed and mysteries raised 
from the deep by the shark's habit of gulping down whatever passes 
before its mouth. 

Shark-delivered mail of a grim sort was reported by Italian fishermen 
in 1952. They said they had found a bottle in a shark they had caught, 
and in the bottle was a letter a French fisherman, dying alone on a life- 
raft, had written as a farewell to his wife and children. 

Sharks have three times ferreted out crimes which undoubtedly would 
never have been detected without their aid. Each of these true stories is 
well documented, and each is based, not on rumor or legend, but on 
the chronicles of courts and the footnotes of history. 

Truth from the Jaws of a Shark: On July 3, 1799, the Nancy, a brig 
of 125 tons, slipped out of Baltimore and into the Chesapeake, bound 
south for forbidden waters. The Nancy, an American ship, was barred 
from where she was going, the British West Indies. But her owners had 
hit upon a scheme to disguise her true identity. 

She sailed first to Curagao, a Dutch colony in the West Indies, where 
she obtained fraudulent ownership papers indicating that she was owned 
by a Dutchman. With these papers, she sailed on. But, on August 28th, 
she was overtaken by a British cutter, H.M.S. Sparrow. The cutter's cap- 
tain. Lieutenant Hugh Wylie, was unimpressed by the Dutch papers. He 
put a prize crew aboard the Nancy and ordered it taken to Port Royal, 
Jamaica, where the case could be settled in the Court of Vice-Ad- 

Meanwhile, the crew of another British vessel, the Ferret, caught a 
shark, in whose jaws were found the papers of an American ship— the 
Nancy. By chance, the captain of the Ferret invited Lieutenant Wylie 
aboard for breakfast around the time the shark was captured. Wylie 
examined the shark-produced papers and immediately perceived the 
fraudulence of the Dutch "ownership" papers he had sealed with his 
own hand when he sent the Nancy to Port Royal. 

The "Shark Papers," as they came to be called, were introduced into 
court in time to prove the true ownership of the Nancy, and, on Novem- 
ber 25th, 1799, she and her cargo were condemned as a prize. 

When the case ended, the shark's jaws, which measured 22 inches 
at their widest point, were set up on shore in Kingston as a warning to 
perjurers that the truth can be found, even if it is sunk in the sea. And 
with the jaws was a sign that said: "Lieutenant Fitton recommends these 
jaws for a collar for neutrals to swear through." The "Shark Papers" are 
still on exhibit in the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston. 

Shark Devils— mid Gods 153 

The Witness Was a Shark: In November, 1915, the U.S. Government 
brouoht to trial, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of 
New York, four executives of the Hamburg-American Steamship Com- 
pany. They were charged with violation of U.S. customs laws. But, in 
effect, they were being tried to put on record Germany's use of neutral 
American ports by falsely registered freighters that were used to carry 
supplies to German U-boats and raiders. 

In his openino statement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert B. Wood 
told how a Norwegian ship, the Gladstone, had been given a provisional 
registry as the Costa Rican ship Marina Quesada and, on December 16, 
1914, had sailed from Newport News, Virginia. Ostensibly, she was 
headed for Valparaiso, Chile. Actually her mission was to rendezvous with 
German raiders. 

Early in January, 1915, Wood said, the ship's Costa Rican flag was 
hauled down and a Norwegian flag was run up. The name Marina Quesada 
\\as painted out, and Gladsto?ie was once more painted on her bows and 
counter. And, as the Gladstone, after some minor adventures and misad- 
ventures, she anchored in the harbor of Pernambuco (now Recife), Brazil. 

"And there," Wood recounted, "the customs authorities demanded 
the ship's papers, and the Captain, after giving several excuses, put the 
papers in a leather pouch and got in a small boat and dropped the papers 

"Now, gentlemen, I do not vouch for this story, but one of the wit- 
nesses says that the crew of a Brazilian warship lying alongside the Marina 
Quesada killed a shark, and in the belly of the shark they found the 
ship's papers. At all events, we have not been able to get hold of the 

The witness was John Olson, chief engineer of the ship. He told, on 
the stand, the story of the ship's masquerade and its arrival in Brazil. He 
said that the captain of the ship had dropped the papers as he entered 
a small boat that was to carry him to shore. Later, Olson testified, the 
captain told the first mate about the incident and said: "Did you see 
the trick I done?" 

"Did you see any of the ship's papers again? Olson was asked on the 

A. I seen the handbag; yes, sir. 

Q. Whereabouts? 

A. In a news office in Pernambuco. 

Q. Did you ever see any of the papers? 
A. No, sir. 

Q. Did you leave the ship there? 
A. Yes, sir. 

154 Man and Shark 

At this point in Olson's testimony, according to the New York T'mies 
account of the trial, Olson seemed about to say more. But, "to his evident 
great disappointment," the Times reported, "Olson was not allowed to 
tell of the ship's papers being found on the inside of a shark." 

Thus, the mystery of the shark of Recife was never cleared up, at 
least publicly. There is no record of it, so far as the authors' researches 
could determine, in newspaper files in Recife today. And there is no 
record, other than the scant remarks in Wood's opening statement, in 
the transcript of the trial. But, even with the shark as only a phantom 
witness, the story of the Gladstone-Marina Quesada was put into the 
record, along with many details of the German government's flagrant 
violations of U.S. neutrality— and the four Hamburg-American executives 
were found guilty. 

The Shark Arm. Mystery: A Sydney, Australia, fisherman named Al- 
bert Hobson hauled up his fishing line, and lifted the curtain on the weird- 
est murder drama Australia had even known. Hobson had set his bait 
about a mile ofl^ Coogee— a popular Sydney bathing beach— on April 17th, 
1935. Now it was the following morning and, when he pulled in his line, 
he saw that he had caught not one, but two sharks. 

A small shark apparently had taken the bait during the night. Then, 
not too long before Hobson arrived in his boat, a 14-foot Tiger shark 
had nearly devoured the smaller one, whose remains were still on the 
hook. The Tiger, still dangerously alive, had entangled itself in Hob- 
son's line. Hobson and his brother Charles managed to get the big shark 
ashore. With the help of spectators who had watched the capture from 
the beach, the two brothers dragged the shark across a stretch of sand 
to the Coogee Aquarium. By the time it was placed in the aquarium 
pool, the shark looked more dead than alive. For 24 hours it lay in the 
pool, apparently lifeless. Oxygen was pumped into the pool. This seemed 
to help. By April 20th, two days after its capture, it was eating all the 
fish thrown to it. 

Even in Sydney, where sharks have never been uncommon, the Tiger 
in Coogee Aquarium was a mild sensation, and the exhibit was crowded 
every day. Like a terrestrial tiger in a cage, the shark "stalked" from 
one end of the pool to the other in an unceasing search for escape from 
its prison. Then, on April 24th, the shark stopped eating. It began to 
languish; it hardly moved. 

On April 25th, while 14 persons stood at the pool watching the list- 
less shark, it suddenly came to life. It lashed the water with its tail. It 
charged into the side of the pool. It rushed to the shallow end of the pool 
and whirled about in eccentric circles. A brown, foul-smelling scum en- 
veloped it. One of the spectators was standing about 10 feet from the 

Shark Devils— and Gods 155 

shark when this happened. He saw the dark cloud erupt around the 
shark. And he saw, emerging out of the cloud and slowly rising to the 
surface, the remains of a rat , . . the body of a sea bird that eerily 
floated to the surface on dead wings . . . and, disembodied, seemingly 
beckoning to the gasping spectators— a human arm, with a rope tied 
around its wrist. 

The arm was taken to the city morgue, where Dr. Arthur Palmer, 
the government medical officer, examined it. The arm— the left arm of 
a muscular man— was intact and remarkably well preserved. On its fore- 
arm was a tattoo of two boxers confronting each other, one in blue 
trunks, the other in red. A 6-inch rope was tightly knotted about its 
wrist. The knot was a seaman's knot, a clove hitch. 

Dr. Palmer called in Dr. V. M. Coppleson, a Sydney surgeon, for 
consultation. Coppleson, who had been making a detailed study of shark- 
bite wounds, saw immediately that the arm had not been ripped from 
the man's body by a shark. It had been cleanly severed at the shoulder 
by a knife, wielded by a skillful butcher. No surgeon had done it, for 
the usual procedures in surgical amputation had not been followed. 

A medical student could have severed the arm from a cadaver and, 
either the arm had somehow been dropped in the sea, or a prankster 
with a grisly sense of humor had thrown it into the aquarium pool. Both 
possibilities were quickly ruled out. Spectators at the pool recounted 
their story of seeing the shark regurgitate the arm; inquiries at medical 
schools estabhshed that no cadavers or portions of cadavers were miss- 

The shark was killed. A few fish bones and part of a small shark 
were found, but there were no other human remains, not even a shred 
of clothing. So the arm was the only clue to the man's identity. 

A Sydney police fingerprint expert was given the assigment of identi- 
fying the arm. It was a ghoulish task. The shriveled fingertips could 
yield no prints. The skin was peeled off^ the hand, treated chemically to 
remove its wrinkles, and fashioned into a kind of glove, from which 
prints could be made. 

The prints matched those of James Smith, a former amateur boxer 
who ran a billiard parlor in Rozelle, a Sydney suburb. Smith's prints 
were on file in Sydney because he had been arrested three years earlier 
for illegal betting, a not particularly unusual offense in Australia. Smith 
was known to be a friend of several criminals, but he himself was not 
considered to be a criminal by the Sydney police. Smith's brother, Ed- 
ward, identified the arm by the tattoo. 

William Prior, superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Branch of 
the New South Wales police force, knew he was looking for a murderer, 
but he could not even prove that a murder had been committed. A shark 

156 Man and Shark 

had disgorged the arm of a man named Smith. Smith had disappeared. 
The arm, carefully preserved as the Crown's only evidence of a crime, 
was not enough to warrant an inquest. The coroner could not assume 
that Smith was dead until other parts of his body were found. In a quiet 
way (he was called "William the Silent" by reporters). Prior enlisted the 
aid of Gilbert Percy Whitley, shark expert of the Australian Museum in 
Sydney, and probably the first ichthyologist ever called into a murder 
investigation. Whitley was asked to gather all possible scientific data on 
the food and physiology of digestion of sharks, particularly the Tiger. 
Prior knew that, if the case ever came to court, the Crown prosecutor 
would have to tell an incredible tale. Only the scientific evidence Whitley 
was gathering could make the tale credible to a jury. 

While the ichthyological phase of the murder investigation was 
pressed by Whitley, detectives went about the more familiar job of look- 
ing for a killer. The detectives soon unearthed a series of interesting facts: 
(1) Smith, a pool-hall operator, had been involved in some seemingly 
shady business deals with one Reginald William Holmes— a wealthy 
Sydney boat-builder. When questioned by the police, Holmes admitted 
knowing Smith and giving him money for business purposes. That was 
all. (2) Smith had last been seen in the company of Patrick Brady. The 
two men had stayed in a cottage in the fishing town of Cronulla. The 
landlord reported that after they left the cottage, a trunk, a mattress, 
some rope and sash cords were missing. (These articles were never seen 
again.) He also stated that he had found a can of evil-smelling liquid in 
the cottage, which he thought was blood. 

An alarm went out for Patrick Brady. After questioning him, the 
police charged him with the murder of James Smith. Four days later the 
police received a startling phone call: Reginald Holmes was racing his 
boat around Sydney Harbor with a bullet in his head. When they caught 
up with Holmes he was babbling incoherently— "Jimmy Smith is dead. 
I'm nearly dead, and there is only one other left." But Holmes did not 
die— then. An x-ray picture showed that a .32-caliber bullet had flattened 
itself against the unusually thick frontal bone of his skull. He was re- 
leased from the hospital several days later. That same night he was found 
murdered in his car. 

Now the police had tu^o murders to deal with. The Crown's case 
was shaky in each instance. It was almost impossible to make the charge 
against Brady stick: there was no body; there was no known date of 
death; there were no clues as to how Smith was murdered. Fingerprints 
found in Holmes's car belonged to a business associate who admitted 
using the car many times. Each man was tried and acquitted. 

To get a clearer idea of what happened to Smith and Holmes we 
must return to the "avenging arm" disgorged bv the shark. What the 
arm told was interpreted in this way: 

Shark Devils— and Gods 157 

Smith had been killed. His body had been disposed of, somehow 
... all but the arm. Either it had eluded the oblivion to which the rest 
of Smith's body had been consigned (his body was never found), or 
it had been used as gruesome proof of the deed to the man who had 
wanted Smith killed. Then, a rope knotted about its wrist and a weight 
tied to the other end of the rope, it had been hurled, probably from a 
boat, into the sea. 

The arm floated near the sea bottom at the end of its tether, gro- 
tesquely beckoning a relatively small shark which smelled the fresh 
blood. The shark circled warily, then seized the arm as it would have 
seized a fish— with one, swift lunge. If the arm had been floating on 
the surface, the shark would probably have snapped at it, tearing it and 
obliterating the fingerprints and the tell-tale tattoo which disclosed the 
arm's identity. But, tethered as it was, the arm was scooped intact into 
the shark, whose jaws clamped down on and parted the rope that held 
the arm. 

Soon after finding the arm, the shark discovered Albert Hobson's 
bait, lunged for it, and was hooked. The shark's struggles were detected 
by a 14-foot Tiger shark, which immediately sensed easy prey. Again, 
the wary approach; again, the swift thrust; again, huge jaws scooped 
instead of seizing. This time, however, the shark meets resistance as it 
attempts to bolt down its meal intact. The Tiger's prey is held by the 
big hook. The Tiger's jaws rip and tear near the hook. (Perhaps the 
Tiger itself is temporarily snared by the same hook— as often happens.) 
It begins thrashing, entangling itself in the slackened line. And it is 
held fast. Fortunately, before the Tiger's own struggles draw other 
sharks to the scene, Hobson arrives, captures it, and brings it ashore. 

Why didn't the first shark's potent digestive secretions disintegrate 
the arm? Why was the arm so remarkably well preserved? The theories 
are many. Perhaps the sudden death of the first small shark suspended its 
digestive process and, when it in turn was devoured, its own body may 
have acted as a protective casing, shielding the arm from effacement by 
the Tiger shark's digestive system. Smith was murdered, apparently, 
some time around the middle of April. (He arrived in Cronulla on April 
7th and was last seen by the landlord "a few days" later.) The shark was 
caught on April 18th. The arm was disgorged on April 25th. 

Australian physicians and police have authenticated several cases of 
preservation of human remains in sharks for even longer periods than 

Thus did investigators recount the bizarre odyssey of Smith's aveng- 
ing arm. But the arm that had revealed a murder was never to lead 
justice to the murderer. Instead, the arm led justice down a laby- 
rinth. . . . 

There are some who say that the shark disclosed the murder of 

158 Man and Shark 

James Smith in vain, for no man was ever convicted of the slaying, and 
no court of law ever learned the true story of how and why James Smith 
was killed. 

But those who have studied the incredible case have raised the question 
of whether Reginald Holmes was behind the murder. And, when the arm 
fatefully appeared, mutely demanding justice, was it like a wraith clutching 
at Holmes? He tried to still the torment in his soul by killing himself. But 
it was not to be that easy. Murder had conjured up the arm, and, when 
Holmes left his home on the night of his death, murder— a propitiating 
murder— may have been what he sought. Perhaps he kept a tryst with 

No matter who actually killed the haunted Holmes, the arm from 
the shark brought about his death just as surely as if its accusing hand 
had pulled a trigger. 

chapter 7 

Shark-Eating Men 

Sharks as food? 

Yes! Salted, smoked, kippered, flaked, or 
shredded, the flesh of many species of shark is deUcious. Fresh shark 
meat often has an offensive odor, because of the large quantities of urea 
in it. This can be removed by soaking the meat in brine. Shark has a 
tendency to spoil more quickly than many other fish. With proper prepa- 
ration, however, spoiling can be prevented. 

Skates and rays also yield good food, and are considered a delicacy 
in some countries. The Barndoor skate {Raja laevis) is sold as food along 
the U.S. Atlantic coast. A close European relative, the Common skate 
{Raja batis), is an important European food fish. The CaUfornia skate 
{Raja inornata) is eaten on the Pacific Coast. 

In 1961, an English translation of Laroiisse G astronomique— tht epic 
book of French cuisine— was published in the United States (by Crown 
Publishers, Inc.). This encyclopedic book, which lists 8,500 recipes- 
including some for bear claws and lapwing eggs— all but dismisses shark. 
But it devotes considerable space to such skate dishes as jelHed skate, 
skate liver fritters, and foie de raie. 

Compared to other fishes, shark is not a very popular food in the 
United States. In 1959, for instance, 6,202,000 pounds of shark, worth 
about $162,000, were landed at public fish markets in the United States 
and sold as such. This may sound impressive, until compared with, 
say, cod. In the same year, 59,809,000 pounds of cod worth $3,976,000 
were landed in the United States. And cod accounted for barely 1 per 
cent of the more than 5 billion pounds of fish landed in the United States 
in that year. 

On the other hand, seven sharks, including the dreaded Great White, 
and three rays, including a sting ray {Dasyatis sabijia), are regularly 
caught and eaten in Texas, according to the Texas Fish and Game Com- 

Statistics tell only part of the story. Some of the shark eaten in this 
country does not appear on the dinner plate as shark. When a commercial 
fish marketer is offered, say, some Mackerel shark, he may be seized 
by a temptation to bestow disguised shark upon his customers. He need 
only chop off the shark's head, tail, and fins, then cut it into steaks. These 



Man and Shark 

A skate is visible in front of the lobster in this eighteenth-century painting, The Fish 
Merchant, sometimes ascribed to Hogarth, but probably painted by Joseph van Aken. 

Courtesy, The Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, London 

Steaks can be sold as swordfish steaks, and few people will know the 

Similarly, some fish marketers wield a device like a cookie-cutter 
on the pliable, fleshy wings of skates. The disk that is punched out 
looks, to an untrained eye, very much like a scallop. A true aficionado 
of scallops would detect the counterfeit, although it tastes good. (It 
must be labeled "Deep Sea Scallop," or by some other name, to be of- 
fered legally.) 

In some U.S. fish markets, dogfish are sold as "grayfish" and skates 
are sold as "rajafish." Mako sharks and possibly other species may be 
legally marketed as "swordfish" in some areas, but the extent of these 
laws is not clear. 

One day in the summer of 1944, a patron in a Long Beach, California, 
restaurant, looked coldly at some fish being sold as white sea bass, Cali- 
fornia halibut, barracuda, and salmon. The salmon looked particularly 
suspicious, but all of the fish, the patron knew, was actually Soupfin shark 

Shark-Eating Men 161 

(Galeorhinus zyopterus), sliced into fillets. The customer happened to 
be William Ellis Ripley of the California State Bureau of Marine Fisheries. 

"Upon questioning," Ripley later reported, "the owner of the es- 
tablishment admitted that the fillets sold for salmon had been treated 
with food coloring to simulate the color of salmon tissue. Elsewhere 
throughout the state, shark has been misrepresented as various other 
species . . . Even in a fishery port such as Santa Barbara, entrepreneurs 
have been known to pass off Bonito, Thresher and Soupfin shark as 
halibut, rockfish, cod, etc." 

Ripley emphasized in his report on the misnamed sharks that "there 
is no sound nutritional, esthetic, or scientific basis for the reluctance at- 
tached to the consumption of sharks." But he pointed out that connois- 
seurs of other kinds of fishes, while not able to tell that they are eating 
shark, may feel that the halibut, say, is not quite up to par. "A few such 
experiences and the halibut customer is lost to the trade," Ripley said. 
"Therefore, if for no other reason than to maintain their integrity before 
the fish consuming public, the industry should attempt to restrain these 

For many years, Italian and Chinese immigrants and their descendants 
have for all practical purposes been keeping the U.S. shark market alive. 
Of the 70,000 to 80,000 pounds of dogfish (generally Squahis acanthias) 
sold each year in New York City's sprawling Fulton Fish Market— larg- 
est wholesale fish market on the Atlantic Coast— almost all are sold to 
customers of Italian extraction. On both the Atlantic and the Pacific 
coasts, customers of Chinese extraction support a shark market with 
their demands for fins for their cherished sharkfin soup. 

In recent years, according to U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries 
statistics, the annual receipts of dogfish and rajafish have been increasing 
at the Fulton Fish Market, and no one knows why. In 1950, dogfish 
landings totaled 54,800 pounds; in 1960, the dogfish catch amounted 
to 88,600 pounds. During the same period, rajafish receipts rose from 
71,500 to 120,600 pounds, while fish sold as just plain shark ^ dropped 
from 69,800 pounds in 1950 to 23,500 in 1960. 

Why did shark sales drop while dogfish and rajafish sales increased? 
One possible answer is given by T. J. Risoli, supervisory market news 
reporter of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries: "We do not know the 
specific reasons for the sharp drop in shark receipts here, but we believe 
it is probably due to the unfavorable light the shark has been seen in as 
a result of injuries to swimmers." 

That, of course, is the major reason people do not eat shark in the 

' The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries does not include species designation in its 

162 Man and Shark 

United States. Sheep, cows, pigs— and dogfish and skates— do not attack 
living people (though both dogfish and pigs will eat corpses). So no one 
feels queasy about eating them. As a matter of fact, the sharks which can 
and do occasionally attack bathers are not especially good as food. The 
notorious Great White shark, for instance, is rumored to be poisonous; 
and so are others. 

Reports of poisonous sharks are recorded as far back as 1758 in 
France, and to the earliest times in some Pacific islands. But the basis 
for many of these reports is difficult to find. On Saipan, because of a 
taboo on all black fish and most red fish, the Black-Tipped Sand shark 
(Carcharhinus melanopterus) is not eaten; yet, on Guam, where no such 
taboo exists, it is eaten. The Six-Gill shark (Hexanchus griseum) is sold 
as food in California, but is eaten in Germany not so much as food but as 
a strong purgative! Mantas (Mobula) are eaten in tropical American 
ports, but some Pacific islanders believe that he who eats the Manta sups 
with the Devil— and they won't touch it. 

We may look patronizingly upon such quaint superstitions, but the 
fact is that an equally irrational prejudice is keeping shark off American 
tables. Attempts to make Americans shark-eaters have usually gone 
aground on the shoals of such prejudice, or have been scuttled by bad 
timing. The U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, for instance, was readying an 
elaborate sharks-are-good-for-you campaign in 1916. Then came the 
New Jersey shark attacks. After the panic touched off by four killings 
and one non-fatal attack in rapid succession, apparently no one wanted 
to contemplate a shark on his dinner table. 

After America's entry into World War I, another campaign was 
launched. At the request of the War Food Administration and the still 
willing Bureau of Fisheries, the well-known fish cannery, Gorton's of 
Gloucester, was asked to try canning dogfish. According to F. M. Bundy, 
president of the firm, "The product looked good and apparently was 
satisfactory until, a short while after the canning, the fish developed a 
strong ammonia odor when the cans were opened. This resulted in more 
being returned than were shipped. Naturally, we have steered away from 
it since." 

Teddy Roosevelt thought that sharks tasted bully, and said so pub- 
licly, to try to get people to eat shark meat during World War I. Roose- 
velt called for an endorsement from one of his friends, Russell J. Coles, 
long-time watcher and catcher of sharks in the Carolinas. Coles boasted 
that he had sampled no less than 18 varieties of shark and ray. At Roose- 
velt's behest. Coles replied to the inevitable question— What does shark 
taste like?— with the following enthusiastic answer: 

"Nurse shark, fairly good for food, although tougher than most 
species; Smooth Dogfish, one of the most delicious fish that exists; Cub 

Shark-Eating Men 163 

shark, of strong odor, but, when specially prepared, suitable for food; 
Hammerhead shark, a crowning dish for dinner; Bonnet-Nosed shark, 
ranks well up as food; Sandbar shark, most desirable for food; Barndoor 
skate, excellent for food; Clear-Nose skate or Brier ray, good eating, 
similar to shrimp; Small Electric ray, flavor deUcious; Large Sting ray, 
good for food; Sand skate or Butterfly ray, good; Spotted Sting ray, ex- 
cellent, flavor similar to bluefish; Cow-Nosed ray, flavor similar to scal- 
lops; Eagle ray, excellent, with the flavor of scallops; Small Devilfish, 

But the combined efforts of Cole's eulogy of cooked shark, Roose- 
velt's fervent defense of it— and even sheer patriotism— did not get 
Americans to eat shark. 

It seems to take something as colossal as a world war to get Ameri- 
cans even to think about eating shark. In World War II, once again the 
Bureau of Fisheries called upon the meat-rationed public to build up 
their protein intake by eating all kinds of fish, including shark. One of 
the authors. Captain Young, was delegated to catch a batch of sharks to 
start the nation's second wartime sharks-are-good-for-you campaign. 
Captain Young recalls, 

I had an order to send a thousand pounds of fresh shark to a New York 
corporation for distribution to their customers. I went shark fishing on the 
Gulf of Mexico, off Biloxi, Mississippi, and caught Duskies, Black Tip and 
Sharp-Nose by hand line from shrimp boats. The shrimp men throw millions 
of pounds of what they call "trash fish" into the water when they sift through 
their catches for shrimp. The sharks were abundant. 

When I caught the sharks, I used a trick I knew to make their flesh whiter. 
I cut their tails off^ as soon as they were hauled aboard. The blood drains out 
of their bodies through two big arteries that lead to the tail. As soon as we got 
ashore, I shipped the sharks to New York by express, on dry ice. They arrived 
in perfect shape, and, I found out later, most of the customers liked what they 

But, knowing that there was a prejudice against the word "shark," the com- 
pany decided to sell the fish under the name of "Crayfish." But the government 
ordered the company to sell the shark as shark, and that was the end of that. 

The camouflaging of shark with another name is a ruse that has been 
used— and is still being used— in many parts of the world. The British 
have been eating shark and skate for centuries, at times under disguised 
names. An anonymous Elizabethan poet, chronicling the fish "that's eata- 
ble to us," rhapsodizes the herring, cod, mackerel, sole, and whiting; 
then, in a wretched rhyme, says: 

The haddock, turbet, berb, fish nourishing and strong; 
The thornback and the scate, provocative among. 

164 Man and Shark 

That last line, which mentions the Thornback skate {Raja clavata) 
and presumably the Common skate {Raja batis), may not be very poetic, 
but it is candid. And it establishes that Elizabethans called a skate a 
"scate." Shakespeare also referred to sharks, though not in ways that 
complimented them as food. The recipe for witches' stew in Macbeth 
calls for 

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, 

Witches^ jnuniiny, ?naw and gulf 

Of the ravin'' d salt-sea shark. 

And dogfish found its way into Henry VI, Part One, though only as 
an ingredient of a complex pun. When Talbot is speaking angrily about 
the slaying of Salisbury before Orleans, he vows revenge: 

Frenchmen, Vll he a Salisbury to you: 
Pucelle or puzzel, dolphin or dogfish, 
Your Hearts Vll stamp out with my horse''s heels 
And make a quagmire of your mingled brains. 

Dogfish was used commonly in Shakespeare's time as an opprobrious 
epithet. Dolphin was a pun on the Dauphin of France. 

Elizabethans ate a variety of selachian dishes, and, when the export- 
ing of fishes to the Continent drove domestic prices up, British fish 
eaters became angry men. In 1578, a group of them drew up a stirring 
petition which began: 

Whereas divers kinds of sea fishes, as congers, hakes, pilchards, skates, rays, 
thornebags [Thornback skates], papillions [Butterfly rays], and dogs [dogfish] 
being necessary victuals for the people of this realm . . . now of late altered 
from their kinds by curing without salt or otherwise converting them into gross 
oils, for the contention of foreign realms and to the great increase of dearth and 
lack and penury of this realm . . . 

Some of the methods of preparing skates and dogfish in the British 
Isles in the old days would paralyze a modern palate. In the Shetland 
Islands of Scotland, skate was buried in the ground to cure it, and it 
was said to have an unusual flavor after its resurrection. In the Highlands, 
"sour skate" was produced by simply hanging skates up to dry for a few 
days in the open air. Dogfish was also skinned, to prevent identifica- 
tion, then cut open, dried outdoors, and sold as a special kind of salmon! 

Perhaps because of sour skates and phony salmon, the eating of 
sharks and skates eventually became unpopular in Britain. The modem 
emergence of shark as a British food fish came around 1904, during an 
industrial depression. 

Fried fish retailers, looking for a cheap fish they could sell to the poor 
and still make a profit, discovered that they could buy dogfish for as 

Shark-Eating Men 165 

A Fishmonger's Shop, painted by Alex Fraser in 1812, shows two skates in the fore- 
ground, proving then— as now— that skates were on the British menu. 

Courtesy, Lord Leverhulnie 

little as two shillings for 140 pounds. The fried fish sellers dubbed the 
dogfish "Rock Salmon," and, with a side order of fried potato chips, sold 
portions of it for one and a half pence, which is about as cheap as a 
meal could be. 

Dogfish— the Rock Salmon pseudonym did not fool people very 
long— failed to catch on, especially when better times came to the poor 
and a man could afford more than a penny and a half for a square meal. 

166 Man and Shark 

By the eve of World War I, dogfish had become victims of prosperity. 
Cursed as trash, they were thrown away by the fishermen unlucky 
enough to land them. 

But, just as grass is always greener in the yard next door, so, ap- 
parently, are sharks more tasty from foreign waters. For, around 1922, 
the English began importing dogfish from Norway, even though British 
waters abounded with them. The Norwegian dogfish, well packed and 
in prime condition, again found a ready market among the fish 'n' chips 
merchants. The merchants claimed that the dogfish were fine for frying 
because they absorbed less oil. Put a mess of dogfish in a deep-fat 
fryer, the merchants said, and the dogfish would use up less fat than a 
comparable weight of bony fish. 

Today, more than 17,000,000 pounds of dogfish and 24,000,000 
pounds of skates and rays are landed in Great Britain each year, much 
of the catch finding its way into London's Billingsgate Market, the acre 
of fish and fishmongers which has been noisily supplying Englishmen 
with their fish for centuries. 

A single boat in a single day may land as much as a ton of salable 
dogfish. In official publications and in fishery reports, the catches are 
frankly described as dogfish, skate, and ray. The old habit of disguising 
the selachians with fanciful names still persists, however. Good old 
"rock salmon" is still used, along with "nursehound,"^ "flake" and "huss." 
No longer fashionable, probably because it was just a bit too much, is 
"Folkestone beef." 

Calling upon Britishers to face the dogfish name problem squarely, 
a Member of Parliament recently went on record with a plea for stand- 
ardizing shark nomenclature. He lamented the habit of calling all species 
of sharks by the same name, dogfish. Spur dogfish, he orated, is "sweet 
and nutritious"; Sandy dogfish is "quite good to eat." But some kinds 
of dogfish, he thundered, "smell like a polecat." 

The honorable MP's confusion is shared by many an Englishman, 
for no less than six species of vaguely named sharks are eaten in Great 
Britain, and some of them, at times, do smell like polecats. The pungency 
of one has led to its being nicknamed "Sweet William," after a British 
flower that has a pleasant scent. The British common and scientific 
names of the dogfish regularly marketed as food in England are: the 
Pinked dogfish {Squalus acanthias). Lesser Spotted dogfish (Scyllhmi 
cafiicula), and Greater Spotted dogfish (Scylliufn catulus). 

Today, in the more than 17,000 fish 'n' chips shops that flourish 
in Britain, dogfish and skates are among the most popular fish. But 
sharply distinguished geographical zones have somehow spnmg up to 

2 This is a "popular" name for all dogfish in the British Isles. 

Shark-Eating Men 167 

separate one area's "fish" in fish 'n' chips from another area's "fish." 
Cod seems to cut across all geographical lines. Hake is used in the shops 
of Lancashire and South Wales; haddock is preferred in Leeds and in 
the industrial areas of Yorkshire; small haddock appears in Scottish 
shops. In London and the south of England, skate and dogfish still 
reign supreme, however. In Ireland, the fleshy "wings" of skates and 
rays are the mainstays of fish 'n' chips shops. 

For many years, Italy imported Porbeagle sharks from Scandinavia. 
When Benito iMussolini rose to power, however, he forbade the import- 
ing of alien sharks, apparently because he did not want Italians disparaged 
as shark-eaters. Despite II Duce's edict, Norwegian and Danish sharks 
were smuggled into Italy. Nowadays, although some 60 species of sharks, 
skates, and rays can be found in Italian waters, the Italians are once 
more importing Scandinavian sharks. A4ost of the Norwegian and Danish 
catch of Porbeagle shark {Lamna nasus)— over 1,000,000 pounds a year- 
is iced and shipped to Italy. 

Norway, which has solved the problem of preserving fresh shark, 
has a long list of customers for its millions of pounds of sharks, skates, 
and rays. Norwegian exports of selachians for January to June, 1961, 
included more than 4,000,000 pounds of dogfish to Great Britain and 
Northern Ireland and about 2,000,000 pounds more to Sweden, Belgium, 
Holland, Luxembourg, France, Italy, and West Germany. Another 
5,000,000 pounds of frozen dogfish were sold to most of these countries, 
along with East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. Norway also 
exported some 500,000 pounds of skates and rays during that six-month 

Norway has perfected a process for preserving dogfish and keeping 
them in nearly perfect condition for long periods of time. The sharks 
are cleaned and the belly walls are cut away. They are then packed in 
boxes in an alginate jelly and placed in refrigerators at a temperature of 
— 15°C. for 24 to 36 hours. The fish are frozen solid, but the jelly is 
not. The jelly forms a protective coating in which the fish may be 
preserved indefinitely. The fish can thus be removed singly from the 
packing boxes as they are sold. This is the first process that has enabled 
packers to preserve shark in a fresh state. 

In Norway, the eggs of the dogfish {Squaliis acanthias) and of skates 
are used in puddings as a substitute for hen's eggs. As a matter of fact, 
the eggs of this dogfish contain more yolk than do hen's eggs. 

More than 2,500,000 pounds of shark were landed in Germany in 
1959. Porbeagle sharks are sold in the markets at prices more than twice 
as high as those for plaice (a flounder) and nearly four times higher 
than cod. Other species of shark are among the cheapest fish, selling for 
about the equivalent of a penny a pound, or slightly above the going 

168 Man and Shark 

price for herring. Some sharks are marketed under the trade name "Sea 

Norway ships iced belly-walls of dogfish to Germany, where they 
are prepared by smoking. During the smoking, they curl up. These are 
a deUcacy called Schillerlocken, after the long, flowing curls affected 
by the poet Schiller. Usually sold packaged, they are a popular food in 
thousands of homes. 

In Denmark and Sweden, the tender meat of the Thornback or 
Thorny Maid skate {Raja clavata) is savored as a substitute for lobster. 
About 500,000 pounds of Thornbacks are caught each year in Denmark 
alone. The Common skate {Raja batis), which also ranks with lobster 
as a seafood on Danish and Swedish tables, is hauled in at the rate of 
220,000 pounds a year by Danish fishermen. 

Such statistics are feeble, however, when the world-wide catch of 
sharks, skates, and rays is compared to the catch of fishes that are not 
saddled with prejudice. A United Nations survey of food fish in 1956 
showed that selachians accounted for a bare 1 per cent of the world's 
total marine and fresh-water harvest. Herring, sardines, and anchovies, 
by comparison, accounted for 24 per cent. 

These UN statistics are not wholly reliable, however. Some countries, 
perhaps because of a piscatorial form of nationalism, do not report any 
landings of sharks, skates, and rays. One of the authors has seen all 
these unmentioned selachians on sale in markets of countries whose 
fisheries reports to the UN are sharkless. 

In nations where common sense has won out over prejudice, sharks 
have become a dietary staple, and an extremely nutritious one, too. 
Analyses of the flesh of a lowly dogfish {Sqiiahis acanthias) have shown 
that it contains more protein and more energy value per pound than 
eggs, milk, oysters, mackerel, lobster, or salmon. Yet, in the United 
States and Canada, this same dogfish is labeled a predator and marked 
for execution, not for use as food. Since 1956, the Canadian government 
has been posting a bounty on dogfish in an attempt to eradicate them 
as a pest. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed a bill authorizing the 
U.S. Department of the Interior to spend up to $95,000 a year to find 
new ways to exterminate dogfish or to find some use for them. The 
fact that some countries have found a use— as food— has been almost 
totally overlooked in the United States. Driven by an obsession to ex- 
terminate sharks instead of utiUzing them, American fishermen annually 
destroy tons of dogfish. 

At a time when a burgeoning population is exhausting traditional 
food supplies, such wanton destruction of a cheap, abundant, nutritious 
maritime resource is absurd. The world's 2,900,000,000 population has 
almost doubled in the past 70 years and is expected to redouble every 

Shark-Eating Men 169 

42 years from now on, if the current explosion continues at its present 
phenomenal rate. Population experts believe that only by more efficient 
exploitation of the riches of the sea can the new mouths be fed. 

A study of the catch per unit of effort for long-line-caught sharks 
made during cruises by Pacific Oceanic Fisheries research vessels during 
1956 showed that six species are captured commonly and are abundant 
over wide areas. 

The White-Tip and the Brown are equatorial; the A'lackerel shark 
less abundant but wide-ranging; the Great Blue very abundant in colder 
waters; the Bonito shark, scarce; and the Thresher, not uncommon but 
subject to unknown factors causing it to appear only in certain longi- 
tudinal belts and nowhere else. All of which indicates that (a) the sharks 
are there and (b) we know almost nothing about their habits. 

In the 90 billion acres of ocean that girdle our crowded planet, an 
incredibly bountiful crop is often unharvested. That crop is fish, a 
food rich in protein and containing— unlike some forms of protein on 
land— all the amino-acids essential to the human diet. Yet, while an 
estimated two out of every three persons on earth are not getting even 
a minimum protein diet, one of nature's finest and most readily obtained 
sources of protein is virtually ignored. Some one billion tons of fish- 
about 30 times the current world catch— could be landed each year, 
and not from depleted fishing grounds such as the North Sea. But the 
technology of fishing remains for the most part on the level of primitive 
hunting, not on the level of modern farming. But we are awakening, 
at last, to the fact that more fish must be harvested to feed a famished 
world. In its Freedom-from-Hunger Campaign, the Food and Agriculture 
Organization of the United Nations is seeking ways to catch and use more 
fish. And among them is the shark. 

Fortunately, in some countries where the population explosion is 
particularly critical, sharks are being caught and used for food. Cen- 
turies ago, Arab fishermen introduced shark fishing to natives along 
the East African coast. Not until a few years ago, however, was shark 
fishing carried on as a large-scale commercial venture. To meet the de- 
mand for a low-priced protein food among Africans in Kenya, the Fish 
Division of the Kenya Game Department began teaching native fisher- 
men modern fishing techniques. Hand-made nets of the lowest grade of 
cotton, quick to tear and rot, were replaced by tough, rot-resistant 
nylon nets. Modern marketing procedures were introduced. 

Now a native fishing boat proudly pulls into a port such as Malindi 
with perhaps 30 or 40 sharks and a couple of Mantas. Some of the flesh 
is cut into small chunks that are sold for a dime each. And each Friday 
in Malindi, after midday prayers, the fish auction beings. In a babel of 
a dozen African and Arabic tongues, dealers bid excitedly for salted 

170 Man a?2d Shark 

A big Hammerhead shark is weighed in Malindi, Kenya, before being cut up for salting 
and selHng. Sharks are sold in a fish auction in Malindi, where tons of sharks are 
marketed annually. Virtually every bit of the shark is used in some way. The liver oil, 
for instance, is used in the tanning of leather and also as a wood preservative for native 
dhows. Courtesy, Veld & Vlei Magazine 

shark meat. So great is the demand for the food that local waters cannot 
supply enough, and shark meat is imported. 

Meat is not the only shark product Kenyans are using. They have 
learned to use other products from the shark's ample "larder." Oil, used 
for leather tanning and wood preservation, is extracted from the sharks' 
livers; fins are exported for sharkfin soup fanciers; from the gelatinous 
fibers in the fins comes an ingredient for luxury soap; the skin is shipped 
off to European tanneries to be made into leather; the teeth are sold for 
novelties; and fertilizer is made out of virtually all that is left. 

Sharks have made a boom town out of the little South African fishing 
village of Gansbaai, 115 miles east of Cape Town, on the tip of the great 
continent. For generations, the fishermen of Gansbaai have been ignoring 
the sharks off their shore, and Gansbaai remained a sleepy little village. 
Then, in 1950, a shark industry was begun. Now, on some days, more 
than 2,000 sharks are delivered to the Gansbaai Fishery Cooperative. The 
sharks are mostly the familiar Soupfins also found in California waters, 
and, as once they were in California, the Soupfins (called Vaalhaai in 
Gansbaai) are tapped for their "gray gold." 

Shark-Eating Men 


The cooperative sells the livers to a pharmaceutical manufacturing 
company which operates a small oil-extraction plant in the village. About 
2,800 pounds of oil are processed each dav during the shark-catching 
season, \\hich runs from April to September. Shark meat, for which 
many African natives have developed a taste, is shipped to the Congo, 
Ghana, and Mauritius. Dried fins are exported directly to China. Some 
fishermen make as much as $56 a day catching sharks— and they are 
caught the hard way, on hand-lines! With the shark came prosperity. 
Fishermen's tiny cottages gave way to larger, more comfortable homes. 
Big power boats replaced the traditional cockleshell skifi^s. Electricity 
and telephones appeared for the first time in most Gansbaai homes. All 
because of the shark. 

The Pacific Ocean teems with sharks. American fishermen using long- 
lines to catch Pacific tuna have cursed the thousands of sharks that 
were caught on hooks intended for tuna. In Australia long-lines are 
used to catch sharks. 

Out of Melbourne harbor and into Bass Strait, which separates the 
mainland of Australia from Tasmania, sails a 50-foot boat, especially 

A Imuf Sax^fisli. takfii iitf Maliiieli. Kin\a. is part of the catch wiiich Atrican fishermen 
hauled in during a regular shark-fisliing voyage. The Sawfish broke through the nets, 
which are usually strong enough to hold the sharks which make up most of the 
Malindi catches. The nets are of nylon, which are said to be three times more effective 
than nets made of cotton. One advantage of nylon, besides its strength, is its tendency 
to blend with the color of the sea. Cotton nets cannot be used in bright moonlight 
because they show up and the sharks bypass them. Courtesy, Veld & VM Magazine 

172 Man a?id Shark 

designed to catch shark. When the boat reaches the sharking grounds, 
a winch unwinds the long-Une, which has 300 to 500 hooks strung from 
it. Buoys mark the ends of the lines. This one boat may sow as many 
as 2,000 hooks for the shark harvest. When the hooks are pulled in by 
the winch, a three-man crew works with assembly-line speed. As each 
4- or 5-foot shark is hauled over the stern, it is swiftly gaffed, unhooked, 
and beheaded by one man. Another man is working the winch. A 
third is cleaning the beheaded sharks as they are tossed to him. This is 
not a pleasant job, for fresh sharks develop an ammonia-like odor and, 
on a warm day, the odor is so overwhelming that the crewmen often 
suffer headaches, stiffness of the jaws, and nausea. 

But the suffering pays off. A catch of 160 sharks is not unusual. 
Each averages about 22 pounds, dressed. That adds up to 3,520 pounds 
of fish, and in Melbourne, where more shark is sold than any other 
variety of fish, the catch would be worth more than $300. 

Shark was once discreetly called "flake" in Australia, but in recent 
years it has been sold openly as shark, in both Australia and New Zealand, 
and the demand has been great enough to produce large-scale commercial 
shark fishing. So unrestrained did the shark fishing become, in fact, that 
the Commonwealth Fisheries Office began a campaign to protect certain 
sharks from extinction— and this in a country where bathers have been 
trying for years to protect themselves from the shark! Sharks classified 
as "man-eaters" are not sold in Australian markets, but this is the only 
commercial notice paid to those sharks that reverse Australians' shark- 
eating habits. 

The Fisheries Office tried to educate shark fishermen in the ways of 
conservation by circulating a film whose title. These Sharks Need Pro- 
tection, must have struck Australian bathers as rather ironic. Finally, 
strict conservation laws had to be passed, despite the opposition of some 
fishermen. The two principal protected sharks used for food in Aus- 
tralia are the Schnapper, School, or Sharpie shark {Galeorhiniis ajistralis), 
which grows to about 5 feet, and the Gummy shark (Mustelus antarcti- 
cus), which usually grows to about 3 feet. The Gummy gets its name 
from its "toothless" appearance. Actually, it has pavement-like teeth. 
Because of its tendency to stink after it has been out of the water a 
while, it is called by a name imported from England: "Sweet William." 

Government-sponsored studies of the School shark have shown that 
a strict conservation program is necessary if Australians are going to 
enjoy eating shark for many years to come. Although females usually 
carry about 28 young, it takes 12 years for the smallest female School 
shark to give birth to her first brood. And the smallest male does not 
mature until it is at least 10 years old. For some reason, only about half 
of the adult females carry young each year. All these facts add up to 

Shark-Eating Men 173 

an unusual situation in the usually fecund sea, for they indicate that 
there is never a population explosion among School sharks. 

For generations, Australians hated all sharks, and certainly any preju- 
dice against the shark there had a better basis than in most other coun- 
tries. But when species of sharks were found that provided tasty, nu- 
tritious, and abundant food, Australians began eating shark. Australian 
mothers even discovered a dividend— shark meat is boneless, and can 
be fed to small children without risk. Australia's acceptance of sharks, 
as shark, on the dinner table is rare among so-called civilized countries, 

Prejudice against the shark has been traced back to the Bible: "These 
may ye eat of all that are in the waters: Whatsoever hath fins and scales 
in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them may ye eat. . . . What- 
soever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that is a detestable thing 
unto you" (Leviticus 11:9-12). In the opinion of Isaac Ginsburg, zoologist 
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to whom this Biblical admonition 
was submitted for a modern interpretation on ichthyological grounds, 
sharks are not under the ban. Ginsburg points out that sharks and, 
presumably skates and rays, have both fins and scales, though the scales, 
in the form of denticles, are technically placoid scales, and differ 
markedly from the usual scales found on fish. Ginsburg extends his 
opinion to cover shark liver oil. But, whether for religious reasons or 
not, Israel consumes but little shark. 

The followers of Mohammed are split on the shark issue. In the Per- 
sian and Oman Gulfs, the eating of fish without scales— both sharks 
and catfish are included— is forbidden by the dietary laws followed by 
the Shiah Mohammedans who predominate in Iran. The Sunni Muslims 
of the Arabian Peninsula, who consider themselves orthodox and the 
Shiahs heretics, do eat the sharks they catch in the Persian Gulf, In the 
Philippines, researchers of the Fish and Wildlife Service were surprised 
to learn that Christian Filipinos rarely eat shark, but A4uslim Filipinos 
eat shark with gusto. 

Status-building may inspire abstinence from shark. Until recent years, 
shark was the usual ingredient of fish cakes made and sold in Hawaii. 
Perhaps it was merely coincidental, but, as Hawaii edged toward state- 
hood, the territory's selachian dietary habits started falling in line with 
those of the mainland United States. Marlin and swordfish gradually took 
the place of shark in fish cakes. The average Honolulu shark landings 
fell off from an average of 21,000 pounds a year to 200 pounds in 1954 
and twelve pounds in 1955. The shift in diet has touched ofi^ a marine 
chain reaction. Sharks have begun building up in ever-increasing num- 
bers. Federal fisheries experts predict that more and more food fish 
will be devoured by Hawaiian sharks. This, the experts say, will result 

174 Man and Shark 

in poor fishing for both commercial and sports fishermen around Hawaii. 
It probably could increase the danger of attacks on Hawaiian bathers. 
And all this may be due to Hawaiians not putting shark meat in their fish 

In Latin America, the eating of sharks is a custom that varies from 
nation to nation, and often from village to village. In Peru, for instance, 
sharks are eaten by people of all classes, as is the Guitarra, or Guitarfish, 
(Rhinobatos). But the skate— considered an epicurean dish in some coun- 
tries—is looked upon as a dish fit only for the very poor. In Mexico, 
shark is one of the principal food fishes, and the annual catch is measured 
in millions of pounds. In Venezuela, both Sawfish (Pristis pectinatus) 
and shark are eaten. The sharks of several unspecified species are called 
simply cazon. A 1948 U.S. survey of the Brazilian fishing industry 
showed that 16 selachian genera, from Alopias (Thresher sharks) and 
Ginglymostoma (Nurse sharks) to Sphyrna (Hammerhead sharks) and 
Trygoji (Sting rays) were included among commercial fishes. 

No statistics are available on shark consumption in Communist China, 
but it is known that the importing of shark fins has been forbidden. 
Shark fin soup, an epicurean dish of Old China, is looked upon by the 
Peiping Communist regime as decadent and bourgeois— a luxury that 
has no place in a People's Republic. 

In Old China, shark fin soup was part of the delicate filigree of 
protocol and manners that entwined an ancient culture. The ingredients 
of shark fin soup included, most of all, time and contemplative labor. 
Only a fine chef would dare attempt to make shark fin soup, and only 
the finest chef would risk his reputation on the almost sacred task of 
creating the supreme repast. The Shark Fin Dish. 

Chinese hosts in Old China were often judged by their chef's ability 
to make shark fin soup and The Shark Fin Dish. And the host needed a 
finely tuned sense of tact as well as a sensitive palate. To provide a 
banquet with shark fin soup for an honored guest and to fail to serve 
shark fin soup to a guest of equal social rank— this was the grossest 
gaucherie. The serving of shark fin soup could be used to show favor, 
and the withholding of it could show contempt. The Shark Fin Dish 
was reserved for the especial guest, a man who would have few or no 
social rivals. 

Twenty or more dishes— thousand-year t^g, bear's claw, frog, turtle, 
snail— might have been served at a banquet. The cost of them all hardly 
equaled the cost of The Shark Fin Dish. 

People in Korea, China, and Japan have been eating shark since 
earliest recorded times. In 1956, according to a United Nations survey. 
South Korea landed nearly 15,000 tons of sharks and rays. About the 
same amount was landed by Taiwan's fishermen. In Hsinchu, on the 

Shark-Eating Men 175 

west coast of Taiwan, shark fishermen have developed a kind of per- 
petual-motion system. They catch sharks, use the flesh for food, and 
then feed the shark offal to cultivated eels, which, in turn, are used as 
bait to catch more sharks. 

Probably nowhere on earth are sharks consumed as avidly as in Japan, 
whose annual landings of sharks, skates, and rays are measured in the 
thousands of tons. The lower grade sharks are made into fish cakes, 
called kamaboko. About 420,000 tons of kamaboko are produced in 
Japan each year. Shark is also sold both fresh and canned. Smoked shark, 
marinated in soya sauce, is one of the canned products of the large 
Japanese shark fisheries industry.^ This product, sold as smoked shark- 
meat, is exported, in relatively small quantities, to the United States as a 
gastronomic oddity. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 
—UNESCO— has described the virtually untapped fishing resources of 
the Indian Ocean as one of the most vital food-harvesting areas on 
earth. Some 726,000,000 people live in the tropical and subtropical regions 
around the Indian Ocean, and the ver^^ survival of millions of them, a 
UNESCO report says, depends on the fish in the Indian Ocean. These 
fish, says UNESCO, appear to be the only readily available food for 
combating the "prevalence of diseases attributed to protein starva- 
tion" that are common in India, Ceylon, Indonesia, Malaya, and parts 
of the east coast of Africa. 

And among the many abundant fish found in the Indian Ocean are 
sharks. Surveys in the Seychelles Islands, which lie in the western 
portion of the Indian Ocean, have shown an astounding abundance of 
sharks, many of which seem to be species peculiar to those isolated 
islands. Fishing explorations aimed at developing a viable fishery in- 
dustry in the Seychelles have had shark-catching experiences reminiscent 
of the tuna long-lining explorations in the Pacific. One expedition, for 
example, boated 15,287 pounds of various fish— and 24,326 pounds of 
shark. "It is possible to fish exclusively for sharks, but it is rarely possible 
[to fish for bony fishes without catching sharks as well," a survey report 

Sharks, skates, and rays are eaten by most nations whose shores are 
washed by the great Indian Ocean. Indians, for instance, eat shark. On 
the west coast of India, sharks and rays are a favorite food of all classes. 
In the eastern coastal districts of Madras, only the very poor eat sharks 
and rays. Under a government-sponsored program, shark-liver oil is dis- 
tributed to hospitals and sold at low prices to the public to increase the 
vitamin A in their diet. 

^ For more about Japanese and Chinese shark-eating customs and recipes, see 
the Appendix. 

176 Man and Shark 

In the Chagos Archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the 
eating of shark, oddly enough, has led to an increase in the consumption 
of pork. After sharks have been butchered for meat, their carcasses are 
fed to pigs, which would otherwise find little to eat on the islands. The 
pigs grow fat on the protein-rich diet, and produce enough progeny to 
keep pork in the islanders' diet. 

UN-sponsored research has also found another use for meal made 
from shark meat: flour. Actually, fish flour is so nutritious compared to 
wheat flour that its developers feel "flour" is an inferior word to describe 
it. Flour produced from fish meal (virtually any kind of fish can be 
used) contains 85 per cent animal protein as compared with 15 per cent 
protein found in fresh meat and fish. This is one of the highest con- 
centrated protein substances yet developed by man. 

United Nations researchers say that the development of fish flour 
may mark a major victory in the battle to supply the mass of the world's 
people with adequate amounts of animal protein. Fish flour now can 
be produced at little more than the cost of flour made from wheat or 
maize. Further research will drive the cost down even further. Fish 
flour can be used any way wheat flour is used, from making bread to 
making spaghetti. 

In World Sea Fisheries,* a comprehensive world survey of the fishing 
industry. Selachians are recognized as important food fish from Europe 
to Japan. It will no doubt come as something of a surprise to most 
people to learn that thousands of tons of sharks, skates, and rays are 
caught annually by the fishermen of many countries. World Sea Fisheries 
gives these approximate 1951 tonnage catches of sharks and rays in 
leading shark-eating countries: 

Japan, 85,000 tons; Norway, 66,000; United Kingdom, 35,700; Spain, 
11,600; Belgium, 4,700; United States, 3,400; Denmark, 2,900; Eire, 2,- 
400; West Germany, 1,500; Iceland, 300; Canada, 200. These figures, 
probably derived largely from the Yearbook of Fishery Statistics,^ are 
incomplete. As indicated earlier, some countries do not keep any reliable 
figures and others, for one reason or another, do not report their com- 
mercial catches in standard classifications. 

But, as the accompanying table shows, the landings of sharks and dog- 
fish from commercial fishing are sometimes accurately reported. This table 
shows the 1961 Selachian landings in Denmark, in toto. 

The eating of shark has been going on since men first started catching 
oceanic fish. Some of the earliest Americans, shore-dwelling Indians in 
southeastern Florida, ate shark. Ancient Greeks and Romans not only 

''Robert Morgan, World Sea Fisheries (London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1956). 
5 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Yearbook of Fishery 
Statistics (Rome, Italy, annual). 

Shark-Eating Men 111 

Danish Landings, Value, and Exports of Sharks and Dogfish, 1961 * 

Herring Shark or Porbeagle ^ 

Piked Dogfish « 








U.S. $ 



U.S. $ 








Fresh — to: 

West Germany 
Other 3 








Total fresh 







Frozen — to: 







1 Lamna cornubica. 

2 Acanthias vulgaris. 

3 Individual countries not available in 1961, but in 1960 Belgium-Luxembourg, 
Switzerland, and Sweden imported almost 4 tons from Denmark. 

* Quantities of piked dogfish exported were so small they were lumped in an "Other" 
category and unavailable as to amount or value. 

* Herring sharks are taken in the North Sea and Skagerrak mostly by vessels fish- 
ing with long lines. Dogfish are taken incidentally in trawls and Danish seines. There is a 
fishery for Mackerel sharks in the Northwest Atlantic off the New England and Canadian 
coasts by a Faroese company utilizing three vessels. The sharks are frozen on board 
and sold in Italy under a current contract amounting to about $580,000. (Report of 
April 5, 1962, from the Regional Fisheries Attache, United States Embassy, Copen- 

From Commercial Fisheries Review, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Vol. 24, No. 6, 
June 1962. 

ate them, but also brought them into their arts and writings. Authors 
frequently discuss the eating of shark in the midst of learned essays. 
Epicharmus remarks that skate goes well with cheese. Lynceus of Rhodes 
twits the proud Athenians by writing that none of their fishes can com- 
pare in taste with the Rhodian fish supreme, the Thresher shark. The 
Roman satirist Petronius makes a comment on how men determine their 
values, noting: 

What must be sought, and dearly bought, 

Scari and Swans, toe prize; 

While skate and goose, in vulgar use, 

Men utterly despise. 

178 Man and Shark 

Soon after Plato's Republic became famous in Greece, the satirical 
playwright Aristophanes wrote a play, The Ecclesiazusae, in which he 
lampooned Plato's idea of an ideal republic founded on the principles 
of communal living, and he used the shark in his satire. 

In The Ecclesiazusae, Aristophanes has written of a communal state 
ruled by a council of women. Since there is no private property, the 
citizens eat in public halls at public expense. It is difficult to serve every- 
one what he wants, but the women valiantly try by offering a single 
meal that has everything on the Greek menu. The meal is described in 
what is probably the world's longest word, a word that runs to 77 
syllables in Greek, and when translated into Latin contains 179 letters. 
And right in the middle of it, along with the leek, the oyster, the wine 
sauce, and the pullet's wings, are the skate and the shark! 

chapter 8 

Shark Treasures 

The sharks are there— uncountable mil- 
lions of them— for any maritime coun- 
try whose people will eat shark and whose fishermen will catch them. 
But the hunting of sharks is a frustrating, hazardous, and usually not 
too profitable enterprise. And the capture of a shark can be an exploit— 
the duel of a solitary man in a rowboat against a thrashing, maddened 
shark often bigger than he or his boat. 

Sometimes shark-hunting methods are downright incredible. Around 
the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, a crude shark fishery has been built 
up. A six-week expedition in Seychelles waters has brought in 170 tons 
of sharks. 

Aboard some of the boats, the fishermen depend on "shark callers"— 
sea-going, self-proclaimed sorcerers. A shark caller drums his feet in a 
wild tattoo on the deckboards of the pirogue, then slaps the surface of 
the water with one hand and the hull with the other. Finally, he lets 
out a loud, spine-tingling wail. Fishermen swear that the antics of the 
shark caller do bring in sharks. 

Perhaps the fishermen of the Seychelles have found, at last, a socially 
useful purpose for rock 'n' roll troubadours. But they haven't found a 
way to make shark-catching commercially profitable. Only time, pa- 
tience, and some kind of government subsidy could do that. William 
Travis, an entrepreneur of shark fishing in the Seychelles, gave it up 
after two years. The logistics of commercial fishing called for more 
money than he had. Like many shark hunters, he managed to salvage 
an interesting book (Shark for Sale)^ out of the debris of his failure. He 
earned little else from sharks, however. 

If all the many by-products of the shark are tapped; if markets are 
developed for all of these by-products; if modern methods of catching, 
preserving, and utilizing these products are employed— then, and only 
then, can a shark industry be made profitable. On paper, at least, these 
profits are possible. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife study showed that $15 
to 120 could be earned on a good-sized shark, if it were utilized as 
thoroughly as the meat industry utilizes pigs or cattle. The study esti- 

^ William Travis, Shark for Sale (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1961). 


180 Man and Shark 

mated that a 400-pound Tiger shark would produce 112 pounds of 
edible meat, 20 pounds of dried meal, 8^ gallons of liver oil, 3 pounds 
of salable fins, $1.50 worth of teeth suitable for sale to curio dealers, 
and a hide worth at least $3. 

The trick is to catch enough sharks and then prepare them for 
market. Set your net or your Hne and you get only whatever species 
happen by. Shark meat spoils quickly. Livers begin turning bad as soon 
as the shark is dead. Hides can go sour if skinning is delayed as little 
as 6 hours. And after a full day's shark fishing— or, in the lairs of 
nocturnal sharks, a full night's fishing— the fishermen are too tired to 
put in another day's work immediately after they land. So they hire 
a work crew, thus driving up expenses. 

Though sharks may be abundant in a given area, they are known 
to become will-o'-the-wisps and vanish inexplicably from the places 
where, theoretically, they should be prevalent. 

Take the Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) for a bankrupting 
example. This huge, potentially valuable, and relatively easy-to-catch 
monster can afilict fishermen with acute economic anemia. Basking sharks 
run to at least 30, and perhaps 40 or more, feet in length; they weigh 
up to several tons. They are too colossal to be weighed accurately. They 
have immense livers, heavy with oil, and it is this oil that men have 
sought for centuries. 

For many years, the oil of the Basking shark played a part, with the 
oil of the whale, in lighting many of the lamps of the Western world. 
Most Basking sharks caught were stumbled upon by whalers, who were 
equipped to handle gigantic carcasses and would take on a Basker if it 
happened by. Not until modem times did single-minded men go after 
Basking sharks with any hope of making a living from them. 

One of these men was Gavin Maxwell, a British Army officer who set 
up a shark fishery on Soay Island in the Gulf of the Hebrides in 1947. 
Maxwell planned to get from the Basking shark liver oil, liver residue, 
fish meal, king-sized fins for shark fin soup, fertilizer, and chemical 
products from the great shark's enormous load of plankton. He caught 
a good number of Baskers and even sent some samples of the flesh to 
Billingsgate. But, as Maxwell later reported, the flesh merely appalled 
the dealers, for they found it "twitching in a disgusting way when the 
cases were opened in London." The twitching chunks of Basking shark 
were somehow symbolic of Maxwell's venture. He found the sharks 
hard to kill, hard to find a use for, and generally eerie, in an enormous 
sort of way. The venture failed. 

Another seeker after Basking sharks in Scottish waters was Anthony 
Watkins, a London clerk who put down his pen one day and took up 
a harpoon. Watkins usually harpooned Baskers from an open dinghy. 

Shark Treasures 181 

He and a companion would row up to a Basking shark— often so close 
that the dinghy was actually directly over the shark's huge back. Then 
Watkins would plunge a harpoon into the shark, leap nimbly out of the 
way of the whistling line attached to the harpoon, and let the shark 
tow the dinghy until it tired enough to be hauled up and lashed along- 
side a bigger boat that accompanied the dinghy. Once a shark towed 
Watkins' dinghy for 24 hours. The shark, harpooned in Kilbrannan 
Sound near the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, set a course due west when it 
left the Sound, and all that stood between Watkins' 8-foot dinghy and 
the United States of America was the open sea. When a rescue boat finally 
found Watkins, after the shark had towed him 100 miles, he had to cast 
off his indefatigable shark, which swam away with a 9-foot steel harpoon 
sticking out of its back and was never seen again. Watkins said he did 
eventually make some money on his Basking shark venture. He quit the 
business shortly before the price of shark oil plummeted. 

P. Fitzgerald O'Connor, a British writer turned sharker, also had a 
short-lived fling at catching Basking sharks. He said he broke even. 
Basking sharks produced for these three men an unusual by-product: 
books. O'Connor, Watkins, and Maxwell each wrote a book'- about his 
adventures, and each man's experiences and observations added much 
to the previously scanty scientific knowledge of the Basking shark. 

Today, on the small island of Achill off the western coast of County 
Mayo, Ireland, a group of hardy fishermen are pitting the luck of the 
Irish against the Basking shark. The great sharks— the Irish call them 
Tm/ZJo^m— appear out of nowhere around St. Patrick's Day, but not 
until the end of April, when the winter weather dies in Achill's Bay 
of Keem, can the fishermen go after the muldoa?is. 

Great nets are stretched across one side of the bay, and shark after 
shark blunders into them. Then men set out in small boats called currachs 
to battle the sharks, stabbing them with hand harpoons, and wrestling 
them out of the nets. As many as 30 sharks a day— most of them 25 
to 35 feet long— are captured in the bay during the season, which ends 
in July or August. From 60 to 70 gallons of oil are produced from the 
average shark, but the value of oil fluctuates wildly, and the market 
price is rarely stable. Low in vitamin content, the oil is used primarily 
for industrial purposes, such as in some tanning processes. The liver 
of the slaughtered sharks is usually all that is used; their carcasses are 
dumped at sea. Attempts have been made to induce Irish farmers to use 
pulverized shark meat in cattle feeds, but the farmers will have no 
mtddoans, ground up or not, upsetting the dietary traditions of their 

2 Maxwell's was Harpoon at a Venture (London: Rubert Hart-Davis, 1952); 
O'Connor's was Shark-O! (London: Seeker & Warburg, 1953), and Watkins' was 
The Sea My Hunting Ground (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1958). 

182 Man and Shark 

fine Irish cattle. The sharks' tremendous hides have defied efforts to make 
them into leather. Even the sharks' teeth, minute and very unter- 
rifying, are commercially worthless. 

American attempts to cash in on the goliath Basking shark have often 
shown a spectacular flair. In 1924, two men began harpooning Baskers 
for sport in Monterey Bay, California. Eventually they discovered that 
the big sharks could be turned into money. Meal made from the carcasses 
was used in livestock feed and dog biscuits, and a spiritual descendant 
of the old frontier snake-oil salesmen bottled and sold "Sun Shark Liver 
Oil" as "Nature's Own Tonic." The industry all but died out around 1938. 

After World War II, a new generation of California sharkers attacked 
the Basking sharks with a combined air-sea-land operation, using war 
surplus equipment. A shark-spotting aircraft patrolled the California 
coast around Monterey. When the pilot saw a school of sharks hving up 
to their name by basking on the surface, he began circling the sharks and 
radioed a crew standing by in an amphibious "Duck" vehicle parked 
on the beach. The Duck raced along the beach until it came opposite 
to the circling plane. Then it plunged into the surf and headed for the 
sharks, which were usually a quarter to a half mile offshore. 

As the Duck neared the school, a shark was selected and the sea- 
going truck bore down on it. The harpooner, in a "pulpit" rigged to a 
bowsprit, leaned down over the shark and plunged his 65-pound weapon 
into it. Attached to the harpoon were several hundred feet of %-inch 
manila rope. The heavy rope smoked as it ran out, pulled by tons of 
writhing energy plunging toward the bottom. Usually, 500 feet of rope 
ran out before the shark seemed to be tiring. A sealed oil drum was often 
tied to the line at about the 250-foot mark. This drum was intended to 
act as a drag on the fish, but frequently it was towed so deep below 
the surface that the pressure caused it to collapse. 

If and when the shark was finally subdued and pulled to the surface, 
it was shot with a 30/30 rifle. Only a shot through an eye or between 
the eyes could possibly kill a Basking shark, so it sometimes took hours 
to administer the coup de grace. After the shark was killed, it was tied 
to a buoy, and the Duck returned to shore to await another radio message 
from the plane. Meanwhile, another man of the group phoned processing 
plants until he found a customer. When a shark was sold, the Duck 
would return to the buoy, untie the shark and tow it to shore, where 
a winch hauled it up a ramp and into a truck. 

One hundred sharks were killed in one year at one beach by the 
shark commandos, and one champion harpooner killed 7 in a single 
day— with the same harpoon. The sharkers got 7 to 9 cents a pound for 
the sharks' livers, which weighed from 700 to 2,000 pounds. Nothing 
was paid for the carcasses, though the processing plants sometimes con- 
verted them into meal for chicken feed. One of the plants that handled 

Shark Treasures 183 

the huge fish was designed for a fish somewhat smaller. It was a sardine 

The price for livers eventually dropped to a point where the am- 
phibious sharkers were getting less than $35 for a 5 -ton fish that took 
an airplane, a Duck, and a crew of men to land. And finally, if not 
inevitably, the s^reat Basking shark adventure collapsed. By 1953, Basking 
shark fishing in California was described by the State Department of 
Fish and Game as sporadic. 

Sharks are often enemies of man, but the brigand can yield bounty, 
too. For the shark is a valuable fish. Locked in the livers of some sharks 
are oils often more potent in vitamins than cod liver oil, and a chemical 
found in the liver is leading medical researchers down promising new 
avenues in the search for ways to destroy two enemies of man far 
deadlier than the shark— cancer and heart disease. The denticle-armored 
skin is stronger than cowhide. 

Though the shark is a cornucopia of the sea, many attempts to bring 
this treasure to shore have ended in failure. When the stakes have been 
high enough, men have sought the shark, and the shark has made some 
of them rich. But, even when man's avarice is pitted against the shark, 
the odds of survival are on the shark. 

In 1938, sharks accidentally caught by U.S. fishermen were con- 
sidered worthless predators of useful fish, whose destruction of nets cost 
fishermen much more than they could ever make by selling the sharks' 
carcasses. The top price was $10 a ton. Most carcasses were ground up 
and used for fertilizer. 

Then the war in Europe began. German troops overran Norway, 
and abruptly a major source of a vital commodity was cut oflr from 
Great Britain and the United States— cod liver oil. Millions of pounds of 
cod liver oil had been exported for many years from Norway to the 
United States and England. Vitamin A was extracted from the oil and 
added not only to human diets but also to the diets of livestock and 
poultry. In both countries, a search began for new sources of the vitamin. 

In San Francisco, Tano Guaragnella, a wholesale fish broker, heard 
about the hunt for a substitute source of vitamin A. On a hunch, Gua- 
ragnella took some fresh shark liver to a chemist for analysis. The liver, 
from a dogfish {Squalus acanthias), produced an astonishing assay. There 
was ten times more vitamin A in the dogfish's liver than was usually 
found in the liver of the cod (Gadus woriia). 

Guaragnella went back to the docks and, as casually as he could, 
dropped the word to fishermen that he would pay $25 a ton for dog- 
fish. The fishermen thought he was crazy, but they started landing the 
"worthless" dogfish, of which there had never been a shortage on their 
fishing grounds. 

Soon after he made his discovery about the dogfish liver's vitamin 

184 Man and Shark 

potency, Guaragnella happened to see some fishermen dressing a Soupfin 
shark (Galeorhinus zy opterus) , whose colloquial name derived from the 
Chinese gourmet's preference for its fins in shark fin soup. Guaragnella 
noticed that the Soupfin's liver was immense. Again, he had a hunch. 

This time the chemist's report was fantastic. The liver of the Soupfin 
was ten times more potent in vitamin A than the liver of the dogfish, 
which meant that the Soupfin liver oil was 100 times richer in vitamin 
A than cod liver oil itself! 

Guaragnella announced that he would buy all the Soupfin sharks 
the fishermen could bring in, and that he would pay $40 a ton for them. 
Word of his startling offer flashed through the waterfront of San Fran- 
cisco and up the West Coast as far as Alaska. Soon, too, other whole- 
salers learned the secret of their competitor's sudden desire for shark 
livers. And the bidding for shark livers began. 

Another CaHfomia "Gold Rush" was on! The new El Dorado was 
called "gray gold," and the fishermen who set out to mine the California 
seas were as wild with "gold" fever as their prospecting predecessors 
had been. Prices, set by daily bidding in fishermen's exchanges, shot 
up from Guaragnella's original $40 a ton to $60 . . . $80 . . . $100. 
From Alaska to Mexico fishermen deserted their usual commercial fishing 
banks to seek a bonanza of Soupfins. The price kept rocketing. By 
September, 1941, it was hitting $1,200 a ton! 

The attack on Pearl Harbor was only three months away, but the 
Japanese suspended their growing belligerency toward the United States 
long enough to profit from the shark-oil boom. Tons of frozen shark 
liver were shipped out of Japan to meet the insatiable demands of the 
United States. 

And the bidding kept on. By the time the United States had entered 
the war, the price had hit $1,500 a ton. The average Soupfin was worth 
$25. Some of the larger ones were worth $200 each for their livers alone. 

Never before had fishermen earned so much money so quickly. A 
San Francisco fishing boat went off on a four-day Soupfin hunt and came 
back to the wharf with $17,500 worth of shark. One fisherman made 
$40,000 in five months. The professionals weren't the only ones making 
money. Students at the University of Washington skipped classes to fish 
for shark in Puget Sound. Farm boys who had never been to sea were 
recruited by shark fishermen and earned as much as $800 for a week's 

Most of the sharks were caught in gill nets, which are either suspended 
from the surface, like great curtains a half mile or more in length, or 
dropped to the bottom, where floats along their top and weights along 
their bottom keep them vertical. The sharks, pursuing smaller fish, 
such as sardines, swam into the diamond-shaped openings of the net's 

Shark Treasures 


A shark gill net as used in shark fishing on the U.S. Pacific Coast. Once the shark's 
gill slits are snagged in the net, it cannot get away. When shark fishing was at its 
zenith during the Soupfin shark bonanza, gill net vessels fished the entire coast from 
Washington to southern Califomia. Courtesy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

weave and were trapped when their gills or fins became snared by the 
net. Unable to back up, the sharks hung there. In their death struggles, 
the sharks often ruined the nets. Or hagfish {Myxine), a relative of 
the lamprey, provided with a rare opportunity to turn from prey to 
predator, attacked the enmeshed sharks. Like the fishermen, the hagfish 
were after the sharks' soft parts, and many a net was hauled up with 
liverless sharks. So many sharks were being taken and so great was the 
price, however, that the cost of damaged nets or damaged sharks could 
be absorbed by the West Coast fishermen, when as many as 200 sharks 
were pulled in with one haul of a net. 

While the frenzied, every-man-for-himself shark rush was going on 
along the West Coast of the United States and Canada, a more systematic 
assault on the shark was being organized in Florida by an organization 
known as Shark Industries, Inc. It had been found that other types of 

186 Man and Shark 

sharks also had livers rich in vitamin A. In 1944, this company was taken 
over by one of the best-known brand names in the country, a firm 
whose trademark was a happy, personable cow named Elsie— the Borden 
Company, largest processor of dairy products in America. Probably be- 
cause they did not want to get their customers' image of gentle Elsie 
confused with the fierce visage of Jack Shark, officials of the Borden 
Company did not ballyhoo their connection with sharks. It will un- 
doubtedly come as a surprise to many a milk-drinker to learn that 
sharks as well as cows provided him with his vitamin-enriched milk. 

The Borden Company is reputed to have invested at least a million 
dollars in the enterprise. Its shark fleet grew to 40 vessels, many of them 
equipped with refrigerated holds and capable of staying at sea for 
periods as long as six months. Instead of nets, the Borden ships usually 
relied on long-line fishing. Steel cables stretching out almost two miles 
were unwound from the bigger ships. Strung from the cables were large 
baited hooks about 40 feet apart. The cables, marked with buoys, were 
set out one day and hauled in the following day— and so were the sharks. 
As a power winch slowly brought in the cable, a man stood at the bow 
of the boat with a big wooden mallet. If a shark were still alive when 
gafi'ed, it was clouted on the snout and stunned, and a boom swung it 
into the hold. It could then thrash in the hold until it expired. 

It was arduous but profitable work. Off Salerno, Florida, where Bor- 
den's shark-catching eventually was concentrated, as many as 341 
sharks were caught in a single day by four boats. The weights of in- 
dividual sharks ranged as high as 1,500 pounds. In one month, 1,972 
sharks were brought in. One boat brought in a single catch of 182 

Borden also joined in the West Coast shark boom. But from the 
relentless overfishing of sharks there soon resulted a dramatic decline 
in Soupfins. In 1944, almost 53,000,000 pounds of shark were caught. 
That was the peak. Soupfins became more and more scarce. The price 
of their livers held up, though, finally reaching a giddy summit of 
$14.25 a pound. 

At a small fish-marketing and processing firm in Provincetown, 
Massachusetts, the production of oil from livers had been a minor side- 
line. Suddenly, the company was turning out more than $2,000,000 
worth of shark oil a year. Borden opened its own plant for the ex- 
traction of shark-produced vitamin A, which was added to dairy prod- 
ucts. By 1946, three cents of every dollar Borden earned came from 
non-food products and, for most of this, Borden's stockholders could 
thank the maligned shark, not Elsie. 

During the war, shark liver oil supplied approximately 75 per cent 
of the vitamin A produced in the U.S. Though shipyards were re- 

Shark Treasures 187 

stricted to turning out war vessels, the rule was lifted to permit the 
building of boats to go after sharks. And, as more and more sharks were 
caught under the inspiration of war and profit-making, more and more 
was learned, not only about vitamin A but also about the shark family 

Vitamin A came close to being labeled a panacea. It was found to 
stimulate growth, increase resistance to infection, aid in combatting fever 
and colds, and prevent excessive dryness of the skin. Not every shark's 
liver was packed with vitamin A. The potency, measured in U.S. Phar- 
macopoeia units, varied from 35 units to 43,000,000 units. The variance 
ranged from shark to shark and from species to species. 

West Coast fishermen, for the most part, threw away all but the 
liver, though canny Chinese traders usually managed to get the fins, 
which they sold at premium prices. Under Borden's aegis, however, a 
profit was made on virtually every ounce of the shark. The fins M^ere 
cut off and sold to shark fin buyers for as much as $6 a set. On this 
sideline alone, Borden sometimes made $3,000 to $5,000 a month. The 
teeth of some sharks were sold to costume jewelers. The entire jaws of 
big sharks were sometimes dried, preserved, and sold to would-be 
game fishermen. These jaws, as a Borden spokesman diplomatically put 
it, "found their way into trophy rooms on plaques with brass plates 
which could be inscribed at will." 

Some of the sharks' hides were tanned into leather. Prime shark meat 
was cut into steaks, frozen, and shipped to countries, primarily in South 
America, where there was, and is, no prejudice against eating shark. 
Less palatable meat went to Borden's Special Products Division, where it 
was used in poultry and livestock feed preparations. What was left of 
the shark was ground up for commercial fertilizer. 

The abundance of sharks in the Caribbean, and the profits that could 
be made from the shark's many products, soon came to the attention of 
the U.S. Department of State, which, as World War II neared its end, 
was concerned about the post-war economic problems of underdeveloped 
countries. The Anglo-American Caribbean Commission published and 
distributed to Caribbean fishermen a handbook on shark fishing. The 
booklet told fishermen how to identify and catch sharks, how to skin 
and process shark hides, and how to make a profit on shark liver, meat, 
fins, and even teeth. "Good-sized, sound sharks' teeth and sharks' jaws 
and backbones, either cleaned or made into novelty items," the booklet 
said, "have always been in demand by tourists." 

Cojimar, Cuba, the setting of Hemingway's classic. The Old Man 
and The Sea, was one of many places on the Gulf of A4exico where 
small "shark factories" sprang up. Most of the money came from liver 
oil, which was distilled in the factories by a simple method. Livers, 

188 Man a?id Shark 

chopped into fist-sized chunks, were rendered down in big vats. The 
oil was skimmed off, cooled, canned, and shipped to U.S. dealers for 
about $4.75 a gallon, depending on its vitamin potency. The process re- 
quired little skill and paid big dividends. 

From Ketchikan to Monterey on the West Coast of America, in the 
little towns of the Caribbean, in fishing ports where the shark had been 
a feared and hated enemy for generations, suddenly it was a boon. 
The shark was giving men profits instead of stealing them. 

But the intensive research into vitamin A was to have an ironic twist. 
Thanks to the abundance of vitamin A provided by the shark, scientists 
came to know the vitamin so well that they discovered how to make it. 
Vitamin A was synthesized. 

By 1950, the shark boom was over. It took some time for production 
of the man-made vitamin A to supplant the natural vitamin obtained 
from shark liver oil but, one by one, the shark fisheries folded up. In 
CaHfornia, where nearly 53,000,000 pounds of shark had been landed in 
a single year, shark catches shrank to a Uttle more than 1,000,000 pounds 
and finally dropped to the insignificant pre-boom level. In Washington 
State, where as much as $3,000,000 worth of sharks had been caught in 
a single boom year, dogfish livers began selling at 10 cents a pound, 
and the total value of shark livers plummeted in 1953 to $3,000. Borden's 
Elsie no longer had competition from any shark. In 1950, Borden went 
out of the shark business. Cojimar managed to hold out until 1958, when 
the little shark-oil factory shut down, and, once more, the shark became 
a nuisance or an enemy. 

A 1956 survey of California waters showed that the Soupfin, whose 
ranks had been thinned by the shark-oil boom, was again abundant. By 
careful fishing of all the shark species, the survey showed, from one to 
two billion pounds of shark could be caught a year within the range 
of California's fishing fleets. All that was needed was a market . . . 
But a market was no longer there. 

The menhaden is a prolific fish used almost entirely for processing 
into feed rather than for human consumption. It is a valuable commercial 
fish in the United States and is sought by fleets of boats. But it is also 
sought by sharks, and, as the great schools of menhaden sweep up and 
down the East Coast or through the Gulf of Mexico, they are inevitably 
accompanied by sharks, which take a heavy toll. In a letter to one of 
the authors, Harvey W. Smith of the J. Howard Smith Company, a 
major menhaden fishery, reported that his boats sometimes net as many 
as 70 to 800 sharks a day in the Gulf of Mexico. These 4- to 6-foot 
sharks do damage which, Smith said, "is beyond one's imagination." He 
added that the company spent $20,000 to repair or replace shark-ravaged 
nets in a single five-month season. 

Shark Treasures 

Tuna-fishing explorations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed the presence 
of great numbers of sharks in the central Pacific. The map shows some regions where 
various species predominated. Courtesy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

In the Pacific, tuna fishermen often haul in more sharks than tuna. 
And the tuna that are pulled in frequently are mutilated by hungry 
sharks. In 1950, the Pacific Oceanic Fishery Investigations research vessel 
John R. Manning trolled for tuna around the Line Islands. Tuna were 
found— and so were sharks. "They would follow the boat in schools 
of one hundred or more," during trolling, the researchers later reported, 
"frequently striking the lures even at 8 knots." The Blue shark {Frionace 
glauca) was the commonest catch. 

Fishing surveys have shown sharks to be as prevalent as most of 
the commercial fish being sought— and sometimes more so. Commenting 
on the incalculable abundance of sharks in the Pacific, Donald W. Stras- 
burg, fishery research biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 


Man and Shark 

Pacific Oceanic Fishery Investigations, said: "We are . . . faced with the 
problem of controlling shark numbers to protect our sport and com- 
mercial fisheries, or, better yet, of devising some means of utilizing this 
potentially valuable resource to the benefit of us all.'' [Italics ours.] 

Strasburg's statement is buttressed by many reports of shark abun- 
dance. One stretch of long-line hauled in by a tuna fisheries research 
vessel had on it 21 tuna and 73 sharks. Another long-line had strung 
upon it 169 tuna— 66 of which had been gouged by sharks— and 222 
sharks. An exploratory fishing expedition along the North Pacific coast, 
about 800 miles off Oregon and Washington, reported the capture of 25 
tuna— and 225 sharks. Similar reports have been made by exploratory 
fishing expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. One Gulf 

"♦T Buoy 

The sketch shows the Australian method of commercial shark fishing, which interested 
South Africans enough for a story about it to be published in the South African maga- 
zine Veld 6- Vlei. A line, with baited hooks, is payed out (left). The buoys it is 
attached to are anchored and left overnight. On the following day, the line is hauled 
up, usually with plenty of sharks on it. Courtesy, Veld & Viet Magazine 

Shark Treasures 191 

expedition for tuna found one-third of its catch "badly mutilated" by 
sharks; another fixed the shark damage at 19 per cent. Reporting on a 
1953 Gulf of Maine long-line exploration for tuna, J. J. Murray of the 
U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries said: "Shark catches totaled 493 
individuals (13 times the tuna catch) with an estimated round weight 
of 90,000 pounds." 

Yet, most of these sharks are being wasted. Almost invariably, they 
are thrown away as trash, when the fact is that they are not. For the 
most part, as we have seen, they are tasty, nutritious food, eaten in 
many parts of the world and in some areas of the United States. They 
are also the source of a wide variety of useful and amazing products. 

Since ancient times, the shark has been a source of magical potions. 
The Greeks of Aristotle's day believed that the ashes of a shark's tooth 
rubbed on a child's gums relieved teething pains; that shark brains boiled 
in oil and applied to an aching tooth eased the pain; that the flesh of the 
flat-bodied Monk or Angelfish prevented swelling of the breast; that the 
liver of the skate was a remedy for earache; that the brain of the Torpedo 
ray could be used as a depilatory; that the liver of the Sting ray cured 
scrofula, relieved itching, and cleared up skin diseases. 

Fishermen have insisted for years that shark oil is practically a 
panacea, equally good externally as a balm for rheumatism, an ointment 
for burns, or an antiseptic for cuts— and internally as a cough medicine, 
a laxative, and an all-around tonic. Sir Samuel Garth, a physician, in 1699 
mocked British apothecaries for using such outlandish pharmaceuticals 
as dried crocodiles and sharks' heads, but the use of selachian remedies 
persists to this day. A recent advertisement for "the most expensive 
facial preparation in the world" boasted that one of the beauty cream's 
priceless ingredients was shark oil, "so vital to skin health." 

Among some primitive peoples, the shark's claspers are regarded as 
exceptionally eflFective aphrodisiacs, and one of the charms of shark fin 
soup, according to some Chinese, is its aphrodisiac quality. '^ 

The uses of other shark products are often more practical than fanci- 
ful. Some Eskimos in Greenland make knives from the teeth of the 
Greenland shark (Sofmiiosus microcephalus) and cut their children's 
hair with the shark-knives, for iron is considered taboo for hair-cutting. 
The Eskimos also cut long strips from the hide of the Greenland shark, 
join the strips together, and use the tough shark hide as rope. Some 
American Indian braves lucky enough to encamp near fossil grounds 
used fossilized shark teeth— still sharp after millions of years— as razors. 

In the Sandwich Islands, now our fiftieth state of Hawaii, when the 

^ Maidens of ancient Rome who read their Pliny carefully would know how to 
counteract shark fin soup's amorous effects; all they had to do was eat the liver of a 
Torpedo ray, which Pliny said was an antaphrodisiac. 

192 Man and Shark 

men of a village went on a fishing trip, the women were left unde- 
fended, and warriors from neighboring villages often swooped in. The 
women needed a weapon with which to defend themselves at close 
quarters. They invented a Hawaiian version of the knight's mailed 
gauntlet— a glove whose back was studded with rows of shark teeth. 
The shark-tooth gauntlet transformed a lady-like slap into a blow that 
could scar a man for life. 

In his monumental study of Pacific folkways, Polynesian Researches, 
missionary William Ellis told in 1830 of the strange use shark teeth 
were put to in funeral services among the natives of the Georgian and 
Society Islands— the best known of which is Tahiti. The Reverend 
Ellis observed many of these practices at first hand during his stay in 
the islands in the early 1800s. He wrote: 

Almost every native custom connected with the death of relations or friends 
was singular, and none perhaps more so than the otohaa, which, though not 
confined to instances of death, was then most violent. It consisted in the most 
frantic expressions of grief, under which individuals acted as if bereft of reason. 
It commenced when the sick person appeared to be dying; the wailing then was 
often most distressing, but as soon as the spirit had departed, the individuals 
became quite ungovernable. 

They not only wailed in the loudest and most affecting tone, but tore their 
hair, rent their garments, and cut themselves with shark's teeth or knives in a 
most shocking manner. The instrument usually employed was a small cane, 
about four inches long, with five or six shark's teeth fixed in, on opposite sides. 
With one of these instruments every female provided herself after marriage, 
and on occasions of death it was unsparingly used. 

With some this was not sufficient; they prepared a short instrument, some- 
thing like a plumber's mallet, about five or six inches long, rounded at one end 
for a handle, and armed with two or three rows of shark's teeth fixed in the 
wood, at the other. With this, on the death of a relative or a friend, they cut 
themselves unmercifully, striking the head, temples, cheek, and breast, till the 
blood flowed profusely from the wounds. 

Otohaa, the missionary reported, was also performed as "an expression 
of joy, as well as grief." To celebrate a homecoming or a narrow escape 
from some danger or calamity, he wrote, "loud wailing was uttered, 
and the instrument armed with shark's teeth applied, in proportion to 
the joy experienced." 

A shark-tooth club, called the paeho, was also used in combat. It 
was "more frequently drawn across the body, where it acted like a 
saw," the missionary wrote. 

"Another weapon of the same kind resembled a short sword," he 
further reported, "but instead of one blade it had three, four, or five. 
It was usually made of a forked aito branch; the central and exterior 
branches, after having been pointed and polished, were armed along 

Shark Treasures 193 

the outside with a thick line of sharks' teeth, very firmly fixed in the 
wood." Still another selachian weapon was the aero fai, a Sting ray 
stinger, "which being serrated on the edges, and barbed towards the 
point, is very destructive in a dexterous hand." 

In the Ellice Islands of the Pacific, natives have found a more con- 
structive use for shark teeth. A tooth is lashed to a stick and used as a 
scalpel in crude surgery. 

The Maoris of New Zealand call the Seven-Gilled shark (Noto- 
ryjjchjfs cepediainis) that lives in their waters a tuatini. From its teeth 
they once made a saw-like instrument, the mira tuatina, which reputedly 
had one special use: cutting human flesh. The Maoris associated sharks 
with blood, war, and death. They mixed shark oil with red ocher and 
painted it on their war canoes and the funeral monuments erected in 
memory of their greatest chiefs. They also used shark oil as a cosmetic, 
a hair dressing, and for the anointing of bodies in their elaborate funeral 

Some Pacific islanders once used shark skins as drumheads; the skins 
were strong, did not stretch, and thus gave an unvarying tone. In Su- 
matra, the skin of the Cowtail ray {Dasy satis sephen) is used for making 
drums and tambourines. 

In Bermuda, natives have used shark oil to make a crude but, accord- 
ing to them, dependable barometer. They extracted oil from a shark's 
brain and liver and put it in a sealed bottle. When a storm approached, 
they claimed, the oil became cloudy. 

Eric Sloane, the historian of weather lore, tells in his Alvmnac and 
Weather Forecaster of an advertisement he found in an old Connecticut 
newspaper. The advertisement offered an "absolute weather predicter 
for one dollar ... A magic liquid that clouds up when it is about to 
rain." Sloane wonders if the magic liquid could have been shark oil. 
For several months, one of the authors kept a sealed bottle of shark oil 
in a window in his study. He cannot vouch for the oil's dependability 
as a weather "predicter," but it did cloud in cold weather and clear in 
warm. And, at the approach of a rainstorm, when temperatures usually 
drop, it also sometimes clouded. The cloudiness was caused by the 
solidifying of the oil. An hour in the refrigerator turned the oil into a 
semi-solid with the consistency of butter. Other authorities have vali- 
dated this statement, such as Dr. H. B. Moore of the University of 

When Australia was first settled in 1788, it was the oil of the shark 
that fended off the hostile darkness from most of the colonists' homes. 
David Collins, writing on Australia in 1794, said: "Nothing was lost; 
even the shark was found to be a certain supply; the oil which was 
procured from its liver was sold at one shilling the quart; and but very 

194 Man and Shark 

few houses in the colony were fortunate enough to enjoy the pleasant 
light of the candle." 

In more modern times, shark oil has been used in the tempering of 
high-grade steel, the manufacture of margarine, in pharmaceuticals, 
the currying of leather, the making of soap and cosmetics, as an oil in 
paints, as a lubricant of purest quality, and to clean the delicate works 
of watches. 

But it is the adamantine hide of the shark that man has best learned 
to utilize in a variety of intriguing and serviceable ways. Sharkskin began 
its long career in the Occident at the hands of ancient Greek artisans 
who discovered that the hide could be used to smooth hard wood to 
a high polish. In the age of sail, mariners caught sharks, skinned them 
and dried the skins to use for holystoning the wooden decks. Pieces of 
sharkskin were wrapped around oars to cut down wear on the wood in 
the oarlock. Eventually, sharkskin came to be called shagreen, a word 
apparently derived from the Persian saghari and Turkish sagri, words 
which, oddly enough, have nothing to do with sharks. 

Saghari or sagri is the tough skin of the rump of a horse, which was 
made granular by imbedding hard seeds into the softened skin, then 
drying it. The seeds fell out, leaving permanent indentations in the skin. 
Sharkskin, with its pattern of denticles, resembled saghari or sagri, 
though in sharkskin the denticles were permanent fixtures. 

The Persian saghari, with its rough, granular surface, was found to 
be ideal for sword hilts, for it gave swordsmen a good purchase on 
their weapons. The Japanese are believed to have been the first to use 
sharkskin and ray skin for this same purpose. The favorite sword hilt 
of the Japanese came from what they call the Pearl ray, the same ray 
(Dasyatis sephen) that provides the Sumatrans with their tambourines. 

The Pearl ray produced a beautiful sword hilt, for the Japanese 
used the skin from the center of the ray's upper side, which bears three 
large, distinctive denticles that give the appearance of a row of inlaid 
pearls. The sword hilt had a grimmer utilitarian purpose, too— even when 
blood-smeared, the rough-textured skin provided a dependable grip. 

Some other Japanese uses of shark products include Shark-amino, 
an "elixir of life" made from shark cartilage; a gelatinous glue made 
from cartilage or skin too "stale" to be tanned as leather; shark-liver 
oil; and, from the shark's pancreas, the drugs insulin and pancreatin, an 
extract used as a digestive aid. Although shark leather was made during 
World War II in Japan, its quahty was not good, and hardly any shark 
tanning is being done commercially today. However, Professor Wataru 
Shimizu of Kyoto University says that the skin of the Aiza?ne (Centro- 
phonis atromarginatus) , a member of the family Squalidae, is still used 
on sword hilts "to prevent them from becoming slippery." 

Shark Treasures 


The skin of the Cowtail ray ( Dasyatis sephen ) is used for making drums and tam- 
bourines in Sumatra, and for making sword hilts in Japan, where it is called the Pearl 
ray because of the pearl-like dermal denticles in the middle of its back. When used 
for decorative purposes, the denticles are highly polished and left in the hide. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

In the seventeenth century, when shagreen-covered objects, such as 
jewel cases, were brought out of the Orient by travelers, word of the 
beautiful, durable leather spread all over Europe, and shagreen artisans 
began an art which has been almost forgotten today. By the eighteenth 
century, the art had become so developed that a guild of segrnywerkers 
(shagreen workers) sprang up in Holland, and in France a skilled pair 
of shagreen artists won lingual immortality. This rare honor— for France 
guards her language with a fierce pride— was bestowed upon Jean-Claude 
Galluchat and his son Denis-Claude. Their exquisite shagreen was called 
gahichat, a term still used in France for polished shark and ray skin. 

Ink stands, portrait frames, cases for silverware, spectacles, and 
watches were made of galuchat. Fine editions of books were bound with 

196 Man and Shark 

shagreen, and instruments, such as microscopes and telescopes, were cov- 
ered with it. In the nineteenth century and in the early years of this 
century when pince-nez were popular, shagreen was used to hold them 
in place on the nose— often with disfiguring results. 

Possibly because they simply cannot believe that a shark or ray 
could yield such an exquisite leather, or because they are not aware of 
what they are handling, antique dealers today often describe shagreen- 
covered objects as being covered with snake, lizard, or seal skin. 

Shagreen— shark or ray skin with the denticles still in it— is a leather 
of lasting beauty. The denticles are usually polished down by hand to 
remove the sharp points or, in the case of some species and the uses 
to which they are put, the denticles are ground down on carborundum 
wheels. But shagreen is still not an all-purpose, practical leather. It has 
limited use, mostly as a decorative covering. One use was a "pickpocket- 
proof" wallet, one side of which was covered with shagreen. The den- 
ticles prevented its removal by acting as so many tiny thorns that 
snagged against the pocket. It could be removed only by slipping the 
hand between the wallet and the pocket. 

The removal of the denticles without injuring the natural grain of 
the sharkskin remained a problem for many years. The denticle roots 
beneath the surface are firmly imbedded in the epidermis of the skin. 
The use of potent chemicals either failed to dissolve the roots, or, if too 
strong a solution was used, the grain of the skin was destroyed in the 
process. Imperfect removal of the denticles produced a leather so weak 
or so hard and brittle that it was virtually unmarketable. A way had to 
be found to gently "Uft" the denticles out of the epidermis, leaving a 
leather with the beautiful markings of the natural grain; flexible, yet 
still tough and strong. 

Shortly after World War I, the Ocean Leather Corporation engaged 
an American industrial chemist, Theodore H. Kohler, and assigned to 
him the seemingly impossible task of removing the denticles by a satis- 
factory commercial process. Kohler, working with a consulting leather 
chemist. Dr. Allen Rogers of Pratt Institute, spent many long hours 
on this assignment, making many tests and experiments— and failing. 
Finally, after a few years and endless expenditures, they developed a 
chemical process that could be used on a commercial scale to remove 
them and, at the same time, meet all of the requirements for excellent 
leather. This process was promptly patented in the name of Kohler. 

This was the breakthrough. Leather from the sea— sharkskin leather 
—could now be marketed for use in practically all .articles for which 
there is no substitute for leather. It could be— and was— promoted as 
a rival of the long-established exotic leathers. Thereafter, the Ocean 
Leather Corporation launched a new industry that is still unique. 

Shark Treasures 


Samples of shark leather show how it can be dyed in various colors. Black, brown, tan 
and natural ( smallest sample ) are shown here. Courtesy, Ocean Leather Co. 

Jealously guarding the denticle-removal process through the years, 
Ocean Leather has remained virtually unchallenged by competitors. It 
is the only shark-leather tannery in the United States that has consist- 
ently produced excellent quality shark leather, and, except for a few 
foreign firms not considered serious rivals, it is the only large-scale 
sharkskin tannery in the world. Attempts have been made by other 
tanneries to produce a durable leather from the hides of sharks. The 
results have always been disappointing, although some success has been 
reported in Europe, Mexico, and Japan. 

For decades now, hundreds of thousands of shark hides have been 
arriving at the tannery in Newark, New Jersey, and shark leather has 
been emerging, to be transformed into luxury articles— men's shoes, 
belts, wallets, watch straps, and other fine leather goods. It is an ideal 
leather for cowboy boots, ski boots, shoes, and practically anything else 
that can be made from leather. Many years ago sharkskin leather was 
found to be ideal for the highly vulnerable tips of children's shoes. The 
laces will inevitably break; the counters will collapse; the soles and heels 
will wear out with appalling speed. But the shark tips will not even 

198 Man and Shark 

scuff. A small boy's destructive energy, tameless as it may be, is simply 
no match for the impregnable hide of the shark! 

A cross-weave of strong fibers runs through the thick epidermis of 
sharkskin, forming a sinewy network that resists great strain, yet re- 
mains pliable. Tests have shown that shark leather has a tensile strength 
of about 7,000 pounds per square inch. Cowhide's tensile strength is 
about 5,000 pounds per square inch. 

Sharks are hauled in principally from the waters off the coasts of 
Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the west coast of 
Mexico. The supply is subject to sudden curtailment by hurricanes and 
revolution (pre-Castro Cuba was a key shark hide source). The whims 
of both sharks and fishermen also continually affect the irregular flow 
of hides to the tannery. But, somehow, hides usually come in every 
month of the year, and every hide represents the personal triumph of 
a man over a shark. 

Individual fishermen hauling in handlines still supply Ocean Leather 
with many of the nearly 50,000 shark hides it receives each year. But 
most of the sharks are being caught nowadays by special shark-fishing 
boats operating out of Florida and other well-established shark-fishing 
stations. The sharks are caught on mile-long lines strung every 25 feet 
with 2%-inch hooks. About 300 hooks dangle on 7-foot leaders from 
each line. The lines are set in from 20 to 200 fathoms. 

The hides arrive at Ocean Leather's odoriferous tannery in neatly 
folded piles in burlap wraps and bundles about as beautiful as bundles 
of old grocery bags. After a complicated tanning process that takes about 
4 weeks and involves seemingly endless baths and batterings in great 
vats and tumbling drums, the hides become a luxury leather whose 
beauty and durability have engendered a demand that has never been 
matched by the supply. And it is this simple economic fact that explains 
why all-sharkskin shoes cost about $40 a pair. Texas oil millionaires 
once commandeered most sharkskin shoes. Lately, however, with the 
spread of the affluent society beyond the boundaries of Texas, that fief 
has lost its near-monopoly on shark leather. 

Shark-hide tanneries have existed in many parts of the world for 
centuries— possibly the first recorded instances are from China and 
Japan. In recent times, there have been tanneries in Norway, Germany, 
France, Italy, India, Australia, Cuba, Mexico, and elsewhere. So far as 
is known, however, none of them enjoyed any great success. 

Tiger, Dusky, Brown, Sand, Blacktip, Mackerel, and Nurse sharks 
are the most desirable species for leather. Each species has its own 
peculiarities. The Nurse, for instance, yields a hide that produces a very 
desirable leather, but its fins are no good for shark fin soup and its liver 
oil is low in vitamin A potency. The Hammerhead's hide and fins are not 
very desirable, but Hammerhead liver oil is usually rich in vitamin A. 

Shark Treasures 199 

Ocean Leather Corporation experts have tried to tan samples of the 
colossal hide of the Basking shark and the huge hide of the Giant Devil 
rav, but their attempts have so far been unsuccessful. 

The insatiable demand for sharkskin has inspired few fishermen 
to give up their regular fishing and concentrate on sharks alone, for 
sharking is usually a very undependable way to make a living. Though 
there is a practically unlimited supply of sharks in the sea, catching them, 
skinning them, and preparing them for shipment is work that is always 
hard and frequently frustrating. 

An expert at one of the world's rarest professions— shark-skinning— 
can separate a shark from its hide in about 15 minutes. It's a job that 
tires the strongest man and dulls the sharpest knife. (One advantage of 
the shark's sandpaper-like hide, though, is that the knife can be honed 
on it! ) 

After a shark has been flayed, the hide is fleshed and then cured 
in salt for four or five days. The hides must be protected from the 
sun and the rain, for, at this stage, they are relatively perishable and 
can be spoiled by dampness or burned by the sun. After the curing, 
the hides are packed in bundles or barrels and sent to the tannery. 

Fishermen are paid on the basis of the hide's size and condition and 
the species of shark. In skinning the shark, the tail, part of the head, 
and the area around the gill slits are lopped off, so the over-all length 
of the shark's body is not what the fisherman is paid for. His payment 
is based on the length of the hide. The basic price for a first-grade hide 
runs from |1 for a hide 35 to 39 inches long to $9 for a first-grade hide 
110 inches or more long. There is a premium on Tiger shark hides. 
The Tiger commands a price of from $2 for the smallest size to as 
much as $14 for the large sizes. 

For a hide to be first grade, it must have no sour spots (caused by 
rotting of the hide); no butcher cuts (caused by sUps of the skinner's 
knife); no harpoon holes— and no fighting scars, so called because they 
are believed to be the result of encounters with other pugnacious sharks. 
(Some shark experts believe, however, that since the scars are so fre- 
quently found on adult females, they result from encounters with over- 
amorous males.) Second- and third-grade hides are relatively lower in 

Enterprising fishermen can also make money on such odd but mar- 
ketable shark products as canes and "petrified pups." The canes are made 
by stringing shark vertebrae along metal rods; they sell for as much 
as $20. A "petrified pup" is made by preserving fully formed shark 
embryos in formaldehyde. The mummified result is a shark model, 
suitable for display on a mantelpiece. (A similar embalming process has 
been used— so help us— to make earrings out of shark eyeballs! ) 

The denticles are not removed from the hide of certain small sharks. 

200 Man and Shark 

Instead, the diamond-shaped ones are polished to a dazzHng gloss. Though 
difRcult to stitch because of its armor, this hide— called boroso—h2iS 
been made into such fashion accessories as evening slippers. It may be 
the world's most expensive leather since it sells for $1 a square inch. 

The denticles are also left in an industrial type of sharkskin, whose 
abrasive qualities are put to such unusual tasks as the fluffing of nap 
in the felt used to make men's hats. In Italy it is used for polishing 
marble. Another type of industrial sharkskin is used in looms, where a 
flexible yet indestructible material is needed for the straps that control 
the darting shuttle. 

Modern science has resurrected the shark as the bearer of a strange 
chemical which the ancients once beheved was a potent potion. The 
drug is called squalene (the name comes from the Latin word for shark, 
squalus), an organic chemical that is today still only an oddity in the 
medical researcher's laboratory. 

Several years ago, a chemical company bought a large supply of 
squalene distilled from the liver oil of the Basking shark. The firm made 
the purchase mostly out of scientific curiosity since the shark-originated 
chemical intrigued some researchers, who began tinkering with it. 

One of the tinkerers was Dr. John H. Heller, director of the New 
England Institute for Medical Research and one of the nation's out- 
standing research scientists in organic chemistry. Convinced that squal- 
ene would be a valuable research tool in the study of heart disease, 
Heller wanted to use "marked" squalene as a tracer in observing 
chemical activity in animals. The tracer Heller used was radioactivity. 
He proposed injecting radioactive material directly into live sharks to 
obtain his squalene tracer, since squalene was elusive and was produced 
in relatively minute amounts in every other known creature except the 

With the help of Dr. Eugenie Clark, the marine biologist, Heller 
caught and injected sharks, often getting into the water with them. 
Though the sharks were snared, with hooks and lines, there was always 
danger. The hazardous experiments proved to be a failure. But some 
researchers are still tinkering with squalene, in the hope that radioactive- 
tagged squalene may some day be used as a research tool in the study of 
both heart disease and cancer. 

Squalene from shark liver oil once was profitably put to work— but 
by crooks, not scientists. They put out an alleged vegetable oil for cook- 
ing and on the label they stated, "20 per cent olive oil." But experts 
who snifi^ed and sampled this oil said it was obviously not a blend of 
olive oil and another vegetable oil, as claimed. Further, these experts- 
legitimate olive oil merchants— strongly suspected that the olive oil 
racketeers were back in business again. It was not too long after the 
end of World War II when olive oil from Europe was still scarce. 

Shark Treasures 201 

Samples of the suspected olive oil blend were turned over to a Food 
and Drug Administration laboratory. The FDA, long the nemesis of 
the olive oil racketeers, had developed an irrefutable test to prove the 
percentage of olive oil in a blend. The test had been devised by Dr. 
Jacob Fitelson, chief food chemist of the FDA's New York laboratories. 
Fitelson's test was based on his knowledge of squalene, that odd organic 
chemical found in shark liver oil. Squalene is also found in animal 
and vegetable oils— especially olive oil. Fitelson determined that there 
was more squalene in olive oil than in any other oil with which it was 
blended.* So, by testing for the squalene present, the actual olive oil 
content could be discovered. The test had exposed several frauds and had 
been upheld in court, where convictions had been obtained. 

Yet, when the olive oil blends that did not taste or smell of olive 
oil were now brought into the FDA labs, the scientists were startled to 
find that the blends were passing the test. "Exactly as labeled, a blend 
of 20 per cent olive oil," said a chemist's report. The report added pri- 
vately: "That's what the analysis shows, but we can't believe it." 

FDA chemists, swamped by complaints from legitimate dealers, were 
baffled. Then Fitelson, while talking to a former colleague at a scientific 
convention, picked up a clue. The ex-FDA chemist told Fitelson that 
the chemical and drug firm he worked for was extracting vitamins 
from shark liver oil. A by-product-squalene-had been considered 
worthless. Suddenly, however, a demand had started for squalene. That 
was it! Fitelson surmised that the racketeers, taking advantage of the 
squalene test, were simply mixing the squalene with cheap vegetable 
oils. By adding the precise amount of shark-originated squalene into the 
blend, the oil would test out as if it contained 20 per cent olive oil. 
The fact that the squalene came from a shark and not an olive made 
no difference; it appeared to be the same under the Fitelson test. 

Fitelson realized that the only way he could prove his theory was 
to mark the squalene in some way before it found its way into the 
blend, and then seek the marked squalene again in labeled products on 
the market. The marker Fitelson needed was a chemical that was harm- 
less, stable, and soluble in squalene, and not obviously detectable to 
anyone who looked at, smelled or tasted the oil. Also, it had to be able 
to show up in dilutions of one part to ten million parts of oil. The chemi- 
cal used was anthranilic acid, a white crystalline powder used industrially 
as a starting point for the manufacture of dyes. The squalene supplier 
allowed the FDA to put this marker in his product. Then the FDA 
just waited. 

Shortly after the next large purchase of the marked squalene, hun- 

* The average squalene content of olive oil was about 330 mg./lOO Gm. of oil, 
while the average squalene content of other edible vegetable oils varied from 11 for 
soya bean oil to 28 for peanut oil. 

202 Man and Shark 

dreds of samples of blended oil under different brand names were picked 
up throughout the Middle Atlantic states. They were all tested, and 
many sample showed the marked squalene. The FDA spread out farther 
. . . from the dealers to the packers ... to the shadowy leaders of the 
racket ... to an olive oil dealer who refused to talk because, he told 
an agent, "If I talk, I'll get splattered all over the street." 

It was a big and vicious racket. Using powerful persuasive techniques, 
the racketeers terrorized many packers and dealers. G. S. Goldhammer, 
director of the FDA's Division of Regulatory Management, Bureau of 
Enforcement, estimates that the racketeers had perpetrated a nearly 
$1,000,000 fraud before the racket was smashed. And a top-level racke- 
teer had been caught in the shark-baited trap. He was Joseph Profaci, 
reputedly "untouchable" crime boss. He rarely appeared in public, let 
alone in a courtroom. But the FDA brought him in. He pleaded guilty 
and was fined $8,000. When Profaci died of cancer in 1962, U.S. At- 
torney General Robert F. Kennedy assessed the FDA's catch. Profaci, 
the Attorney General said, had been "the most powerful" figure in the 
U.S. underworld. 

Part 4 
^^W Shark and Company 

chapter 9 

Whence the 

Eons before man or his works appeared 
on earth, the shark was the monarch of 
the primordial seas. Our greatest mountains— the Andes, the Alps, the 
Rockies, the Himalayas— thrust upward from the earth some 60 mil- 
lion years ago. Man, as Homo sapiens, is believed to have appeared 
barely a million years ago. While the evolutionary forces of life spawned 
countless forms that lived briefly in the crucible of the awakening earth 
and then expired forever, sharks have lived on. As prehistoric era after 
era passed— as amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals came forth— 
the shark remained. The pterodactyls, flying reptiles which coursed 
the skies during countless millennia, disappeared. The dinosaurs— Bro??- 
tosaurus, Allosaunis, Triceratops, and a thousand more— stalked the 
earth in ponderous supremacy and vanished into extinction. But, the 
shark lived on. 

In the vast spectrum of life, each creature finds its place, from the 
humble protozoan to the reigning vertebrate. The spectrum begins with 
a faint glimmer out of the void— a small packet of protein. Almost im- 
perceptibly, the spark of life flickers next in the ultrafiltrable virus, the 
bacterium, the protozoan, then the multiple-celled sponges, jellyfishes 
and corals. Then, more strongly, in the starfish and the worm. Now, its 
glow brightening, it passes through the snail, the clam, and the squid. 
Next the light bathes the spider, the scorpion, the lobster, and the insect. 
Finally, in a burst of brilliance, the spectrum ends with the vertebrates 
—fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. And there, among all 
these species of the modern animal kingdom, are two creatures. One, 
man, newly arrived; the other, the shark, which has passed through some 
500 million years of existence, but still persists, and in some cases with 
but very little change. 

In the Devonian Period, which spanned the time between 320 and 
265 million years ago, millipedes, mites, spiders, and wingless insects ap- 
peared on an earth turning green with the first land plants. In the times 
that preceded the Devonian Period, fish dwelt only in inland waters. 
Some barely resembled modern fish, for they were jawless and heavily 


206 Shark and Company 

armored. Others had jaws, and among these jawed fish appeared a new 
breed. These had developed "lungs" and paired fins strong enough to 
perform a function that changed forever the course of life. For, in times 
of drought, when tidal rivers or estuaries dried up, some of these 
fish were able to crawl, and so move to new and undried ponds, or 
else bury themselves in the mud— and breathe air. From them came 
the primitive amphibians with their tenuous grasp on the land. 

The Age of Fishes apparently dawned in the sea, but it is at the 
beginning of the Devonian Period that the first records of shark-like 
creatures appear. These ancestors of the shark were already highly 
developed, and their progenitors had doubtless been spawned in the 
previous Silurian Period, for some Silurian rocks contain faint evidence 
of shark-like fishes. Since fossils provide the only tangible clues to 
prehistoric life, the shark's origin is a matter of some speculation. But 
fossils themselves are but perplexing pieces of a gigantic puzzle that 
seems destined to remain forever unsolved in its entirety. Sir Arthur 
Smith Woodward, an outstanding authority on fossils, wrote in 1898 
of the difficulties in gleaning knowledge from fossils. There have been 
great paleontological discoveries since he made his observations, but 
what he said is still true: 

We may, in fact, without exaggeration declare that every item of knowl- 
edge we possess concerning extinct plants and animals depends upon a chapter 
of accidents. First, the organism must find its way into water where sediment 
is being deposited and there escape all the dangers of being eaten: or it must 
be accidentally entombed in blown sand or a volcanic accumulation on land. 
. . . Lastly, man must accidentally excavate at the precise spot where entomb- 
ment took place, and someone must be at hand capable of appreciating the 
fossil, and preserving it for smdy when discovered. 

The oldest fossil records of sharks were found in what are known 
to paleontologists as the American Middle Devonian beds— limestone 
deposits in Ohio, rich in marine fossils. The beds gave up a few specimens 
of the type of tooth known as Cladodus. These primitive teeth, amazingly 
similar to the teeth found in some species of modern sharks, are out- 
standing for their dagger-Uke points. Another American fossil-hunting 
ground, the Cleveland Shales, has given posterity one of the most valu- 
able records of a prehistoric shark. These late Devonian fossils show, in 
delicate traceries, not only the bodily outline of a shark, Cladoselache, 
but also the imprints of its muscles— and even its kidneys. From these 
dim outlines, more than 265 million years old, paleontologists have been 
able to reconstruct a shark from 1^/2 to 4 feet long. The Cladoselache 
and another primitive shark with similar characteristics, the Ctenacan- 
thus, are believed to be close to the source of the shark's earUest an- 

Whence the Shadows? 


In this restoration of life in a Devonian Period shallow sea, a prehistoric shark 
(Cladoselache) swims toward a large coiled cephalopod crawling about amid several 
types of primitive sponges growing on the sea floor. The form of the modem shark 
can easily be seen in this ancestor of eons ago. (This Devonian sea model was prepared 
by George Marchand, under the direction of Irving G. Reimann. ) 

Courtesy, Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences 

From more indistinct clues than the Cladoselache skeleton scientists 
have reconstructed prehistoric sharks of astounding size. In Devonian 
deposits and in strata of the next geologic period (the Carboniferous of 
210 to 265 million years ago), fossil spines called ichthyodorulites have 
been unearthed. These are dart-like quills found in the dorsal fins of various 
fishes. These quills are similar to the strong, sharp quills found in some 
present-day sharks, such as the Spiny dogfish {Squalus acanthias), one 
of the most prolific species of shark in today's seas. The modern Spiny 
dogfish is a small shark; it is no longer than 4 feet, and its spines, or 
fin-quills, are usually only 1 or 2 inches long. Some fossil spines, how- 
ever, are 3 feet long, and may even have carried venom. 

Shark skeletons, for the most part, have vanished from the geologic 
record because their skeletons contain no true bone. Shark skeletons 
were— and are— cartilaginous, and usually the relatively soft cartilage 
is obliterated due to its being soluble. The fascinating ichthyodorulites, 
made of tougher dentine, often survive, however, as the only remains 
of some gigantic shark-like creatures. 

The Cladoselache disappeared during the Permian Period, from 185 to 
210 million years ago, leaving the continuance of the evolutionary drama 
to the Hybodonts, from which can be drawn almost direct lines to the 

Shark and Company 

Successive types of prehistoric Elasmobranch fishes are shown in this series. ( A ) Clad- 
oselache, of the Devonian Period, with fins supported by simple parallel rods of 
cartilage and the paired fins serving merely as balancers. (B) Fleur acanthus, typical 
of the Permo-Carboniferous, with paired fins used as paddles. (C) Hybodus, of the 
Jurassic, with paired fins for swimming, a persistent notochord and simple vertebral 
arches. (D) Chlamydoselache, which exemphfies the Cretaceous and Tertiary types, 
but which is still in existence today as the Frilled shark. 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

Whence the Shadows? 


Fossil remains of this Selachian ancestor, Vleur acanthus, have been found in the 
Carboniferous and Permian Period rocks of North America, Australia, and Europe. 
It ranged in size from 18 inches to 6 feet or more. Note its claspers, which show that 
it was more shark-like than teleostean. Its teeth are shark-like, but the fossils do not 
indicate the presence of dermal denticles. After Hussakof 

modern shark. The typical Hybodont had the basic appearance of a 
modern shark and a remarkable arrangement of teeth— sharp ones in 
the front for seizing prey, and flat ones in the back of the jaw for crush- 
ing the shells of mollusks. Thus, they could alternate between two kinds 
of diet— fast-swimming fish and sedentary bottom-dwellers. This abil- 
ity to vary feeding habits in the event of a shortage of one kind of 
food undoubtedly aided the Hybodonts' survival. For, by the Triassic 
Period (155 to 185 million years ago), the Hybodonts apparently were 
the only cartilaginous fish in the sea. 

At this pivotal era in the dynasty of the shark, the hardy little 
Hybodonts were relatively rare. They struggled in the primitive seas 
against the hard-skeletoned ancestors of the bony fishes of today. Their 
principal enemies— or at least competitors— were probably carnivorous, 
fish-shaped reptiles, some almost 30 feet long, which roamed the open 
seas using sharp teeth on the same prey the Hybodonts sought. These 
marine reptiles were abundant, but the shark line did not die out. 

The Hybodonts eventually gave way to new shark forms, but at 
least one of their descendants still thrives today, little changed from 
Triassic times. This is the Port Jackson shark {Meter odontus portiis- 
jacksoni), which still retains the dual-denture system of the Hybodonts. 
With its blunt, bull-like head and sway-backed body, this usually small 
Australian shark somehow looks as if it belonged to the past. 

The Hybodonts of the Triassic Period were the harbingers of the 
modern sharks, which evolved in the next geologic period, the Jurassic. 
The spectacular flying pterosaurs and the great dinosaurs were spawned 
in the Jurassic, but they were forms ultimately abandoned by nature 
because they failed to adjust to changing conditions. The shark, a tried 
and tested form, had apparently already reached a stage of nearly perfect 

210 Shark and Compaiiy 

adaptation. During the Jurassic, the sharks began to flourish, forming 
many families, including variants we now call the skates and rays. And, 
by the close of the Miocene Period (26 to 12 milHon years ago), sharks 
were among the most abundant creatures in the sea. Every now extant 
family of shark was there, from the ancestor of the common dogfish to 
the colossal forebears of the modern Great White shark. 

Relics of these ancient sharks still exist. They lie in the ooze of 
seabeds and they are buried in the bottoms of ancient seas where, today, 
man grows crops and builds his cities. Hundreds of shark teeth have 
been found on the plains of central Kansas; in Wyoming, Idaho, New 
Mexico; in New Jersey, South Carolina, New York, and Maryland. In 
Alabama cotton fields, shark teeth have been unearthed amid the fossil- 
ized bones of the Zeuglodon, a prehistoric whale which grew to 70 feet 
and may have been a prey of sharks. 

In the soil of a farm in Parke County, Indiana, is a tableau, formed 
of fossils, that tells a tale of the primeval epoch when Indiana was awash 
with sea. The story, pieced together by paleontologists of the Chicago 
Natural History Museum, began when an uncommonly high tide ap- 
parently carried several large sharks across a sand bar and into a shallow 
sahne basin. When the water receded, the sharks were trapped. They 
were too large to get over the bar. Smaller fish could enter and leave 
the basin at will, and these became the sharks' prey. 

But the sharks were not all of the same species. At least one was 
large and voracious, with rapacious teeth and a jaw I6V2 inches long. 
So long as fish were plentiful, the big shark apparently was content 
to let its smaller brethren, with their crushing, pavement-like teeth, 
munch on crustaceans and mollusks. The day came, however, when the 
big shark hunted down the smaller ones. It ate them, sometimes so 
gluttonously that it merely bit off a mouthful and let the rest of its vic- 
tim sink to the bottom, uneaten. 

The whole story is there to see in a fossil lode rich in detached skulls 
and tail fins. Ordinarily, scavengers or bacteria would soon have con- 
sumed these tidbits, and the evidence that tells the tale of the trapped 
sharks would have been erased from the fossil record. But, luckily for 
paleontologists, there were no scavengers. Mud, perhaps hurled by 
some convulsion of the earth, shrouded anything that fell to the bot- 
tom, protecting it for millions of years from bacterial destruction. 

Another drama that lay unseen for millions of years was unveiled in 
1853 when a geologist with the Pacific Railroad Survey found several 
shark teeth on a parched California hill more than a hundred miles from 
the sea. Since that day, thousands of shark teeth have been found in that 
hill and the cluster of hills around it. The area, about 7 miles northeast 
of Bakersfield, California, is called Sharktooth Hill. 

Whence the Shadows? 211 

Some 20 million years ago, a sea-the Temblor, paleontologists call 
it— covered the area. Around what is now Sharktooth Hill the sea was 
no more than 200 feet deep, and the thousands of fossils found there 
today show that it teemed with marine life. There were whales, por- 
poises, dolphins, sea cows, seals, and sea Uons. Aloft and on the surface, 
where they were frequently snatched by predators, were seabirds not 
unlike today's gannets, petrels, albatrosses, and geese. And prowling 
about this rich hunting ground were giant sting rays weighing several 
hundred pounds, and 25 or more species of sharks— including one 
monstrous species as long as 120 feet or more. 

The length of this fantastic shark has been determined by its enor- 
mous teeth. Some of the teeth found at Sharktooth Hill weigh 12 ounces 
and are nearly 6 inches long; 3-inch and 4-inch teeth are common. They 
are triangularly shaped, similar in shape to those found in today's Great 
White sharks, which can exceed 30 feet but whose teeth are about an 
inch and a half long at that size. 

Large, triangular fossil shark teeth like those from Sharktooth Hill 
have been found in many geologic sites and in several present-day 
coastal areas, such as Staten Island, New York; Venice, Florida; the 
Calvert Cliffs on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, and also in the 
West Indies and New Zealand. 

The teeth belonged to an ancestor of the Great White, the Carchar- 
odon, which abounded in Miocene seas. When fossil shark teeth were 
first found and reported by naturalists in the seventeenth century, they 
were classified as fossil birds' tongues or vipers' teeth. It was incon- 
ceivable that they could have come from a shark, so non-existent beasts 
were conjured up to fit the fossils. 

Even today, the immensity of the Carcharodon strains the imagina- 
tion. The American Museum of Natural History has built a model of 
the jaws of this monstrous shark, basing the size on actual teeth that 
have been found. The jaws, large enough for a man to stand in with 
arms outspread, would fit a shark at least 80 feet long. And this was 
a medium-sized member of the species! Its teeth were not up to the 
prodigious size of the biggest found at Sharktooth Hill, whose Carcharo- 
do?i was a giant among giants. 

The Carcharodon is the largest fish of which man has yet found 
evidence and, though it is apparently extinct, it seems not to be very 
extinct. Early in this century, 4-inch Carcharodon teeth were dredged 
from the bed of the Pacific Ocean. They seemed to be "fresh," rather 
than fossilized. The fact that they were dredged up indicated that they 
had been deposited recently. Older teeth would probably have been 
covered by so much silt that the dredging gear of those days could not 
have snagged them. 

212 Shark and Company 

The gigantic jaws of the prehistoric shark ( Carcharodon ) , reconstructed from its fossil 
teeth, easily accommodate 6 men. The model, in the American Museum of Natural 

History, would fit a shark about 80 feet long. Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

Supposedly extinct sharks do still emerge from time to time. At the 
end of the nineteenth century, an unknown shark was caught off the 
coast of Japan. It was about 4 feet long, had a long snout shaped like 
a paper-knife, and a snaggle-toothed jaw. The shark was a complete 
mystery— except for its teeth, which were sharp, with thorn-like cusps. 
Distinctive teeth like these had been found in fossil beds in Europe, 

Whence the Shadows? 213 

North and South America, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand. The shark 
that bore these teeth had been assumed to be extinct for about 100 
million years. Yet, there it was. 

It was given the name of its fossil ancestor: Scapanorhynchus. But 
the shark's appearance— its strange teeth and forbidding mien— sug- 
gested the childhood horror of the goblin, and Goblin shark became 
its common name. By the way, the Goblin shark lived up to its name 
not long ago. A break occurred in a telegraph cable lying on the bottom 
of the Indian Ocean at 750 fathoms. When the cable was hauled to 
the surface, workmen discovered it had been damaged by a fish that left 
a distinctive tooth imbedded in it. The work of a GobUn! 

Other sharks that are living fossils swim today's seas. These sharks, 
virtually unchanged from the Jurassic Period to the Atomic Age, in- 
clude members of the Hexanchidae family, whose most distinguishing 
characteristics are their 6 or 7 gill slits. (All other "modern" sharks have 
5, save for Pliotrema, one of the Sawsharks.) 

Whether still alive in a modern ocean or locked forever with the 
other fossils in a forgotten prehistoric sea, the shark is a creature of 
marvelous consistency, a triumph of adaptation to the harsh demands 
of life on this planet Earth. Millennia upon millennia ago, the shark 
mastered its environment. Millions upon millions of years before the 
first precursor of man appeared, the shark began a dynasty that has re- 
mained unbroken. 

The Modern Shark 

Shark is a word whose very letters are rooted in fear— the fear of 
a jaw filled with biting, slashing teeth. The fish we know today as the 
shark was first known in English as the tiburon, the Spanish word for 
shark. In 1569, back from a freebooting expedition against the Spanish, 
sailors of Sir John Hawkins' fleet put a tiburon on exhibit in London. 
But Spain and Spanish words were not popular in England then, and 
perhaps for this reason the great fish was given a new name— shark. 

The word may derive from several sources, for its origin is as hazy 
as the origin of the ancient shark family itself. All the possible roots 
point toward attributes of the shark— Schiirke, the German word for 
villain; the Anglo-Saxon word seer an, which means "to shear or cut." 
Shark appears to have been applied to human varlets as early as to 
murderous fish; a petty thief or swindler was called a "shark" as far 
back as Elizabethan times. And today we have loan, pool, card, and 
business sharks. Shark is a fine word. Its very sound is sharp. Perhaps 
no other cry can command such immediate attention. It has that harsh 
and piercing note of emergency appropriate to so many of the species. 

Shark and Company 


This fossilized shark tooth {Car char odon) is nearly 6 inches tall. It was unearthed by 
Mrs. E. L. Anderson at Sharktooth Hill, near Bakersfield, California. Except for its 
colossal size, it is similar to teeth found today in the Great White shark ( Carcharodon 

carcharias) . Courtesy, Mrs. E. L. Anderson 

Whe?ice the Shadows? 215 

In classifying the many forms of animal life with which he shares the 
earth, man has sought names of permanence and international meaning, 
and has turned to the changeless words of Latin and Greek. He has 
sought, too, some kind of order in his classification, so he founded two 
major kingdoms— that of plants and that of animals/ The animal king- 
dom is divided into great Phyla, or tribes, and, to those who first ex- 
plore it, this kingdom is a jungle full of familiar creatures with unfamiliar 
names. The dog becomes Canis familiarise the crow becomes Corvus 
brachyrhy?2chus; the bullfrog becomes Rana catesbiana. Each species of 
shark gets a similar double name— the Great White becomes Carcharodon 
car char ias; the Common Hammerhead, Sphyrna zygaena. 

The first italicized name connotes the genus— a group of species 
having some fundamental characters in common. The second italicized 
name is that of the species itself. An animal's scientific name often is 
based on some obvious physical feature. Carcharodon comes from two 
Greek words meaning "rough" and "teeth." Sphyrna is derived from 
the Greek word for "hammer," and zygaena, an ancient word for the 
Hammerhead, is Greek for "yoke." 

The common names of sharks are handy to use but, when a species 
of shark is introduced or when the common name might cause confusion, 
the shark's formal scientific name is used. 

Man and shark share the same phylum— the Ch or data— which en- 
compasses all vertebrates: fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mam- 
mals. Below this level, we all go our own way, including the classifiers 
who, in attempting to chart man's way through the animal kingdom, 
have often got lost themselves! Sometimes the sharks are put in a Sub- 
Class called the Eiiselachii or Flagiostorm; sometimes they are called the 
Elasmobranchii and upgraded to a Class. It still depends on which book 
you use. 

Here is a guide to finding the shark in the animal kingdom: 

Phylum: Chordata 

Class: Chondrichthyes (having cartilage instead of bone) 
Sub-Class: Elasmobranchii 
Orders: Selachii 

And here is how the sharks— as Chondrichthy es— fit into the "fam- 
ily tree" of the vertebrates: 

1 Currently, three are recognized— animal, plant, and bacterio-virus. There is even 
the suggestion that animals may be but mobile "plants" derived from algae (seaweeds). 

216 Shark and Company 




CHONDRICHTHYES (Cartilaginous fishes) OSTEICHTHYES (Bony fishes) 

PLACODERMI (Archaic, jawed fishes) 

AGNATHA (Jawless fishes) 


From the Orders, one proceeds downward to the Sub-orders, the 
Families, the Genera, and finally to the Species. The Tiger shark, for 
instance, belongs to the sub-order Galeoida, the family Carcharhinidae, 
the genus Galeocerdo, and ultimately gets the specific name Galeocerdo 

Chondrichthyes include not only sharks and their own close rela- 
tives, but also the curious Chimaeroids, sometimes called Ghost sharks. 
These cousins of the sharks are believed to have evolved from a shark- 
like ancestor. Their scientific name derives from the Greek mythologi- 
cal monster Chimaera, which breathed fire, had the head of a goat, the 
body of a lion, and the tail of a dragon. The Chimaeroids are not so fear- 
some as all that, but those that are found today do look more like mythi- 

Whence the Shadows? 217 

cal than real fish. One genus (Callorhinchus), for example, has a trunk- 
like proboscis or snout, and is variously known as the Elephant shark or 
the Southern Beauty, depending on one's sense of humor. 

Elasmobranchii takes in both the Selachii, or sharks, and the Batoidei, 
or skates and rays, which are very close relatives of the sharks. The en- 
tire family, including all the species of sharks, skates, rays, and oddities 
in between, are sometimes called the Selachians, and if we accept 
Selachian as a kind of informal family name, we have one word that 
covers all of these types. 

There are about 40,000 known species of fish in the waters of the 
world. They can be roughly divided into three types: the Cyclostomes, 
eel-like creatures such as lampreys and hagfish, which have no jaws, no 
bones, and are so primitive that experts do not all agree on whether or 
not they are true fish; the Teleosts, which have bony skeletons; and 
the Selachians. 

The overwhelming majority of fishes are Teleosts. However, there 
are at least 250 species of sharks, and some authorities put the estimate 
as high as 350. New species are being reported by every important 
oceanographic investigation. There are 300 to 340 species of skates and 
rays, and undoubtedly many more remain to be discovered and classi- 
fied. Numerous as Selachian species may be, their diversity does not 
compare with that of the Teleosts. Because Teleosts are so numerically 
superior to the Selachians and, because the Teleosts have bony skele- 
tons like man's, they are sometimes called "higher fish" or "true fish." 
Some ichthyologists, in fact, prefer not to class the sharks as true fish at 
all. But the typical shark is usually rated by all other zoologists as a fish. 

No matter its classification, it is well adapted to the sea. In the fish- 
eat-fish world beneath the waves, few fish regularly feed upon the shark 
—except the shark. There are sea creatures that may challenge the shark 
—Killer whales and an occasional swordfish. Like man, however, the 
shark is normally prey only to its own kind. 

The basic difference between Teleosts and Selachians is skeletal. 
Sharks have no bones, only cartilage; the Teleosts have true bones. But 
there are several other basic diflferences, the technical details of which 
are beyond the scope of this book. However, these may be summed up 
as shown in the accompanying table (page 218). 

The digestive system of Selachians is very primitive in structure; 
the flesh contains urea which gives it a distinctive odor and causes more 
rapid decomposition than in most Teleosts. The pectoral fins in many 
species are capable of little or no swimming movement; the breathing 
organs include not only gill slits but also spiracles on the sides or top of 
the head. The bodies of most sharks are shaped much like those of some 

218 Shark and Company 

Basic Differences Between Teleosts and Selachians 

(All Bony Fish) 

(Sharks, Skates, and Rays) 


Usually large, rounded; bonelike 
in origin 

Usually have denticles; actually 
tiny teeth 


Typically, one on each side of 
head, covered by operculum 

Typically, 5 to 7 gill slits on each 
side of head, with no covering 

Air bladder. . . . 

Usually present 

Never present 

Reproduction. . 

Usually by spawning; young usu- 
ally hatched from eggs 

Always by copulation; young of 
most species born alive 


Skulls have sutures; teeth in jaw 
sockets; mouth typically at end 
of head; tail usually symmetri- 
cal, with backbone ending where 
tail begins 

No sutures in skull; teeth not firmly 
attached to jaw; mouth typi- 
cally under head; tail usually 
asymmetrical with vertebrae ex- 
tending into upper lobe of tail 

true fishes, or Teleosts; but others assume more bizarre forms, such as 
the Hammerhead. But this is only the beginning of the Selachians' di- 
versification. For, included under the dull-sounding phrase "skates and 
rays" is a strange parade of what amounts to flattened sharks. These, 
together with the marginal forms that link them to the rest of the shark 
family, are as fascinating as sharks themselves. 

Sharks come in many sizes. Ishmael, awed by the immensity of 
Moby Dick, rightfully called the whale "the mightiest animated mass 
that has survived the Flood." But the whale is a mammal, and the largest 
fish in the sea is a species of shark, the Whale shark {Rhincodon typus). 
The Whale shark's confirmed measurements are 45 feet in length and 
more than 13 tons in weight. Creditable reports have put its length at 60 
feet and more. [Blue whales (Balaenoptera mus cuius) commonly grow to 
90 feet, and have been known to reach 110 feet in length.] There are 
small sharks, too: some mature at less than 18 inches. One species, Squali- 
olus laticaudus, found at abyssal depths in the Pacific, retains a com- 
plete shark form but at full size is believed to be less than 3 inches long. 

Between the Whale shark and the tiny Squaliolus are sharks whose 
fame rests not on their size but rather on their versatility, feats, and repu- 
tation. Rightly or otherwise, this reputation is often bad, and the con- 
sensus of most seafarers, fishermen, and landsmen is that the best shark 
is a dead one. 

The notion that the shark deserves a hideous death seems to be uni- 





A 6-foot man is shown to scale with 6 of the largest sharks and the largest known ray, 
all drawn to reliably reported sizas. At left, top, is a Giant Devil ray ( breadth of 20 
feet); at right, top, is a Thresher shark (20 feet, including tail) and, below it, a 
Hammerhead (15 feet). Four large sharks, from top to bottom, are a Great White 
( 36 feet ) , Greenland ( 24 feet ) , Basking ( 40 feet ) , and Whale shark ( 45 feet ) . 

Courtesy, Scottie Allen 


220 Shark and Company 

versal among sailors. Since the age of sail, seamen have usually caught 
sharks only to curse them and butcher them, though when shipwrecked 
they have been happy enough to eat them for survival on many occasions. 
More often they have hacked the shark into pieces, or chopped off its 
tail and hurled it back into the sea to be devoured by other sharks. In 
Panama, the natives have devised a fiendish death for captured sharks: 
crucifixion. They nail the shark's pectoral fins and tail to a board and 
then launch the board, sending the shark out to death under a glaring 
sun or into the jaws of other sharks attracted by the victim's bleeding 
and writhing. 

Native divers in the Red Sea share man's common terror of the shark, 
though they show it in another way. They give friendly names to the 
sharks as a means of placating the evil spirits lurking within them. 

Doctors J. T. Nichols and R. C. Murphy, the shark experts mentioned 
in Chapter 1, witnessed one attempt to kill an almost indestructible shark. 
They reported: "We have seen one hooked, shot full of lead from a re- 
peating rifle, then harpooned, hauled on deck, and disemboweled, yet it 
continued alive and alert for a long while, thrashing its tail and opening 
and shutting its weird, expressionless eyes by moving the whitish lower 

And a "dead" shark is often very lively. One fisherman, for instance, 
had a hand bitten off by a disemboweled shark. A naval officer con- 
temptuously kicked a seemingly dead shark lying on deck; the shark's 
retaliation was immediate and massive— it tore off most of the calf of 
the officer's leg. The shark's hold on life is incredible. There is a reliable 
record of a shark that was cut open, gutted, and thrown back into the 
sea by a fisherman who then baited his hook with the shark's intestines— 
and caught the same shark again! 

The shark dies hard. Gavin Maxwell, writing in Harpoon at a Venture 
of an attempt to kill a gigantic harpooned Basking shark (Cetorhinus 
TnaxiTfTus)^ reports: 

He was ... a huge bull of unusually black coloring, and ... he was still 
moving, shuddering and undulating down his entire length, though he had been 
beached for two days ... At point-blank range I shot the shark between the 
eyes four times, so that the brain must have been completely obliterated. There 
was no visible effect; the movement of the body neither accelerated nor slowed. 
Then, to make certain that the fish was dead, we cut off the entire forepart of 
the head with axes, but this, too, produced no change. Four days later, when 
we dragged the carcass off the beach, the body, now headless and disemboweled, 
was still twitching and jerking over its whole length. 

Yet in some ways, the shark is delicate. A relatively sHght injury to 
its gills, for instance, will usually cause a shark to bleed to death. If a 
shark is hoisted out of the sea by the tail, it has little chance of survival: 

Whence the Shadows? Ill 

the head-down suspension seems to have some effect on its nervous sys- 
tem. Some experts believe that the shark's primitive nervous system 
may be damaged by fright alone, a reaction animal behaviorists think 
they have detected in some mammals. 

A sports fisherman tells of catching a shark, removing its liver for 
chum, and then tossing the shark back into the sea as so much offal. The 
shark swam away, showing no apparent ill effects. A Dogfish (Mustelus 
canis) captured in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, had a large hole through 
the wall of its body. The wound had been plugged by a lobe of the liver 
which had simply grown into the hole! 

Stories are many of sharks' struggles against death and their apparent 
insensitivity to what in other creatures would be intense pain. But a 
headless, disemboweled shark writhing on a beach is not really strug- 
gling against death. Rather, its biologically simple body is throbbing with 
reflex actions. It is death that is doing the struggling, for snuffing out 
such a vibrant, basic form of life takes a long time. 

All evidence points to the behef that pain, as we know it, does not 
exist for Selachians— or fishes in general— or at least they have a very 
high pain-threshold. In man, the sensation of pain originates in certain 
nerve receptors that transmit impulses to the higher evolved nerve cen- 
ters of the brain. Presumably, the lower a creature on the evolutionary 
scale— and Selachians are well down it— the less developed is its sense 
of pain. 

The shark's tenacity of life begins at the moment of birth, when it 
emerges from its mother or its egg-case as a miniature replica of its el- 
ders: voraciously hungry, ceaselessly moving. Day-old pups, as shark 
young are called, have been seen going for baited hooks. Two of the au- 
thors have seen captured sharks give birth to pups that skittered across 
the deck of a boat, wriggled through the scuppers or leaped over the gun- 
wale and plunged into the sea— to begin a swim that would end only 
when they died. For, though sharks can rest on the bottom, they lack 
the swim bladders that give buoyancy to the Teleosts. 

This lack of a swim bladder (or, as it is sometimes called, air bladder) 
makes it impossible for the shark to maintain an equilibrium of depth. 
Its body is more dense than the water it displaces and will sink to the 
bottom unless sustained by constant motion. The shark, then, is con- 
stantly striving to keep itself from sinking. Only bv a continual un- 
dulation of its muscular tail and, to some extent, its fins, can the shark 
overcome the gravity that inexorably pulls it downward. Unlike the 
typical Teleost fishes which lie bloated in death on the surface of the 
sea, when the shark can swim no more its body settles to the oblivion of 
the deep. 

However, at least one species, the Sand Tiger shark {Carcharias 

222 Shark and Co?npany 

tauriis), is said to have developed a kind of substitute for a swim bladder 
by swallowing air and keeping an "air pocket" in its stomach. Thus, its 
stomach is believed to act as a hydrostatic organ similar to the Teleost's 
swim bladder. 

In its lifelong swim, the shark does not sleep, at least as we humans 
know sleep. Sharks that spend their lives inshore seem to rest— or perhaps 
sleep— by swimming into shallow caverns, apparently alighting on rocky 
ledges, or seemingly resting on the bottom. Divers frequently are able 
to approach these "sleeping" sharks with ease. Sharks that spend their 
lives in the open ocean do not appear to rest, for, if they ceased moving, 
they would sink, often to abyssal depths. Of course, some sharks live 
in the great deeps permanently. The "sleep" of any shark, at any depth, 
however, is possibly only a physiological pause in its activity. 

The shark is a creature marvelously adapted to its environment. It 
achieved this harmony with the sea eons ago, and, from what we know 
of evolution, the shark's basic structure has remained virtually unchanged 
mainly because its prehistoric adaptation was so perfect, although much 
specialization has occurred among different species. 

A tough skin plated with row upon row of teeth; three great muscles 
flexing nearly the length of each side of its body; a strong, gristly, 
resilient skeleton— these form the dwelling place of what might be said 
to be the essence of the shark. In addition, there is a tiny brain and a 
nervous system perfectly attuned to the animal's activity in its environ- 

The silhouette of a typical shark is unmistakable. Unlike the mouth 
of the typical Teleost, the mouth of most sharks is curved and lies on 
the under side of its head. Its tail, or caudal, fin is almost always asym- 
metrical, with the upper lobe usually the far longer one. Its fins are 
flipper-like and differ from the Teleost's fins, which are held rigid by a 
network of rays or spines. Sharks cannot move their side fins freely to 
swim, as Teleost fishes can. A shark's fin arrangement is also distinctive. 
The pectoral fins are generally larger than those of the Teleost. The 
ventral, or pelvic, fins have, in the male, appendages called "claspers," 
which are intromittent or sexual organs. Aft of the ventral fins, between 
the vent and the tail, is the anal fin. The caudal itself sweeps upward, 
forming the two lobes, the upper of which may have a notch, whose 
purpose is not known. And jutting from the back of most sharks is the 
familiar dorsal fin that, when seen, is the warning banner of a shark's 

The skeleton of the shark is formed of cartilage, but in some species 
so much calcium is deposited in the cartilage that it is almost as rigid as 
bone. Never, however, is true bone developed. This lack of bone does 
not mean a lack of skeleton; the familiar structural framework of the 

Whence the Shadows? Ill 

fish is there, at least at first glance. But, demonstrating in still another 
way its tendency to remain basically simple, the shark has a skeleton 
that differs considerably from that of the bony fish. Without going into 
anatomical detail, it may be said that the Teleost's skull is a far more 
complex bony structure than the Selachian's cartilaginous skull. 
/ ' The skin of fish, like the skin of man and other vertebrates, consists 
of an epidermis, an outer layer of cells, which is continually wearing 
away and being replaced, and the dermis, an inner layer of more com- 
plex cells which include the pigment cells that determine color. Gen- 
erally, the skin of fish is covered with scales, and most fish scales are 
of two types: cycloid scales, found in such fish as carp and herring, and 
ctenoid scales, which have minute spine-like projections at their exposed 
edges (a black bass has ctenoid scales). Sharks have a third type of 
scales— placoid. And these scales are really dermal teeth, set in the shark's 

Of all the many oddities of the shark, this is one of the most difficult 
to grasp, perhaps because it is so uncomplicated. These scales, called 
dermal denticles, are truly teeth. Each denticle in the shark's hide has 
the two attributes of a tooth: its surface is covered by dentine, and it 
has a central pulp canal containing a nerve and blood vessels. In some 
species, these denticles are visible to the naked eye; in other species, they 
are microscopic. But, no matter the size, they are teeth. The denticles 
give the tough hides of most sharks a sandpaper-like roughness that can 
scratch or even tear a swimmer's flesh. This abrasive hide, called shagreen, 
can smooth down the hardest woods and, in fact, was once used for that 
purpose by cabinetmakers, as has been mentioned. 

Denticles are anchored in the skin of the shark much as collar but 
tons are held in a shirt. The sub-surface base of the denticle is larger 
than the opening through which the visible portion projects. The denti- 
cles project backward, which is very obvious if the skin is stroked from 
the tail toward the head. In some species, such as the Nurse shark 
(Ginglymostoma cirratum), the denticles are so large and so closely 
spaced that it is difficult to drive a harpoon into the hide. Other species 
produce scattered patches of denticles. The variety of denticle forms 
is nearly as great as the variety of shark species. Denticles are blunt, 
scalloped, spade-shaped, thorn-like, geometric, and even heart-shaped. 

By a growth process called hypertrophy, certain denticles develop 
independently of others and become comparatively gigantic structures 
with no apparent relationship to the smaller and microscopic denticles. 
The possession of denticles is one of the many characteristics shared by 
sharks, skates, rays, and the links between them. 

These other members of the Selachian family are usually so segre- 
gated from the sharks themselves in most writings about sharks that it is 

The varied denticles shown in these samples are from 7 species of sharks: (1) Tiger 
shark ( Galeocerdo cuvieri ) ; ( 2 ) Basking shark ( Cetorhinus maximus ) ; ( 3 ) Cat shark 
( Scyliorhinus boa ) ; ( 4 ) Thresher shark ( Alopias vulpinus ) ; ( 5 ) Brown shark ( Car- 
charhinus milberti); (6) Smooth dogfish {Mustelus canis); (7) Sand, or Sand Tiger, 
shark (Carcharas taurus). Note: in these and other species, the denticle pattern may 
vary throughout the shark's body, so that these denticles are not necessarily a positive 
means of identification. U.S. Bureau of Fisheries 


Whence the Shadows? 225 

easy to assume that the family connection is tenuous. This is not true. 
The Selachians are all intimately related to one another. 

How does the hypertrophy, the increased size and changed shape 
of certain denticles, show this kinship? Shagreen denticles, which are 
seized by a hypertrophic urge for nonconformity, modify in various 
ways. One such modification is the fin spine, a thorn-like quill, which 
emerges in such species of shark as the Spiny or Piked dogfish {Squalus 
acanthias) and the Port Jackson shark {Heterodontus portus-jacksoni). 
The fin spine projects in front of the dorsal fin (and is similar to the 
ichthyodorulites, the prehistoric fin spines mentioned before). Another 
modification is the saw tooth which is found in the Sawfishes {Fris- 
toidea). The Sawfish has a long, flat, narrow rostrum, or snout, which 
resembles a saw because along both edges are large, sharp teeth. A third 
denticle modification is the stinger of the Sting rays (Dasyatidae and 
other families), the defensive weapon which has earned the Sting ray 
well-deserved respect among both men and other fish. The spine of the 
Dogfish, the saw tooth of the Sawfish, and the sting of the ray— all are 
versions of the same "tooth," the denticle, the persistent sign of the Se- 

In the embryonic Dogfish, for example, there is virtually no dis- 
tinction between the denticles near the mouth and those elsewhere on 
the body. As the embryo develops, however, the denticles around the 
jaws become bigger and complete their growth as distinctive teeth. The 
teeth of all fishes, the higher vertebrates— and man himself— have as their 
origin modifications of the dermal layer of the skin. Nowhere is this 
fact better demonstrated than in a shark's transmutation of the denticle 
into the tooth. 

The teeth of sharks, skates, and rays are lined up in several orderly 
rows, as many as a thousand or more. The variety which characterizes 
so many other aspects of different Selachians is present in the teeth, too. 
They vary from the stiletto-shaped teeth of the Sand shark (Carcharias 
taurus) to the blunt teeth arranged like pavement stones in the mouths 
of most skates and rays. Other sharks have the more familiar triangular- 
shaped teeth, and these in turn vary, some having finely serrated edges 
and others flanking the triangle with cusps. In some rays, there is even 
a variation by sex in the teeth, the female having flat teeth and the 
male sharp ones. 

Some sharks may call into action as many as five rows of teeth which, 
in fearsome phalanxes, obey muscular orders that erect or depress what- 
ever teeth are needed on any predaceous occasion. And behind these 
teeth on active duty are row upon row of reserves lying in deep grooves 
inside the jaw. 

When a tooth is worn or lost, another moves up to replace it. The 


Shark and Company 

teeth are on a kind of somatic escalator, with the developing teeth re- 
posing in the jaw until they are needed. 

The ability of these escalators to continually bring forward identical 
teeth has been curiously demonstrated in the examination of abnormal 
teeth found in some captured sharks. In one shark, for instance, an oddly 
split tooth was found to be duplicated by all the teeth on its escalator 
track. Each one of them, including the reserve teeth covered by gum 
tissue, was split down the middle, exactly as the first-row tooth was. Fur- 
ther investigation showed that a Sting ray's stinger had become im- 

As teeth are lost or worn out, new ones rise up, escalator-like, from the shark's jaws, 
as this cross-section drawing shows. The dotted lines represent the cartilage. "Budding" 
teeth are protected by a membrane. After Ridewood 

bedded in the shark's jaw, evidently while the shark digested the Sting 
ray. The stinger apparently had pierced a tooth bud deep in the jaw, 
dividing the bud into approximately equal halves. As each succeeding 
tooth (or, more correctly, half-tooth) moved forward, it carried this de- 
formity with it. 

In some of the larger sharks, such as the Tiger shark (Galeocerdo 
cuvieri), the flashing teeth are backed by a huge, powerful jaw. The 
skull of a horse was found in one Tiger not quite 1 1 feet long. The Tiger 
was able to swallow, whole, the horse's skull because of the peculiar con- 
struction of the Tiger's jaws and the muscles that power it. The upper 
and lower jaws have joints at each comer of the mouth. The joint is 
manipulated by strong, elastic muscles that enable the shark to distend 
its mouth. Each jaw, upper and lower, is hinged in the center, so that the 
lower jaw can gape into a deep V and the upper jaw can erect into a A. 
With this mechanism, the jaws of a large shark could easily pass over 
the length of a man without touching him, even if he were somewhat 
portly, and had, say, a 40-inch waisthne. If those jaws should close, the 
shark biting and shaking its head, the man could be bitten in half. It 
has happened. . . . 

Whence the Shadows? 227 

When viewed from above, the brain case of the typical shark looks 
like a distorted hourglass whose upper half is larger than its lower. The 
upper half of the hourglass contains the biggest parts of the shark's 
brain— the olfactory lobes and the centers of the sense of smell. Because 
of the enormous size of these lobes, the shark's brain has been dubbed a 
"brain of smell." 

Curiously enough, the cerebral hemispheres of man— the seat of his 
highest mental faculties— seem to have evolved from primitive olfactory 
lobes, originally the major channels through which man's evolutionary 
forebears gathered information. (This is an extremely significant fact.) 

Thanks to the "brain of smell," the ability of the shark to detect the 
scent of food is amazing. Dr. Gilbert Percy Whitley of Australia, who has 
made a life-long study of sharks, tells of sharks following bathers who 
had merely scratched their legs while wading in the shallows. The sharks 
had detected these minute traces of blood. "I also found," Whitley re- 
ports, "that they would come very quickly to a spot in which sea-birds' 
eggs had been broken in the water, so that they must have a keen sense 
of smell." 

Experiments have shown that a certain species of male moth can de- 
tect the scent of a female moth at a distance of 2 miles. Studies indicate 
that the ability of sharks and other fish to detect smells is often similarly 
keen, although almost nothing is known of scent diffusion in water. But, 
as zoologist A. D. Hasler has remarked, "We are concerned here with a 
sense of such refined acuity that it defies comparable attainment by the 
most sensitive instruments of modern chemical analysis." 

All animals, man and Selachians included, ultimately use a liquid 
medium to employ their sense of smell. In terrestrial animals, the odor 
of a smellable substance travels through the air to a mucous film in the 
nostril. There, captured in a liquid, the smell is registered and relayed 
by the olfactory nerves to the brain, which interprets what it is. In the 
Selachians, the odor of the smellable substance travels through the water 
to the olfactory pits, or nostrils, on the underside of the shark's snout. 
Almost invariably, the pits are not used for breathing-, the result being 
that they have only one purpose: the detection of smells. The pits are 
lined with a sensitive membrane that is usually folded into a series of 
ridges coated with scent-sensitive tissue. As the shark or ray swims, a cur- 
rent of water constantly passes over this olfactory tissue. Since the swim- 
ming is more or less uninterrupted, so is the flow of smell-messages that 
are being transmitted to its scent-oriented brain. 

If a shark's nostrils are plugged and no water is allowed to flow 
over the olfactory membrane, the shark usually will swim over food 
without detecting it merely by sight. When its nostrils are unplugged, 
the shark can zero in on food even though it has been hidden. 

228 Shark and Company 

Sharks have been seen zigzagging through the water in an apparently 
aimless pattern. They were probably homing in on a scent, veering to 
the right if the right nostril detected a stronger scent, and vice versa. 
Dr. George Parker of Harvard once demonstrated this by plugging first 
one, then the other nostril of a shark in a tank. When the left nostril was 
plugged, the shark swam clockwise, seemingly relying on the messages 
transmitted by its right nostril; it swam counter-clockwise when the 
right nostril was plugged. 

The Selachian looks out on its watery world through eyes that, to 
man at least, may appear sinister.^ Some sharks stare balefuUy; others 
"wink" weirdly, with a nictitating membrane that moves up instead of 
down, as eyelids do. Some bottom-dwelling species, such as rays, have 
a fold of skin that acts as an awning to protect the eye from light coming 
from above. 

The eye of the shark varies from the enormous eye of some deep-sea 
species to the comparatively tiny eye of the huge Whale shark. Many 
nocturnal sharks have rudimentary eyes, and Electric rays of at least 
one genus (Typhlonarke) are blind. Some South African sharks (Hap- 
loblepharus edwardsi and Holohalaelurus regani), caught mostly at 
night, are called Skaamoong, or "Shy Eye," because, when one is taken 
from the water, it folds its tail over its head, as if to shield eyes sensitive 
to light. 

Behind the retina of the eyes of at least some sharks are light-reflect- 
ing tissues similar to those that make a cat's eye glow ghostlike in the 
beam of a headlight on a dark country road. These natural mirrors in- 
tensify the feeble underwater light. If the shark is in water made dazzling 
by bright sun, a kind of curtain of non-reflecting cells drops over the 
mirror-like tissue. The iris muscle of the eye will continue to expand or 
contract in shadow or light— even when it is removed from the head. 
These experiments have indicated that the muscle responds directly to 
light falling on it and does not act through a nervous impulse from the 
brain. Such a primitive arrangement is another example of the Selachian's 
ability to have evolved to a simple level and then stayed there. 

For many years, the theory has persisted that sharks do not have 
sharp eyesight. Some 50 years ago, Dr. Parker reported that Smooth 
dogfish (Mustelus canis) in experimental tanks rarely responded to an 
object that was held more than a foot away from their eyes. Primarily 

2 The authors have found occasional references to eye colors of various species of 
sharks in the literature— but, strangely, there is so little reported on the subject that it 
has been eliminated as a topic in the present work. The few occasional references do 
indicate that they range in appearance from the dull baleful eyes of the Tiger shark 
to browns and blues in other species which might tax the resources of The Word 
Finder to describe. 

Whence the Shadoivs? 229 

from laboratory experiments such as this, the belief grew that while 
sharks could see nearby objects they had limited distance vision. 

But tests conducted within recent years by Dr. Perry W. Gilbert, 
chairman of the newly formed Shark Research Panel, have indicated 
that sharks depend considerably on their eyes in hunting prey. Gilbert 
reported that a temporarily blinded shark blundered into a wall and 
knocked itself out. 

Working not with dogfish but with such big sharks as Tiger sharks 
(Galeocerdo ciivieri) and Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), Gil- 
bert anesthetized these fish, put opaque plastic caps over their eyes, 

The nictitating membrane, found in certain sharks, is 
a kind of eyelid which moves upward from the bottom 
of the eye. The eye shown is that of a Hammerhead 
{Sphyrna diplana). The membrane, found also in 
birds and reptiles, acts as a windshield wiper which 
keeps the eye clean. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 

Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow 

and WiUiam C. Schroeder, 1948 

and turned them loose in 80- by 40-foot outdoor pens. The pens, at 
the Lemer Marine Laboratory in Bimini, in the Bahamas, provide an 
environment more natural than that of an indoor laboratory tank. And, 
in this environment, Gilbert reports that a blinded shark is often helpless. 

Gilbert believes that the shark's eyes become very important as it 
nears the food that its olfactory senses have detected. He reports that 
recent tests have indicated that sharks depend more and more on vision 
as they near their prey. At about 100 feet from the prey, Gilbert says, 
the sense of vision seems to take over. The distance depends on how clear 
the water is. 

The tests from which this theory stems were conducted by tempo- 
rarily blocking vision or smell, and observing the results. When Gilbert 
and his associates obliterated both senses simultaneously, by putting 
shields over the eyes and plugging the nostrils, the sharks swam about 
helplessly, usually injured themselves by crashing into the pen barriers, 
and died in 3 to 5 days. 

Though there seems to be some evidence that sharks can— and do- 
distinguish between light and dark objects, they are generally thought 

230 Shark and Company 

to be unable to discern colors because the retinas of the eyes of most 
species do not seem to have color-perceiving cones. Recent experiments 
conducted by Dr. Eugenie Clark indicated, however, that at least one 
shark was violently repelled by the color yellow. The experiments were 
performed at the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory at Sarasota, Florida. 
Dr. Clark was working with 8-foot Lemon sharks (Negaprion breviros- 
tris) enclosed in a pen next to a dock, trying to train them to push a 
"target" for food. One shark, trained to a white target, hungrily dashed 
toward it, as usual, one day. But Dr. Clark had substituted a yellow tar- 
get to test the shark's color perception. A few feet from the target. Dr. 
Clark reported, the shark whirled, did a back flip out of the water and 
then began going crazily around in circles. Transformed into what ap- 
peared to be a very neurotic shark, it refused to eat, and soon died. 

Did the mere sight of yellow do all this? Neither Dr. Clark nor any- 
one else knows. Certainly yellow isn't that repulsive to other sharks, for, 
during World War II, many yellow life-rafts were nudged and some- 
times attacked by sharks. 

Aristotle, a pioneer fish-watcher, said that fish could hear, "for they 
are observed to run away from any loud noises like the rowing of a gal- 
ley." There have been times when marine biologists were not as posi- 
tive as Aristotle that fish could hear, but in relatively recent times dis- 
coveries have been made which clearly demonstrate that fish can hear, 
and can discriminate pitch. Little, however, is known about the hearing 
of sharks in particular. There seems to be little doubt that Selachians 
can hear, or at least pick up vibrations accompanied by what humans 
sense as sound. Selachians respond to vibrations, such as the pulsations 
of a steamer's screws in the open sea, or the ringing of an underwater 
bell in a laboratory experimental tank. And they do appear to have ears- 
inside their heads. 

The question of how sharks can detect prey at considerable dis- 
tances has long fascinated both fishermen and marine biologists. Neither 
vision nor the sense of smell can explain some of the amazing prey- 
detection performances sharks have put on before observers' eyes. Al- 
though there is no doubt that the shark's super-sensitive olfactory system 
can detect minute quantities of blood whose odor is carried toward them 
by currents, the sense of smell alone cannot explain how sharks can track 
prey whose scent or blood is being carried away from the shark by cur- 
rents. Nor can vision alone be the sense sharks use to find prey that is 
behind obstructions, such as rocks. (Skin-divers have reported many 
such incidents.) 

Somehow, sound or vibration detection would seem to be the answer 
to these mysteries. Dr. Warren Wisby of the Institute of Marine Science 
at the University of Miami has been seeking the answer in a long-range 

Whence the Shadows? 231 

study of the shark's sensory system. Wisby's subjects are Nurse sharks 
(Ginglymostoma cirratu?n), and his observations are carried on not in a 
tank— but in a drainpipe. 

The drainpipe, 16 feet long and 3 feet in diameter, was chosen so 
that distracting sounds and sights could be blocked out. One end of the 
pipe is buried in a box of water-soaked sand, which absorbs sound. The 
pipe rests horizontally on springs that further absorb sounds from the 
outside. When the shark is strapped on a kind of sled and suspended in 
the water-filled pipe, it is thus isolated from any stimuli except those 
which Wisby introduces. 

The shark is next conditioned to associate a sound with an electrical 
shock. When it detects a sound in its drainpipe prison, the shark's heart 
skips a beat— as it does when it gets an electrical shock. The telltale 
heart-skip, which proves that the shark hears a given sound, is regis- 
tered by a "lie detector." This is simply an electrode implanted near 
the shark's heart and connected to recording devices in the laboratory. 
From these recordings of shark reactions. Dr. Wisby believes, scientists 
may eventually be able to determine what types of sound attract— and 
repel— sharks. 

The sense of hearing alone does not fully explain the shark's de- 
tection of and reaction to low-frequency water vibrations— caused, for 
instance, by the struggles of a hooked fish. Certain fish, such as Croakers, 
make clearly audible sounds. But the struggles of a fish on a hook are not 
audible; they are vibrations undetectable by what we normally call hear- 
Skin-divers, whose observations are adding vast lore to marine sci- 
ence, report that schools of fish do not always take Alight when sharks 
appear. Why are these fish apparently unconcerned about the presence 
of predatory sharks? One explanation, as yet unproved, is that they can 
somehow detect, possibly through varying vibration patterns, the differ- 
ence between a "hunting" and a "non-hunting" shark. 

Such low-frequency vibrations, however, are apparently picked up 
by a mysterious sense, peculiar to fish and well represented in sharks. 
The organ that copes with this sense is apparently the lateral line, a net- 
work of nerve tunnels which run the length of the shark's body and 
fan out on its head and jaw. Reaching up vertically from the tunnels 
are shafts that end as large pores of the skin. The lateral line might be 
compared to a subway line, the shafts corresponding to the passages that 
lead from the subway to the stations on the surface. 

The importance to the shark of the lateral line has been dramatized 
by experiments in which sharks, rendered deaf and blind, still responded 
to wave motions, such as those produced when a stone is thrown into 
the water. When the nerves linking the lateral line to the brain were 

232 Shark and Compajjy 

severed, the shark showed no response to movements in the water. This 
also indicates that the lateral line has something to do with balance. 

Although the functions of the lateral line are not fully understood, 
experiments such as Wisby's may prove the theory that the lateral line 
is a sense of "distant touch," a kind of signal receiver which can trans- 
late distant vibrations into meaningful messages to the brain. Subtle move- 
ments in the water far from a shark send out feeble vibrations that travel 
through the sea at about 5,000 feet a second. It may be that the lateral 
line picks up such vibrations, and, through some process, the shark 
"reads" the vibrations as, say, waves lapping a shore— or the swimming 
pattern of a potential meal. 

In addition to the lateral line, most sharks, skates, and rays possess an- 
other curious sense system, which appears as a number of pores— some- 
times several hundred of them— scattered about the head. Each of these 
pores forms one end of a tube whose other end consists of a group of 
sensory cells called Lorenzini's ampullae, after the man who first de- 
scribed these odd sense organs in 1678. The word ampullae derives from 
their shape, which is similar to an ampulla, a narrow-necked bottle the 
Romans used in anointing themselves after bathing. To the modem eye, 
ampullae look like Coke bottles. Each ampulla is filled with a jelly-like 
substance that appears to react to either pressure changes or temperature 
fluctuations, or possibly both. 

Scenting, seeing, sensing the slightest signal from pressures, vibra- 
tions, and temperatures in its watery kingdom, the shark is like a com- 
puter constantly at work on a single equation: Life = Food. Sharks 
do not always eat, and they do not devour all the food they see. Skin- 
divers have seen sharks swimming through schools of fish without mo- 
lesting them. But, in the hungry sea, the brain of a shark undoubtedly 
does not dwell for long on thoughts other than food. 

Every shark is carnivorous, whether its prey be microscopic plankton 
or the giant sea turtle. Many sharks are gastronomically uninhibited. 
And their admirably stalwart digestive system apparently can take any- 
thing the shark happens to eat. Abundant amounts of gastric juices, 
liberally laced with hydrochloric acid, speedily break down edibles, and 
the speed of the process may account for the ravenous hunger of most 
sharks. In the opinion of some authorities, the digestive juices— strong 
enough to burn the varnish off a deck— can eventually dissolve even 
metallic objects the shark gulps down. 

The Selachians have strange stomachs in keeping with their often 
strange diet. In some, and perhaps many or all species, the stomach is 
extensible, and it may be capable of turning inside out and everting, so 
that it extends beyond the jaws. (Inside-out stomachs occur when dead 
sharks are hung up by their tails, but it is not definitely known whether 
any live shark is capable of voluntarily inverting its stomach.) 

Whence the Shadows? 233 

Some sharks apparently are also capable of regurgitating what they 
don't want, and also preserving for some time what they do. A 14-foot 
Tiger shark that died in captivity in Australia was found to have in its 
stomach two intact Dolphin-fish {Coryphaeiia) about 4 feet long. The 
shark had been captured about a month before, and had been fed only 
horseflesh, so it had managed to keep the dolphins preserved for at least 
a month. Thirty-two fish, averaging 15 inches in length, were found 
packed— and undigested— in a 13-foot Tiger shark, also captured in Aus- 

A primitive form of alimentary anatomy, called the spiral-valve in- 
testine, possibly is the answer to how the shark is able to disintegrate 
horseshoes and to store dolphins, all in the same stomach. The simple 
digestive tract of the shark is shaped like a lazy Z. The food enters the 
mouth at the left end of the upper bar of the Z. From that point to just 
about the left end of the lower bar of the Z is the stomach, in which little 
digestive action takes place. The stomach seems, thus, to be little more 
than a storage pouch. But, as the food begins the last leg of its trip, 
along the lower bar of the Z, it enters the intestine, where the digestive 
process starts in earnest. 

In the earliest vertebrates, the stomach was where food was sorted 
and the intestine was where food was broken down into simple sub- 
stances that could be absorbed by the intestinal wall for circulation to 
body cells. Essentially, this primitive system is still present in the shark. 
The higher vertebrates, including man, have developed a convoluted 
intestine so that food passing through it can be exposed to as much 
intestinal wall as possible in a small area. The shark's intestine is a cigar- 
shaped tube. Food would sweep down it, with little chance for digestive 
action— except for the fact that inside the tube is the spiral valve. 

The spiral valve is something like a carpenter's auger. The food 
spirals down it and thus its exposure to the surface area in the gut is 
greatly increased. The end-products of this spiraling process are spiraled 
faeces. A4illions of years ago, ancient sharks also dropped such oddly 
shaped dregs. They were fossilized and became prehistoric curios that 
palaeontologists today call coprolites; a word meaning, literally, dung 
that has turned to stone, and which is used for any fossilized faecal 

Dr. Eugenie Clark, whose continuing research has produced many 
new facts about sharks, has proved that sharks can be trained. Prior to 
her recent experiments, little was known about the shark's capacity for 
learning, and the assumption was that the shark was of a low order of 

Dr. Clark trained a male and a female Lemon shark (Negaprion 
brevirostris) which had been in captivity for 4 months. They were kept 
in a pen near her laboratory dock. When the training began, pieces of 


Shark and Company 

This is the first and best of the early published figures of the strange spiral valve in 
the large intestine of the shark. The shark is shown with abdomen slit open to show 
the viscera. The valve is shown with half of the intestinal wall removed. Anatomist 
Claude Perrault did an amazingly accurate job of portraying the valve, even though 
in the seventeenth century its function had not been clearly understood. Even today, 
this ancient drawing is valuable for illustrating simply the nature of the valve. 

Claude Perrault, 1671 

food were thrown to the sharks near a white plywood target which, 
when pressed, caused a submerged bell to ring. 

On the third day of training, the food was tied to the center of the 
target; in order for the sharks to get it, they had to press their snouts 
against the target. When they got the food, the submerged bell rang. This 
went on for 6 weeks, until the sharks were conditioned to associate the 
target and the bell with food. 

At the beginning of the seventh week, an empty target was lowered 
into the pen at feeding time. Now the shark had to bump the target, 
ring the bell— and then find food elsewhere in the pen. It was given 10 
seconds to get the food. If the shark didn't find the food, it went hungry. 

"The male quickly learned to press the target for reward food," Dr. 
Clark reported, "and by the end of the week both the male and the 

Whence the Shadows? 235 

female Lemon sharks were successfully conditioned to pressing the 
empty target and returning for food." 

There were also three Nurse sharks {Gmglymostofym cirratinn) in 
the pen. They didn't do so well at associating the target with food. But 
both the Nurses and the Lemons did learn to steal. And, in the summary' 
of how many times sharks successfully obtained food, a "stealing" factor 
had to be built in. A "steal" was recorded when one shark rang the bell 
and another dashed to the spot where the food was dropped. The Lemon 
sharks "earned" their food by ringing the bell 731 times and stole it 
from each other 108 times. The Nurse sharks became more adept at 
stealing than finding food. They earned food 106 times and stole it 118 
times— either by sneaking it off the target without ringing the bell, 
or by snatching it from the others. 

When colder weather chilled the water, the sharks lost interest in 
their schooling. When the w^ater turned warm again, and the target was 
once more presented to them, the sharks went through their paces, even 
though they had not seen a target for 10 weeks. 

There was no fighting among the sharks for food. In fact, one 
curious touch of what a non-scientist would call reverse chivalry was 
observed. Being a scientist. Dr. Clark put it this way: 

"We have no evidence yet in explanation of the fact that the female 
refrains from pressing the target until the initial hunger of the male 
apparently is satisfied." 

As any fish swims, water enters its mouth, beginning a breathing 
process that is similar to man's. Respiration in fish is essentially the same 
as respiration in any higher vertebrate: oxygen is absorbed into the blood 
and carbon dioxide is given off. We extract our oxygen from the atmos- 
phere; the fish extracts it from air dissolved in water. We use lungs; 
the fish uses gills, and the Selachian uses gill sHts. In each of the sHts, 
or clefts, are gill-filaments richly supplied with blood vessels. 

When the shark opens its mouth to inhale water, the clefts close. The 
water passes over the gill-filaments, carbon dioxide is released from the 
blood, and oxygen dissolved in the water is absorbed. In addition to their 
5 to 7 sets of gill clefts, sharks almost invariably also have a less impor- 
tant respiratory organ, the spiracle. The spiracle, usually located just 
behind each eye on the shark, is believed to aid in aerating the blood 
destined for the eyes and the brain. 

When a shark acts sluggishly in an aquarium, apparently because of 
a lack of oxygen, attendants take it into a shallow tank and "walk" the 
shark around it. The stroll causes water to flow into its mouth and 
through the gills, much as swimming would. As soon as the attendants 
feel the shark beginning to come out of its daze, they prudently leave 
the pool. 

236 Shark and Company 

The shark is begotten in an embrace of the male and the female. 
The male grasps the female and their bodies entwine. In this union their 
young are conceived. Their union is an act fairly rare in the sea, where 
many fishes accomplish reproduction without even touching. 

Aristotle saw sharks embrace, and wrote with amazing insight about 
their breeding and the prenatal development of their young. Not until 
the nineteenth century, however, was the copulation of sharks redis- 
covered by Louis Agassiz, an American marine biologist. 

In more recent times, the breeding of sharks has been frequently 
seen and recorded. E. W. Gudger of the American Museum of Natural 
History gave a vivid account of the copulation of Nurse sharks 
{Ginglymotsoma cirratum): 

Nurse sharks come into very shallow water to mate, and pairs, so engaged, 
are often seen. External signs of the breeding season may be shown by the 
tattered hinder edges of the pectoral fins of the females. This is due to the fact 
that the male, prior to copulation, grasps the posterior edge of one or the other 
of these fins in his mouth. Due to his smallness and the inferiority of his dental 
armature, the female not infrequently breaks away, tearing and scarring the 
edges of her fin in the escape. 

Once, however, that a secure hold is attained, she is flipped over on her back 
and the male then inserts his claspers in the lateral pockets of her cloaca, and 
the seminal fluid is transferred. 

The breeding habits of sharks dramatically set them apart from the 
vast majority of Teleost fishes. Most fish reproduce differently: eggs and 
sperm are shed in the water, and there, with the dispassion of pollen 
borne on the winds, fertilization takes place. 

Fertilization among Selachians is invariably by intercourse. The 
males perform intercourse with claspers (mixoptery gia) , appendages of 
the pelvic fins, which are supported by cartilage. Each male has two clasp- 
ers, located between the two pelvic fins. Ordinarily, the claspers trail 
close to the fins and are often mistaken for part of the fins themselves. 
When copulation is to begin, however, the fins are erected at right angles 
to the body. Observation of such courtship is very rare, and much of the 
sex life of the Selachians is cloaked from man's eyes by the sea. 

The shark's use of two claspers is not yet fully understood. The most 
modern theory is that only one clasper is used at a time. There is specula- 
tion, though, that both claspers are thrust into the female at the same 
time. The clasper is grooved, and along this groove passes the seminal 
fluid. The female has two body openings (which, in maiden sharks, are 
sealed by hymen-like membranes, another fact discovered by Aristotle). 
Whether singly or simultaneously, both orifices of the female appear to 
be used during mating. In some species, this may last for about 20 

Male and female sharks of the same species seem to be specially 

Whence the Shadows? 


In this rare photograph, a pair of Cat sharks (Scyliorhinus caniculus) are shown in 
the act of mating at the Biological Institute, Helgoland, Germany. The male has 

wrapped itself around the female. Courtesy, German institute of Fisheries 

formed for each other sexually. Male claspers vary considerably in size 
and shape. Males of some species have claspers equipped with hook-like 
structures apparently used to aid in grasping the female. Females of these 
species are protected by thick layers of skin. 

All Selachian young develop within the mother in ways that vary 
among species. Some sharks are oviparous, laying unhatched eggs; others 
are viviparous, producing live young nurtured in the womb; some are 
ovoviviparous, forming eggs that are hatched within the mother, who 
then brings forth her young alive. 

In oviparous sharks, the fertilized eggs pass down the two oviducts 
to the shell gland where a capsule or envelope is formed around the eggs 
containing a semi-fluid substance (similar to the "white" of a chicken 
egg) that surrounds the eggs. 

The richly variegated capsules— oval-shaped, pear-shaped, spiraled; 
amber, yellow, black, brown— are formed of a substance resembling 
keratin, the same ingredient that imparts hardness to animals' claws, 
hoofs, and horns. In sharks, the outer surface of the capsule is usually 
smooth or finely ribbed. The four corners of the capsule are drawn out to 
form long tendrils which coil themselves around rocks or other objects on 
the sea bottom. Not only do these tendrils act as anchors for the egg 
capsule, they also seem to aid in the delivery of the capsule from the 
mother. The tendrils project from the mother and coil around some 

The Selachian yolk-sac placenta system is illustrated here with nearly full-grown 
foetuses {Mustelus manazo). Note the umbilical-like connection between the foetus 
and the placenta, a system which approaches— but is not exactly the same as— the 

mammalian placenta. Courtesy, Einar Munksgaard from 

Danish Scientific Investigations in Iran, 1944 


Whence the Shadows? 239 

object. The mother tugs against the pull of the tendrils, easing the pas- 
sage of the capsule. 

Whitley tells of an Australian shark, the Spotted Catshark (Chiloscyl- 
liiim punctatiim), that anchors its eggs with silky fibers that are looped 
around weeds. A story goes that the mother Catshark weaves the loop 
with her own lips, but Whitley believes it is far more likely that the 
mother forms the loop by swimming around the object to which she 
wants the egg capsule anchored. The Port Jackson shark of Australia 
(HeterodojjtKS porttis-jackso?ji) lays spiraled eggs which sometimes are 
found so tightly wedged between rocks on the sea bottom that the only 
way to loosen them is literally by unscrewing them, as one would a cork- 

The majority of sharks are either viviparous or ovo viviparous, which 
means that one way or the other they give birth to living young. The 
viviparous shark, like the viviparous mammal, develops its young within 
itself. In nearly all mammals, the embryo and the mother are linked by 
an umbilical cord and placenta. Some sort of connection exists between 
the mother and the embryo in viviparous sharks, but this connection is 
not, strictly speaking, a placenta. Early in its development, the embryo 
feeds upon the yolky portion of its ovum. After a while, this part of the 
ovum becomes a distinct yolk-sac joined to the embryo by a long, thin 
neck. Eventually, the yolk-sac forms a close attachment to the womb, 
or uterine wall, and nourishment passes from the maternal blood stream 
to the embryo via the yolk-sac. This complex arrangement, which seems 
to be an evolutionary prelude to the more complex structure of the mam- 
mahan placenta, is called the yolk-sac placenta. 

In ovoviviparous sharks, there is no connection between the yolk-sac 
and the womb. A temporary shell is formed around the new embryo. 
Then the temporary shell ruptures (usually it is rolled up in the uterus) 
and the embryo continues its development within the womb, nourished 
by secretions deposited by the mother. 

The newborn pup enters the sea fully equipped to wrestle with its 
dangers. Even the Hammerheads (family Sphyrnidae) and the Spiny 
dogfish {Sqiialus acanthias), which bear spike-like quills in front of the 
dorsal fins, are born alive and fully formed without injury to the mother. 
The head of the newborn Hammerhead is pliable and the hammer-lobes 
fold back during birth. The Spiny dogfish's quills, or spines, as they are 
usually called, are covered with small knobs of cartilage when the shark 
is born. The knobs are sloughed off right after birth, so that the dogfish 
is able to use its weapons. 

Whether the new shark emerges from an &gg capsule or is born alive, 
it is fully prepared to be an adult, no matter how small. It knows no play- 
ful puppyhood, no parental care, no nest. It is a hungry, restless creature, 
the latest descendant of a primal, ageless breed. 

240 Shark and Company 

Like other life forms, sharks produce abnormalities. This two-headed shark, shown in 
left and right views, was found in Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia. A 
similar "sharkemese twin" impressed prehistoric New Zealand natives enough for them 
to draw a two-headed shark on a rock found near Waikari, New Zealand. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

chapter 10 


Along the shore of every maritime state 
in the United States and every coastal 
province in Canada; within and beyond the territorial waters of every 
nation that boasts a shore; around every island lapped by the sea; in the 
abyss and in the shoals of every ocean, cold or warm, on earth— and even 
in lakes and in rivers hundreds of miles from the sea— there are Sela- 
chians. Some are known as sharks, some as rays, some as skates; some 
are curious links between. 

Their diversification is wondrous, for, while developing into innumer- 
able species, the Selachians have managed to weave strong threads of 
similarity into their family tapestry. Often these threads are impercepti- 
ble to the untrained eye. But they are there. The Great White shark 
{Carcharodon carcharias) is a swift, graceful, and pelagic fish that roams 
the oceans with the arrogance of an invincible corsair. The "Sleeper" 
or Greenland shark (Somniosus rmcrocephaliis) spends much of its life 
languishing on the bottom of polar seas. A skate may be a small, inert, 
disk-shaped creature buried in the sand in shallow water. A ray may be 
a giant, diamond-shaped beast that leaps out of the sea. They are all 

How many Selachian species there are, no one truly knows. Within 
the past century, not one important ichthyological expedition in tem- 
perate or tropical seas has returned without reporting the discovery of 
new and therefore uncatalogued species. Some of these were later re- 
classified as more or less identical to previously reported species, but the 
rest were truly new discoveries. In their encyclopedic study of the 
shark, Fishes of the Western North Atlafitic,^ Henry B. Bigelow and 
William C. Schroeder reported in 1948 that 225 to 250 species of shark 
were known in the world, and 300 to 340 species of skates, rays, and their 
alhes had been described. Ten years later, at a conference on sharks 
attended by shark experts from the United States, Australia, Japan, 

1 Memoir Sears Foundation for Marine Research, No. 1, Fishes of the Western 
North Atlantic, Part One (New Haven, 1948). 


242 Shark and Company 

and South Africa, the number of species of sharks alone was set at 
"about 350." 

During exploratory fishing cruises in the Gulf of Mexico from 1950 
to 1955, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vessel Oregon collected 630 
species of fish. Of these, 62 species were sharks, skates, and rays— and 
10 of these were described as "new species." Similarly, in 1944, Lionel A. 
Walford, then aquatic biologist for the Service's Division of Fishery 
Biology, reported "new species" in the Gulf of California, where sharks 
are so abundant that the gulf's largest island is named TiZ??/r<9/2— Shark- 
Island. "The Mexican sharks are not very well known to science," Wal- 
ford reported. "Owing to their large size, they are poorly represented 
in museums, and then only by immature specimens. Many of the differ- 
ent species look very much alike, and are difficult to identify. Doubtless, 
several have yet to be described and named . . ."^ 

Some of the anatomical variations that ichthyologists seize upon to 
differentiate species may seem minor or minute to the non-expert. Bige- 
low and Schroeder remark, for instance, that it is sometimes difficult to 
identify some species of skates "without x-ray photographs to show the 
level at which the tip of the rostral cartilage terminates relative to the 
anterior rays of the pectorals." But it is of precision such as this that 
scientific knowledge is distilled. 

As man's limited knowledge of the sea increases, it seems likely that 
discoveries of new Selachian species will also increase. These ancient 
fish, enduring the cataclysmic changes of the eons, have had more time 
and opportunities to proliferate than any land vertebrate. 

Putting this vast group of greatly varied types into a reasonable 

~ The authors are not professional ichthyologists, and, in this work, they are not 
advancing any theories. They are extracting from the extensive materials that have 
been gathered from world-wide correspondence and from personal interviews with 
authorities in America and Europe, such information about the sharks and their rela- 
tives as they believe to be most reliable and of popular interest. 

They have been in the laboratories of some of the great scientists in this field and 
have raised many questions to which at present there are no answers. Among them is 
the possibility of cross-breeding among closely related species of sharks, which might 
explain the small differences observed among specimens and some of the confusion in 
the scientific classification of very similar species reported in various parts of the 
world. Little is known about the breeding of sharks in general— or even where they 
breed. The authors have seen parts of shark jaws that for years have defied classifica- 
tion because of minute differences between them and species that have been identified. 

It seems logical, in view of the lack of definite genetic knowledge about the 
Selachians, to presume that there is some interbreeding among them just as there is 
among breeds of dogs. If this can be used as a premise, the conclusions of Cousteau, 
Doukan, and others about the unpredictability of the behavior of any shark as an indi- 
vidual, rather than as a member of a species with set patterns of behavior, comes more 
clearly into focus. But individuals in any "pure strain" (if there is such) vary, too. 

The authors leave further speculation— and research— to those more qualified than 

Selachians Extraordinary 243 

scheme of classification is a difficult and often frustrating task.'* The 
basis of any classification system is relationship, and always the classifier 
is faced with degrees of relationship. One way of stressing this degree 
of relationship is by gathering species with fundamental structural re- 
semblances into various groups. One such group is the jafnily . 

Accompanying this text is a list of Selachian families. All the mem- 
bers of each family have characteristics in common and, in varying de- 
grees, each family is somewhat more closely related to the famiUes near- 
est it than to those at greater "distance" in this list (page 244). 

Within the biological boundaries that encompass the entire Selachian 
super-family is a long array of species. Each species has found its own 
province in the great realm of the sea. Big or small, fleet or sluggish, 
cosmopolitan or parochial, each individual Selachian is living as the limi- 
tations of its specially adapted body compel it to live. 

The species that are described have been selected to present an 
"Anthology of the Selachian." In the truest sense of the word, this is 
an anthology— a collection of some of the most interesting and most 
representative examples of a great natural assembly. 

Most of the common species found in North American waters are 
included here, along with some that are uncommon and some that are 
found far from North American shores. Our selection has not been 
hedged by geographical or ichthyological boundaries, for we wish to 
present only a selection that will provide a sweeping view of a tremen- 
dous family. 

It is an elusive family, too, still abounding in mysteries after cen- 
turies of observation. In two vast areas of the ocean— the numbing cold of 
polar seas and the profound depths— exists much life we know very little 
about. In these forbidding outposts of the sea, however, we know that 
some Selachians carry on their breed. 

In Arctic waters, where the presence of salt allows temperatures 
to drop below the freezing point of pure water, the little Arctic skate 
{Raja hyperborea) drops eggs that incubate at 32°F. or below. Off the 
southern tip of South America, a hardy dogfish {Squahis, species un- 
known) has been reported venturing into the chill seas bordering on the 
Antarctic. In 1912, the body of an 8-foot shark was found cast up on 
the beach of Macquarie Island, some 800 miles from the Antarctic 
Circle. This shark, though known from only this one specimen, has been 

3 Financial support is needed to make possible the comparison of the preserved 
species of the larger fishes (and many of the smaller ones) for detailed studv. Much of 
the confusion in the classification of sharks, skates, and ravs is due to the cost of 
preserving specimens and making them available for comparison with those captured 
in other parts of the world. This is a project worthy of investigation and the support 
of some organization. 

244 Shark and Compayiy 

The Families of the Selachians 

Torpedinidae (Electric Rays) 
Rajidae (Skates) 
Potamotry gonidae (River Rays) 
Dasyatidae (Sting or Whip Rays) 
Gyfjmuridae (Butterfly Rays) 
Urolophidae (Round Sting Rays) 

Myliobatidae (Eagle Rays and Spotted Duck-Billed Rays) 
Rhinopteridae (Cow-Nosed Rays) 
Mobulidae (Devil Rays) 
Rhino batidae (Guitarfishes) 
Pristidae (Sawfishes) 


Chlamy doselachidae (Frilled Sharks) 
Hexanchidae (Six-Gilled Sharks and Seven-Gilled Sharks) 
Carchariidae (Sand Sharks) 
Scapanorhynchidae (Goblin Sharks) 

huridae (Mackerel Sharks, Mako Sharks, Great White Sharks) 
Cetorhinidae (Basking Sharks) 
Alopiidae (Thresher Sharks) 
Orectolobidae (Nurse and Carpet Sharks) 
Rhmcodo7itidae (Whale Sharks) 
Scy liorhinidae ( Catsharks ) 
Pseudotriakidae (False Catsharks) 
Triakidae (Smooth Dogfishes) 
Carcharhinidae (Requiem Sharks) 
Sphyrnidae (Hammerhead Sharks) 
Squalidae (Spiny Dogfishes) 
Dalatiidae (Spineless Dogfishes) 
Echinorhinidae (Bramble Sharks) 
Heterodontidae (Horn Sharks) 

Squatinidae (Angel Sharks) 
Pristiophoridae (Saw Sharks) 

designated a species (Somniosus antarcticiis Whitley, 1939). From these 
clues we know that Selachians have penetrated the most frigid seas on 

In 1954, off^ Dakar, French West Africa, over one of the ocean's 
deepest abysses, Lieutenant Commander Georges S. Houot of the French 

Selachians Extraordinary 245 

Navy entered a bathyscaphe and dived to 2V2 miles. There, where the 
water pressure has a crushing force of 5,900 pounds per square inch, 
and where darkness is complete and eternal, a 6V2-foot shark glided 
through the beam of the bathyscaphe's light and looked at it with great 
protruding eves. "Every time we have visited the bottom wastes in the 
bathyscaphe," Houot later reported, "we have seen at least one shark. 
Unless our luck has been phenomenal, this must mean there are thousands 
of them living in the world's dark basement." 

About 150 species of sharks, skates, and rays are found in North 
American waters. Many species range far beyond the arbitrary boun- 
daries set up for them by ichthyologists. Facts about Selachians are 
evasive, especially facts about where they may be found. In our Se- 
lachian biographies, we have tried to list the likeliest whereabouts of 
each. But, lured by a fleeing school of fish, or an errant oceanic current, 
or an unusual fluctuation of temperature, members of any species can 
stray far outside their normal home waters. 

Many species are known by several names. One man's Sand shark 
is another man's dogfish, and one man's ray is another man's skate. There 
are quite different sharks that are known by identical names in different 
places. The scientific name of a species must be the only dependable 
label. Often, though, more than one scientific name has been applied to 
a species through the years, and the attempt to end the confusion scien- 
tifically has only added to it. However, one scientific name usually is 
satisfactory for scientists to identify each species. We have used those 
that are generally accepted for each species introduced. 

No common shark, skate, or ray is generally known by its awkward 
scientific name, but only those less or little known. A common name 
evolves, and it sticks, usually because it is sharply descriptive— as Ham- 
merhead is to Europeans and Americans. Less common names persist, 
however, and we have also listed many of them, probably at a certain 
peril. For these are aliases, and, like all aliases, they becloud identity. 
We have adopted, in fact, the standard police usage for aliases— a/.y<? 
kjwirti as— when we list them. 


A creature shaped like a guitar . . . another that wields a slashing 
saw for a snout . . . another with electric-shock power as legendary 
as it is painfully real . . . another with a tail barb that can wound or 
even kill . . . another that soars up from the sea and hurtles down 
again with a crash made thunderous by an awesome, bat-shaped body 
that weighs thousands of pounds. These are some of the Batoids, less- 
recognized relatives of the well-known sharks. 

These relatively younger members of the Selachian family are skates. 

246 Shark mid Covipmiy 

rays, and their relatives, which are all grouped under the classification 
Batoidei. The Batoids appeared in more recent geological eras than the 
sharks, but they have been around for a long time. Their oldest known 
members can trace their lineage back to, at least, the Upper Jurassic Age 
in geological time, about 1 30 million years ago by some estimates. 

Most Batoids are easily recognized by their disk-like shape. But this 
characteristic is not found in all Batoids. The Batoids can be divided into 
five major groups, each of which is further subdivided down to species. 
The groups are: 

Electric Rays 

Unlike any other Batoids, or sharks for that matter, these unique 
Selachians have highly developed electrical organs. (In this respect alone 
they are similar to the much-feared electric eel of South America.) They 
have a shark-like tail, although reduced in size. 


Typically, rays are shaped like a boy's kite, complete with tail. In 
many species, the tail is armed with one or more barbed points (techni- 
cally called spines). 


They resemble rays at first glance. But their tails are lobed, none have 
poison stingers in the tail, and the tails are fleshier and heavier than in 
rays. Few grow to large size. They have fleshy, movable fins, usually 
attached to the anterior margin of each pelvic fin, on which they can 
"walk" across the bottom. 


Their long, narrow snouts are flat and each edge has a single row of 
large, pointed tooth-like structures, giving the snout the appearance of 
a double-edged saw. Sawfishes are not disk-shaped; their bodies are shark- 
like. They are classified among the Batoids because of certain anatomical 
details, such as gill slits on the underside of the body, which differentiate 
them from the sharks. 


Their name discloses their shape. They are probably links between 
sharks and rays. 

Like their close relatives, the sharks, the Batoids range the world. 
They are found in polar and tropical seas, near shore and at great depths. 
Some have infiltrated fresh waters. They have branched off into hun- 
dreds of varied species and some have developed somewhat peculiar 

Selachians Extraordinary 247 

techniques of survival. Always, however, they have remained Selachians. 
They are basically nothing more than flattened sharks. They breed 
like sharks, feed carnivorously like sharks, and, in their very skeletons, 
they carry the gristly substance which separates all sharkdom from the 
bony fishes: cartilage. 

Alost Batoids are sluggish bottom-dwellers, for their flattened bodies 
were developed for life on or near the ocean floor. (But not all. Certain 
huge pelagic species have been encountered in the Pacific and the Indian 
Oceans about which, unHke the Atlantic A4antas, we know little or 
nothing.) Since most of them have found their destiny on the ocean 
bottom, they have had to adapt their breathing to their environment. If 
they inhaled water while they rested on the bottom, they might scoop 
in sand which would injure the delicate gill-filaments within their un- 
derside gill slits. So they breathe in reverse, drawing in water through 
their spiracles. The spiracle, on the top side of the body, is equipped 
with a valve, and the water is drawn in, then expelled through the gill 
clefts on the underside. If a foreign object such as sand or a bit of sea- 
weed is introduced in the spiracle, the bottom-dwelling Batoid has an- 
other trick up its spiracle— it spouts water and drives out the obstruction. 

Batoids range in size from small rays only a few inches across to the 
huge Giant Devil ray (Ma?7ta birostris), known to grow to a breadth of 
22 feet or more and a weight of more than 3,000 pounds. 

No known Batoid has the sharp-pointed teeth found in many sharks 
Batoids' teeth vary from thorn-like prongs on a broad base to rounded 
or plate-like, and they are usually arranged in bands or a kind of mosaic 
that sometimes resembles paving stones. This type of dentition is highly 
efficient for crushing the moUusks and crustaceans that are usually found 
in the bottom-dwelling Batoid's diet. 

Let us now take a closer and more systematic look at the Batoids. 
First, the Electric Rays. 

Family Torpedijiidae— Electric Rays 
Set apart from all other ray families is that of the Torpedi?iidae—the 
Electric rays— which encompasses more than 30 species. Electric rays of 
various types are found in all the oceans of the world. 

Electric rays so fascinated the ancients that the humble fish found 
its way into Etruscan vases, Roman mosaics, Egyptian murals, and 
Greek literature. 

Our word narcotic comes from the Greek word for the Electric ray, 
narke. The Greeks believed that the "Numbfish" could bewitch both 
its prey and the fisherman angling for it. Because Socrates similarly be- 
witched—or perhaps numbed— his listeners with spellbinding oratory, 
he was compared by his colleagues to the Numbfish. And the ancient 


Shark and Company 

Greeks well knew that the best way to get rid of superfluous hair was to 
apply the brains of the Numbfish, mixed with alum— on the sixteenth day 
of the moon, of course. They also believed that the best way to assure an 
easy delivery for a woman in labor was to put a Numbfish in the same 
room with her. 

The fascination of the Electric ray has persisted through the years, 
and only in relatively recent times has its electrical-generating ability 

This drawing shows a partially dissected Electric ray ( Torpedo ) which lays bare 
one of the electric organs (e. o. ) with its nerve network. As many as 500,000 "electric 
plates" are found in an organ. Each plate is connected to the main nerve supply with 
a cluster of delicate nerve tendrils. The main nerve to which the organ connects 
terminates in a special lobe of the Electric ray's brain. Rudimentary electric organs 
have also been found in the tails of skates and rays. After Gegenbaur 

been understood. The electric organs consist of two groups of highly 
specialized cells, one organ on each side of the disk-Uke body. These 
organs consist of muscle tissue in which the ordinary electrical-generat- 
ing ability, found in any muscle, is greatly increased. 

Each organ is made up of many columns, running vertically through 
the body and arranged like large honeycombs. Each column, made up of 
375 or more disks, is filled with a jelly-like substance. The small disks 
produce the same effect as do the electrical plates in batteries, and, in 
fact, resemble the original voltaic pile— disks of silver and zinc separated 
by moistened cloth— which historically led to the development of the 

Selachians Extraordinary 249 

battery. Four large nerve trunks lead from a special "electrical lobe" 
in the Electric ray's brain to the electric organs. The nerve trunks branch 
out to form a complex network of fine filaments that connect with each 
of the small disks. Thus, the Electric ray has voluntary control over its 
unique organs, which it uses in defense and in stunning prey. 

From the organic battery comes electricity as real as man-made elec- 
tricity. Like the power that surges from 110-volt household outlets, the 
ray's electricity can produce a spark, make a bulb glow, deflect a com- 
pass needle, and, when connected to a telephone, carry audible sound. 
Repeated use of the powerhouse obviously tires the ray, which must 
use up energy to produce its electricity. Successive bursts of electricity 
become more and more feeble, and some time is required for the Elec- 
tric ray to build up strength after it has emitted several shocks. The 
maximum recorded voltage emitted by an Electric ray (Torpedo yiobili- 
ana) is 220 volts. [The maximum of 550 volts was recorded for the so- 
called Electric eel (Electrophonis electriciis) found in South America.] 
A newborn T. nobiliana can generate electricity the moment it leaves 
its mother's womb, though in the process of birth apparently the mother 
receives no shocks from her galvanic offspring. 

This ray, also known as the Torpedo ray. Torpedo, Numbfish, and 
Crampfish, is probably the largest of all Torpedinidae, growing to lengths 
of at least 5, and probably 6, feet. The heaviest ray recorded weighed an 
estimated 170 to 200 pounds. This Electric ray, commonly called the 
Torpedo, is found on both sides of the Atlantic, from Scotland to the 
Azores and tropical West Africa on the east; from Nova Scotia to North 
Carolina on the west. It is also found in the Mediterranean, around the 
Florida Keys, in the waters of Cuba, and has been reported in other 

The Torpedo's electrical shock is strong enough to stun a fisherman 
who handles one or a bather who steps on one. A fisherman in Province- 
town, Massachusetts, reported that he has often received potent shocks 
"which have thrown me upon the ground as if I had been knocked down 
with an ax." Skin-divers have received painful shocks after spearing a 
Torpedo and then trying to pull out the metal shaft. 

The Torpedo does not get its name from a predilection for darting 
through the sea like a torpedo. The name comes from the same Latin 
word which gives us torpid, and torpid is the word for Torpedoes. 
They spend much of their lives lying on the bottom, partially buried in 
the sand and mud, where their dark coloring aids their concealment. 
Apparently, Torpedoes stun their prey on contact. A 2-pound eel, a 
1 -pound flounder and a salmon weighing nearly 5 pounds were all found 
in the stomach of one Torpedo, and none of the victims had a mark on 
its body. 


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An Electric ray ( Torpedo nobiliana ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

In an experiment to determine how the Torpedo uses its electric 
organ to stun prey, Dr. D. P. Wilson of the Plymouth Aquarium in 
England connected electrodes to a dead 9-inch Horse mackerel, which 
was pulled through an aquarium tank past a Torpedo nobiliana. The 
Torpedo pounced on the fish. As it enfolded the mackerel with its 
pectorals, the electrodes detected a strong shock. If the mackerel had 
been alive, presumably this shock would have been sufficient to render 
it helpless while the Torpedo devoured it. 

One type of Electric ray, the Blind Torpedo ray (Typhlonarke 
aysoni Hamilton, 1902), has no eyes. It makes its way along the sea 
bottom around New Zealand on modified ventral fins that, in a weird 
way, resemble stumpy legs. The fins project at right angles to the body 
and their tips are covered with a thick skin. These "fins" are far better 
for moving over the ocean bed than for swimming through the sea. 

A species similar to T. nobiliana (Torpedo calif ornica Ay res, 1855) 
is found along the Pacific Coast of North America, from southern British 
Columbia to southern California. 

Selachia?js Extraordinary 251 

A rare Electric ray {Diplobatis ommata) . 

Courtesy, The New York Zoological Society 

Because Electric rays of one kind or another are found tiiroughout 
the world, they have many names. One of the printable ones is Abiibun- 
samu, used on the African Gold Coast. It means "breaker of hands"! 

Family Rajidae—SKATES 

In their own quiet, innocuous way, the skates have been responsi- 
ble for nearly as much misinformation and nonsense as any other crea- 
ture in the sea. Their curious egg cases, ranging in size from about 7^/4 
inches long and 5^2 wide to about 2^/4 by 1 inches, and found on beaches 
throughout the world, have been called "mermaids' purses," and the 
skates themselves have been used to perpetuate legends of sea monsters. 
Dried skates, cut and twisted into weird shapes by puckish sailors— and 
merchants— have long been sold as curios. Most of this was done by 
curio dealers— in the Far East in particular. The monstrosities were 
brought home (Europe, the United States) by sailors who bought them 
there. Sailors were seldom fishermen in ports where they could have 
caught them. Dr. Gilbert P. Whitley, the Australian ichthyologist, says 
that this trade has been going on for hundreds of years. The curios, 
peddled as Monkey Fish, Dragons, Basilisks, Mermaids, or Sea Eagles, 
are sometimes called "Jenny Hanivers" by seafarers. 

Naturally malformed skates, whose pectoral fins failed to fuse with 
their heads while they were embryos, have fooled even ichthyologists. 
These mistakes of nature were sometimes hailed as strange new species. 
Actually, what causes these malformations is unknown. Like all animal 

252 Shark and Compatiy 

The "flying" movement of a typical skate is 
shown in this series of drawings. The wing-Uke 
pectoral fins stretch backward and end in 
points like the wings of swift birds. This flying 
movement has inspired the calling of some 
species "Sea Eagles" and "Sea Hawks." 

After Marey 

forms, Selachians produce occasional morphological oddities. Two- 
headed sharks have been reported— one, of an unrecorded species, was 
found in the river Nile. Albino sharks and Batoids are not unknown. 

Skates (and rays) are highly specialized forms of sharks that have 
gone beyond the shark in developing modifications for living on the sea 

Selachians Extraordinary 


bottom. In the course of evolution, the cylindrical body of the shark 
became flattened, the pectoral fins became greatly enlarged, and their 
basal attachments gradually widened until they became united to the 
sides of the head. At last, the disk-like body of the skates and the rays 
was evolved. 

This incredibly long evolutionary process is telescoped during the 
embryonic development of both the skate and the ray. The embryo 
goes through a number of shark-like stages until it concludes its gesta- 
tion as a disk-shaped form. A4alformed skates' development is arrested 
during their embryonic period, and they wind up looking like some- 
thing in between a shark and a skate . . . 

"Skates are described as mating ventral side to ventral side," Bigelow 
and Schroeder write,* "and pairs so engaged are sometimes hauled up 
on hook and line. It has been observed that the males and females of one 
of the larger European species (Raja batis) hold their disks flat while 
mating; but the female of the smaller R. asterias curves her pectorals 
ventrally, while the male, rolling the outer corners of his pectorals out 
of the way ventrally, then bends the fins inward around her back, which 
brings his alar spines (claw-like retractile spines on the dorsal side of 
the outer part of each pectoral) in position to fasten to her. At least for 
some of the larger species it is reported that only one clasper is introduced 
into the cloaca of the female at a time, but for other species it is said 
that both are introduced simultaneously." 

■* Memoir Sears Foundation for Marine Research, No. 1, Fishes of the Western 
North Atlantic, Part Two, Sawfishes, Guitarfishes, Skates and Rays (New Haven, 
1953), p. 141. 

Jenny Haniver is the seaman's name for a fantastic "monster" made by cutting and 
twisting dried skates into grotesque shapes. This is an old, old Jenny, which appeared 
in Gerner's Icones Animalium, published in 1560. The skate's head has been bent 
forward and its "wings" trimmed. From an old print 

254 Shark and Company 

Skates are oviparous without known exception, and their oblong egg 
capsules are essentially the same as the oviparous sharks' capsules. But, 
instead of tendrils, the skate's capsules have stiff, pointed horns pro- 
jecting from all four corners. The capsules are generally coated on one 
side with a sticky substance. Small pieces of shells, stones, or seaweed 
adhere to it and help to keep it on the bottom. Sometimes, too, the 
horns imbed themselves in the muddy or sandy bottom which the skate 
usually chooses for her hatchery. 

Half buried in the sheltering silt of the sea bottom, or snugly moored 
to a staunch rock or other anchorage, the egg capsule becomes an in- 
cubator for the embryo developing within it. (Raja binoculata some- 
times has seven!) The capsule will be the embryo's home for a long 
time— at least 4^2 months, sometimes as long as 15 months. The tough, 
horny shell protects the embryo from predators, but, more important, 
the capsule provides its charge with the stuff of life itself: oxygen. Either 
by osmosis or by tiny perforations in the capsule, sea water enters and 
leaves, bathing the embryo with oxygen and carrying off carbon dioxide. 
Thus, in the early stages of incubation, the capsule acts as a natural sea 
environment for the embryo. 

Nourishing albumen engulfs the embryo, which feeds upon it. The 
embryo's diet also probably includes some chemical nutrients carried 
in by the sea. In some species, a plug of albumen seals the slits in the 
shell. After a while, the albumen is absorbed, thus unsealing the slits. 
In other species, a delicate membrane temporarily seals the slits. When 
the slits (located in the horns of the skate's capsules) open, a current of 
water flows freely through the capsule. When its incubation is com- 
pleted, the skate slips out of an incredibly narrow slit in the capsule and 
begins its free life in the sea. 

Alany skates, including some that are common on the Atlantic, Gulf, 
and Pacific Coasts, have electric organs in their tails. The output of these 
organs is feeble, and there is no record of a fisherman ever having been 
shocked by a skate. While the Electric rays (family Torpedinidae) can 
produce a potent shock, the puzzling electric organ in the skate is differ- 
ent from the Electric ray's. The skate's organ is linked by nerves to the 
spinal nerves; the Electric ray's electric organ is linked to the cranial 

Although much is known of the electrical organs found in the Tor- 
pedinidae and other sea creatures with similar organs, little is known 
of the skate's electrogenic ability. However, recent studies of 22 species 
of skates in Japanese waters showed that every species had electrical tis- 
sue in its tail. Dr. Reizo Ishiyama, who made the study, has raised the 
possibility that all skates may eventually be found to have electrogenic 
capabilities— though for what use, no one yet knows. 

Selachians Extraordinary 255 

Skates swim by undulating their pectoral fins in a graceful move- 
ment that more resembles flying than swimming. But the skate is usually 
a ground fish which often lies half-buried in the sand or mud. Since its 
mouth is on the bottom of its body, the skate appears not to be able to 
catch moving prey by dashing forward; it swims over its victim, then 
suddenly drops down upon it and devours it. The skate's usual diet 
includes crabs, shrimps, lobsters, clams, and smaller shellfish. 

Skates are found in the warm, temperate, and boreal latitudes which 
gird the earth. They are particularly abundant from southern New Eng- 
land to New Jersey. On one memorable summer's day at Bradley Beach, 
New Jersey, 10,000 pounds of skates were pulled from the sea in one 
mighty lift of a large net. 

They are also abundant in California waters. Phil M. Roedel and 
William Ellis Ripley of California's Bureau of Marine Fisheries reported 
in 1950 that great numbers were being taken in trawl nets, but fishermen 
threw them back. "The skates, like weeds, are very hardy and apparently 
thrive when returned to the water unharmed," Roedel and Ripley re- 
ported. "It is not uncommon, in areas worked for many years, to make 
trawl catches containing almost nothing else." 

Anglers who reel in skates are frequently surprised— and disap- 
pointed—at what they have caught. For the skate has the habit of de- 
pressing the outer edge of its body when hooked, thus forming a kind 
of vacuum cup on the bottom. The angler has to use so much effort to 
dislodge the stubborn skate that he thinks he has a heavier fish than the 
lightweight he finally lands. 

Although there is no evidence that any skates live permanently in 
fresh water, strays have been caught in river water far enough from the 
sea to be called fresh. A large skate was reported in 1883 to have been 
caught in the River Ouse near Bedford, England, some 60 to 70 miles 
from the sea. A report in 1929 said that one had been taken from the 
Yangtze River in China. 

Skates, generally found in shallow water and in depths of less than 
100 fathoms, also dwell in the great depths. At least seven species have 
been recorded in areas of the sea known as the deep-abyssal— below a 
depth of about 2,000 meters, or 6,560 feet. 

About a hundred species of skates are included in the biggest genus 
(Raja) of the family Rajidae, making it the Selachian genus with by far 
the most species. Another 20-odd species are assigned to eight other 
genera, although some ichthyologists place one curious group in a sepa- 
rate family, the Anacanthobatidae. These odd-looking skates have snouts 
that flare into the shape of a spired mosque. Their pelvic appendages are 

One species of this skate (Sprijjgeria folirostris Bigelow and Schroe- 


Shark and Company 

der, 1951) has been found in the Gulf of Mexico, at 185 to 258 fathoms. 
Little is known about it. The largest reported by Bigelow and Schroeder 
was a male about 15 H inches long, but it was obviously immature, so the 
potential maximum size of this strange skate is not known. Nor are its 
habits or full range known. Other, more abundant skates include: 

Brier Skate 
{Raja eglanteria Bosc, 1802) 
(Also Known as Clear-Nosed Skate, Summer Skate) 
This skate, one of the most abundant from New Jersey to Virginia, 
is frequently caught close to shore, where it is believed to breed. 

The Brier— so called because of a row of thorns that runs down 
the middle of its back— appears in April between the Chesapeake and the 
Delaware Bays. It is common around New York and New Jersey from 
mid-May to October. From July until September, it is usually off southern 
Massachusetts. In cold weather, it retreats as far south as Florida. 

Its upper side is brown and its lower side white. The longest Brier 
on record was 37^ inches long. The egg cases are 2 to 3^/4 inches long 
(not including horns), and l^^^ to ly^ inches wide. 

Brier skate ( Raja eglanteria ) : ( A ) female; ( B ) male. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and WiUiam C. Schroeder, 1953 

Selachians Extraordinary 


California Skate 
(Raja inornata) 
One of the most abundant skates on the western coast of the United 
States, the California skate is found from the Straits of San Juan de Fuca 
(Washington) south to Cedros Island in Lower California. Small prickles 
line its mid-back, the larger ones on the snout and between the eyes, 
and it has three to five rows of prickles on the back of its tail. It grows 
to 2^2 feet in length. It is pale above, and duskily mottled below. 

Little Skate 

{Raja erinacea Mitchell, 1825) 

(Also Known as Hedgehog Skate, Common Skate, Tobacco Box Skate) 

After a storm along the Atlantic coast, this small prolific skate is 
often found washed up on the beach. Not only is it familiar to Atlantic 
fishermen, it is also well known to zoological students, for the Little skate 
is one of the most popular subjects for the dissection table in zoology 

A Little skate {Raja erinacea): (A) male; (B) female. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1953 


Shark and Company 

classrooms. Fishermen, who know it well as a shoal-water inhabitant, 
put it to use, too— by using it as bait in eel and lobster traps. 

A trawler once hauled in an average of 98.8 pounds of Little skates 
per hour in Long Island Sound. 

Mating takes place the year round. A study of Little skate embryos 
in their &^^ cases was made by scientists at the Bingham Oceanographic 
Laboratory of Yale University. It indicated that the embryos get out of 
their cases by wagging their tails. They seem to bore a slit in the case 
by tireless movement of their tails. When their 6- to 9-month hatching 
period is over, they slip out of this slit and are on their own. 

They live in shallow water close to shore along the western Atlantic, 
from North Carolina to Nova Scotia and the southern side of the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence. 

The Little skate, at full maturity, weighs about 1^ pounds and is 
known to grow to 21 inches in length. Its tail and the mid-ridge of its 
back is thorny. Its upper surface is grayish or dark brown, usually with 
small, darker spots; its lower surface is white or pale gray. The Little 

An abyssal skate ( Raja bathyphila ) : ( A ) male; ( B ) newly hatched male. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and WilUam C. Schroeder, 1953 

Selachians Extraordinary 


External features of the Barndoor skate ( Raja laevis ) : ( A ) ventral view of male pelvic 
region; (B) side view of claspers; (C) mouth and teeth. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1953 

skate's egg case is black, about 2 inches long (not including horns) and 
about 1 to 1 ^ inches wide. 

Starry Skate 
(Raja stellulata Jordan and Gilbert, 1880) 
(Also Known as Prickly Skate) 
A beautifully ornamented skate, whose upper side is a constellation 
of blacks spots, the Starry skate is found from northwest Alaska to south- 
ern California in fairly deep water. It grows to about 2 V2 feet in length. 

Abyssal Skate 
{Raja bathyphila Holt and Byrne, 1908) 

The Abyssal skate dwells in the depths, and is rarely caught. The 
few specimens that have been brought to the surface were hauled from 
depths of a mile or more in the North Atlantic. It is known to grow 
to 18 inches in length. 

A similar creature of the depths, the Deep-Sea skate of the Pacific 
(Raja abyssicola Gilbert, 1895), is known from a single specimen pulled 
from a depth of about 9,525 feet— some 1,000 feet less than 2 miles— in 
the Pacific, west of Moresby Island, British Columbia. It was a male 4^2 
feet long. 

260 Shark and Company 

Barndoor Skate 

{Raja laevis Mitchell, 1817) 

(Also Known as Sharp-Nosed Skate) 

The Barndoor skate, which reaches 5 and possibly 6 feet in length, 
is one of the few skates known to attack fish. In fact, a relative, the 
Spiny dogfish (Sqiialus acanthias), is included in its varied diet. It also 
eats herring and cod, and will take just about any kind of bait. 

The Barndoor roams the Atlantic Shelf of the North Atlantic, from 
the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to North Carolina. Its yellowish or 
greenish-brown &^g case is about 5 inches long and about 2^2 inches wide. 

It is a close relative of the Common skate {Raja batis Linnaeus, 1758) 
of the eastern Atlantic. The largest Common skate recorded in Great 
Britain was 7 feet across. 

Two Pacific Coast skates are also similar to the Barndoor. The Big 
skate {Raja binoculata Girard, 1854) grows to about 8 feet in length and 
is found from northwestern Alaska to southern California. Its egg cases, 
sometimes a foot long, are unusual, for they contain up to seven eggs 
each. The Long-Nose skate {Raja rhina Jordan and Gilbert, 1880), found 
from southeastern Alaska to southern California, grows to about 5 feet. 
Its t^^ cases are 4 or 5 inches long and generally hold one t^^. 

Eyed Skate 

{Raja ocellata Mitchell, 1815) 

(Also Known as Big Skate, Winter Skate) 

This skate gets both its common name (Eyed) and its scientific name 

{ocellata) from the eye-like spots scattered about the upper surface of 

its body. 

The egg-case of the Eyed skate ( Raja ocellata ) . Embryo shown in egg-case. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1953 

Selachia?is Extraordinary 


Texas skate {Raja texana). Male, left. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1953 

It ranges through the continental waters of the western North At- 
lantic from northern North Carolina to northern Nova Scotia, the south- 
ern side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Newfoundland Banks. But 
its appearances are apparently based on its preference for relatively cool 
water— and sandy or gravelly bottoms. It tends to disappear from shal- 
low water along southern New England in the early summer, and then 
reappears there and in New York waters in early autumn. This habit 
gives it another common name: Winter skate. In fact, more are reported 
caught in Aiassachusetts Bay during the winter than in the summer. 

These skates grow to about 32 inches in length and 9 pounds in 
weight. Their greenish-brown or brownish-olive egg cases are about 2 
or 3 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide, excluding horns. 

262 Shark and Company 


Caudal Fin 
Dortal Fin 

1 *' Dorsal Fin 

Outline of a typical Skate, as viewed from above ( left ) and below ( right ) , showing 
principal external features. Courtesy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Texas Skate 
(Raja texana Chandler, 1921) 
This skate, which reaches a maximum known length of 20 inches, is 
spectacularly marked by a single eye-like spot on the upper side of each 
"wing" or pectoral. 

It is known on the west coast of Florida and the coasts of Mississippi, 
Louisiana, and Texas. 


The rays have a much wider distribution than the skates in the salt 
and fresh waters of the world, and a wider diversity of forms to suit 
them to their environments. They are found at considerable altitudes in 

Selachians Extraordinary 263 

wholly fresh waters, in some cases thousands of miles from the sea. They 
are found living over great depths of the oceans. And they are distributed 
along the shelves of all the Continents. Their temperature range and 
salinity requirements seem to have been compensated for in their long 
evolutionary history. 

Seen on the sea bottom, a ray appears to be an inert shape whose only 
movement is the persistent blinking of two odd, oblong objects that look 
like eves: the spiracles. 

But the ray is a creature of illusion. It does not always sprawl on 
the bottom; it often hovers, moves slowly, or even "flies" along, with its 
wing-like pectoral fins flapping like a bird, touching the sand or silt and 
fanning small crustaceans, starfish, and other food off^ the bottom so 
that they can be more easily eaten. Its eyes and spiracles are on the top 
of its body, and it is the spiracles, pulsating with each intake of breath, 
that appear to be blinking eyes. Its real eyes, ever looking up, never see 
bottom— and never blink. 

All appearances of sluggishness vanish instantly when a ray suddenly 
sweeps up from the bottom and glides through the darkening sea, un- 
dulating its pectoral fins in an exquisite sequence of motions as graceful 
as the flutter of a silken veil in a gentle wind. 

Rays resemble skates, but several rather technical diff^erences set the 
two apart in the phylogenetic family tree of the Selachians. Among 
fishermen and non-experts, the two are often synonymous. Even their 
names are from the same root. Skate is a Norse word. The creatures the 
Norse called skates were christened rays (raie) by the French, ray 
meaning striped or streaked, a characteristic which doesn't apply to all 
species.^ One way to difi^erentiate them is to remember that skates, es- 
pecially those commonly seen in North America, are generally long- 
nosed and rays are generally not long-nosed. But this is a very loose 
generalization with plentiful exceptions. 

There is another difi^erence between skates and rays, a diflFerence more 
elemental than ichthyological classifications: as far as is known, skates 
are harmless. But some rays exist with most fearsome defenses. 

Unlike the skates, which produce their young oviparously in egg 
cases, the rays are all believed to be ovoviviparous, bringing forth their 
young alive (after they have hatched from eggs within the mother). 
In some rays, there is a connection between the mother and the uterine- 
hatched embryo that is more direct than is found in ovoviviparous sharks. 
The female rays of this type have a uterus whose walls are densely lined 
with long filaments, called villi. The villi, passing into the spiracles of 

^ The "striping" actually referred to the many "raies" disclosed in the fin when 
served as a table delicacy which has been popular in France since time immemorial. 

264 Shark and Company 

the embryo, carry a milky nutritive fluid which the embryo absorbs as 

Some rays give birth to young fantastically large in comparison to 
the mother. The late E. W. Gudger of the American Museum of Nat- 
ural History reported that "the size of these young, flat, wide-pectoral 
raylets, when ready for birth, is the thing that makes their parturition a 
matter of seeming impossibility." 

Gudger reported the capture ofl^ Beaufort, North Carolina, of a ray 
{Rhmoptera botiasus) 24 inches wide, which, "on being clubbed on the 
head in the small boat to keep her quiet, gave birth to two young, each 
8.5 in. long (tip of nose to end of ventral fin), and 13.5 in. wide." An- 
other ray (Dasyatis sayi) from the same location was, Gudger reported, 
"36 in. wide by 35 in. long. From her were obtained two young of about 
equal size. The one measured was 14.75 in. wide and 5.75 in. long. In 
addition the tail was 9.5 in. long." 

The female ray is able to accomplish the birth of such proportionally 
huge young because the flat-bodied embryos are tightly rolled; they re- 
semble a cigar in shape. At birth, its passage eased by the milky uterine 
fluid in which it has been immersed, the ray pup leaves its mother's 
body— and immediately unrolls in the sea and swims away. 

Family Potamotry gonidae— River Rays 
So prevalent are Sting rays in fresh water that an entire family has 
been allotted to them. These River rays are not so well known as their 
salt-water kin because they often live in relatively unexplored jungle 
rivers, particularly in Central and South America, and in parts of East 
Asia and parts of Africa, where thev are said practically to carpet some 
stretches of river bottom. While there are only a few identified species, 
they can be extremely abundant where they are found. 

Typical of the wild and desolate areas where the River rays are found 
are the nameless tributaries of the Rio Putumayo, where it snakes along 
the Ecuador-Colombia border, hundreds of miles from the Pacific. There, 
wrote explorer Rolf Blomberg in Buried Gold arid Anacondas,^ "is the 
sting ray, whose habit is to lie hidden in the mud and sand on the river 
bottoms; great care must be taken not to tread on it. It has a long tail with 
poisonous serrated spines, and it is as skillful as a fencer in the use of 
this weapon. An encounter with a sting ray is a painful and sometimes 
really dangerous experience." 

Primitive South American Indians who have never seen the sea are 
so familiar with the danger of stepping on a Sting ray that they drag 
their feet when they wade in rivers. The Sting ray's poisonous barbs 

■6 Rolf Blomberg, Buried Gold and Anacondas (New York: Nelson, 1959). 

Selachians Extraordinary 



A South American Sting ray {Trygon nistrix). 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

are so well known that some Indian tribes tip their spears with the 
stings of the rays, just as Pacific islanders do. 

Sting rays are similarly plentiful in the fresh waters of Thailand. 
In his study of the fresh-water fishes of Thailand, pubUshed by the U.S. 
National Museum in 1945, Hugh M. Smith reported a Sting ray, well 
known in the Indian Ocean and the Indo-AustraUan Archipelago (Dasya- 
tis sepheii), flourishing in fresh water. Though not strictly a River ray 
(this ray does not anatomically qualify for membership in the Fotamot- 
rygonidae family), Smith reported: "In the inner lake of the Tale Sap 
it is quite common at times and produces young in the strictly fresh 
waters of that 'inland sea.' " Another Thai Sting ray, identified by 
Smith as D. bleekeri, is so acclimated to fresh water that it is called 
pla kaheji inmj chiiet—'ihe. fresh-water rav fish." 

One species of River ray, known as the South American Fresh- Water 
Sting ray {Potamotrygon vwtoro)^ is usually described by authorities 
as an extremely dangerous species. It has been found in the fresh-water 

266 Shark and Compa?iy 

A Sting ray ( Dasyatis centroura ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

rivers of Paraguay, in the Amazon River, and in other rivers south to 
Rio de Janeiro. But undoubtedly its riparian haunts extend throughout 
the innumerable and little-explored rivers that lace the whole of the 
equatorial rain forest of South America. 

Family Dasyatidae—STiNG Rays, Whip Rays 

". . . There is nothing that is more to be dreaded than the sting 
which protrudes from the tail of the Trygon ... a weapon five inches 
in length. Fixing this in the root of a tree, the fish is able to kill it: it 
can pierce armor, too, like an arrow, and to the strength of iron it 
adds the venom of poison."— Pliny's Naturalis Historia. 

If Pliny was right, they aren't making Sting rays the way they used to. 
No modern Sting ray's stinger will wither a tree or pierce armor. But 
there is no doubt that the stinger can inflict painful and, occasionally, 
fatal wounds. According to some versions of the Odysseus epic, the 
long spear with which Telegonus killed Odysseus was tipped with a 
stinger provided by the sorceress Circe. 

In his Generall Historie of Virginia, Captain John Smith, writing of 
himself in the third person, tells how he captured a Sting ray with 
"a most poisoned sting . . . which she stucke into the wrist of his 
arme near an inch and a half; no blood nor wound was seene, but a 
little blewe spot, but the torment was instantly so extreeme, that in 

Selachians Extraordifiary 267 

foure houres had so swollen his hand, arme and shoulder we all with 
much sorrow concluded his funerall, and prepared his grave on an 
island near the mouth of the Rappahannock River by himself directed; 
yet it pleased God, by a precious oyle Dr. Russell at the first applyed 
to it with a probe, ere night his tormenting paine was so well asswaged 
that he eate of the fishe to his supper." 

Stingers are such good defensive weapons that man has used them 
for that purpose. Spears tipped by one or more stingers have been used 
by A4alayans, natives of many Pacific islands, hunters in South and 
Central American Indian tribes, and Australian aborigines. Frightful 
whips made from the thorny, stinger-bearing tails of an African type 
of Sting ray have been seen by explorers along the Congo and in tropical 
West Africa. In Ceylon, Sting ray tails were used, until recent times, 
as whips for punishing criminals. They were also used in the Seychelles 
Archipelago of the Indian Ocean to keep wives in order! 

Sting rays are known and feared throughout the world. Huge schools 
of them invade many Australian beaches. They lie in the sand near 
shore, and when the tides retreat, the Sting rays (called Stingarees in 
Australia) also retreat, leaving behind numerous depressions in the wet 
sand. In 1938 an 18-year-old girl was killed in Auckland, Australia, 
when she was struck by a Stingaree whose sting, whipped by its power- 
ful tail, stabbed her left thigh— and then her heart. 

Some 30 species are known, all armed with one or more poisonous 
spines in their whip-like tails. Most Sting rays bear only a single sting, 
but several have two, or even three or more. The point, which may be 8 
to 15 inches long, is covered by a thin sheath that is pushed back toward 
its base when it is thrust into a victim. 

The stinger is hard and stiletto-shaped, with a sharp point. Its edge 
is fringed with tiny barbs that point back toward the base of the sting. 
Thus, when it enters, the barbs hold it in the wound and thwart easy 

This tail of a Spotted Duck-billed ray (Aetohatus narinari) bears 4 stings. The ray 
was captured off Beaufort, North Carolina. This ray often has more than one sting, 
each of which can inflict a venomous wound. Photo, E. w. Gudger 

268 Shark and Company 

removal. Along both edges of the underside of the stinger run two 
deep grooves. Within the grooves flows the venomous secretion, whose 
composition, chemically speaking, is little understood. There is no doubt 
today— as there once was— that venom is secreted by the stingers. But 
there is debate as to how this venom is injected into the Sting ray's 

In his Living Fishes of the World,'' Earl S, Herald, curator of the 
Steinhart Aquarium of the CaUfornia Academy of Sciences, tells of a 
study of more than 4,000 California Round Sting rays (Urolophus halleri). 
The study showed that 45 per cent of the Sting rays had lost their 
sheaths— and venom glands. "The larger and older the Sting Ray is, the 
greater is the possibility of its having lost the venom glands and pro- 
tective sheath," Herald wrote. "This explains why some people who 
have been stabbed by Sting Ray spines have received only mechanical 
injury without venom." 

Herald's findings do not agree with those of Dr. Bruce W. Halstead, 
a physician who is director of the World Life Research Institute and who 
was an instructor in tropical medicine at the U.S. Naval Medical School. 

Discussing the grooves of the stingers, Halstead writes in his Dan- 
gerous Marine Anirrmls:^ 

If these grooves are carefully examined, it will be observed that they contain 
a strip of soft, spongy, grayish tissue extending throughout the length of the 
grooves. The bulk of the venom is produced by this tissue in the grooves, 
although lesser amounts are believed to be produced by other portions of the 
integumentary sheath, and in certain specialized areas of the skin on the tail 
which lies adjacent to the spine. These grooves serve to protect the soft delicate 
glandular tissue which lies within them, and even though all of the integu- 
mentary sheath may be worn away, the venom-producing tissue continues to 
remain within these grooves. Thus, a perfectly clean-looking spine can still be 

Venomous or not, Sting ray wounds are inevitably painful, dangerous 
—and surprisingly common. Halstead estimates that about 1,500 Sting 
ray attacks are reported in the United States each year. Most victims 
are attacked after stepping on a Sting ray lying partially hidden in the 
mud near shore. If Sting rays are believed to be around, the safest way 
to walk into the water is while shuffling your feet. In this way you 
not only eliminate the possibility of stepping down on a Sting ray, you 
also drive them away by stirring up the bottom. 

Sting ray poison produces excruciating pain and even paralysis. Pierre 

" Earl S. Herald, Living Fishes of the World (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 

* Bruce W. Halstead, Dangerous Marine Anmials (Cambridge, Md.; Cornell Mari- 
time Press, 1959) . 

Selachians Extraordinary 269 

de Latil, a French naturalist, tells of two incidents that attest to the 
potency of the Sting ray's venom. One victim, "slightly scratched" on 
the thumb, suffered intense pain, high fever and, for three months, 
slight paralysis of the arm. Another, scratched on the arm, was in pain 
for two days. 

The sting is purely a defensive weapon and is not used to stun prey, 
despite Pliny's claim that the Sting ray "lies lurking in ambush and 
pierces the fish as they pass." The Sting ray feeds principally on worms, 
clams, and crustaceans— indeed, it often feeds so well that it eradicates 
oyster or clam beds. 

The best first aid for a Sting ray wound is to let it bleed for a few 
moments to flush out as much poison and sand as possible. Then wash 
the wound thoroughly, apply a mild antiseptic, and get to a doctor. 
Some old-time fishermen suggest applying very hot water as an imme- 
diate remedy for the pain. In a Florida case, Benadryl hydrochloride, 
penicillin, and an antitetanus drug were all administered by hypodermic 
30 minutes after a man was struck on the left palm by a Sting ray. 
But the treatment had no apparent effect. The victim reported "soreness" 
about the wound for more than a month. 

Sting rays have been seen in the open seas of the world's warm waters, 
and are plentiful in coastal shallows. Along some tropical shores, their 
abundance is graphically described by Bigelow and Schroeder as "in such 
great plenty that it may seem as though the bottom were almost paved 
with them." 

They come in three shapes— round, kite, and diamond— but the tails 
of all species are usually, although not always, long and whip-like. The 
sting— or stings— are on the upper side of the tail, usually about one 
third the distance from its base. 

Sting rays vary considerably in size. A small Atlantic species (Dasy- 
atis sabina Lesueur, 1824) matures at about 10 inches and apparently 
grows to only 20 inches or so in width. One of the largest is the Captain 
Cook's Stingaree of New Zealand and Australian waters (Dasyatis brevi- 
caiidata Hutton, 1875). It is named after Captain James Cook, who saw 
so many Sting rays while exploring Australia in 1770 that he named one 
of the bays, a few miles south of what was to become Sydney, Stingray 
Bay (later changed to Botanists', and finally Botany, Bay). 

Captain Cook's Stingaree, said to reach 14 feet in length and 6 to 7 
feet in width, is often described as the biggest Sting ray in the world. 
But a rival for this title exists in Atlantic waters— a Sting ray (Dasyatis 
centroura Mitchell, 1815) which is known to reach 5 feet in width and 
10 feet, 3 inches in length. A D. centroura caught in New Jersey was 
described by the highly reputable H. W. Fowler as nearly 7 feet across 
and, had its tail been complete, it would have been 13 to 14 feet long. 

270 Shark and Compa?iy 

Lesser Butterfly ray (Gymnura micrura). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

The big D. centroiira is found in the coastal waters of the western 
North Atlantic from Georges Bank and Cape Cod to Chesapeake Bay, 
to Cape Hatteras and possibly to Florida. The little D. sab'ma is com- 
monly found in shallow waters of the western North Atlantic, from 
Florida northward to Chesapeake Bay. It is also prevalent in the Gulf 
of Mexico, and— like many Sting rays— enters rivers. It has been caught 
more than 200 miles up the Mississippi River, and in Lakes Ponchartrain 
and Borgne, Louisiana, and in the lakes of the St. John River, Florida. 

Probably the most common Sting ray along the North American At- 
lantic Coast (Dasyatis sayi Lesueur, 1817) spends most of its time lying 
on the bottom near shore with only its eyes and spiracles exposed. It 
thus becomes a sort of aquatic land mine for the unwary wader who 
steps on it. These Sting rays, which grow to about 36 inches in width, 
are not always found on the bottom, however. During their annual 
migrations up the Atlantic Coast each summer, they often vigorously 
slap the surface of the water with their flapping pectorals and lashing 
tails. Sometimes a school of them will noisily sweep into a bay or an 
inlet, usually unnerving the bather who recognizes them. D. sayi is 
found from southern Brazil northward to Chesapeake Bay and Virginia, 
and sometimes New Jersey. It has also been reported occasionally as far 
north as Massachusetts. 

The American Pacific Coast is prowled by the Diamond (or Rat- 

Selachians Extraordinary 271 

Tailed) Sting ray {Dasyatis dipteniriis Jordan and Gilber, 1880), which 
ranges from British Columbia to Central America. It grows to 6 feet 
or more. In a U.S. National A4useum report, S. F. Hildebrand said of 
Sting ravs of this type and size: "These rays are considered very dan- 
gerous by the fishermen, and cases are on record where they have 
caused severe injury, if not death, to persons hit by the stings." 

Family G}'W7Z2/nJ^^— Butterfly Rays 

Flapping its wide pectorals like wings as it courses upward from 
its normal haunts at sea bottom, the Butterfly ray has the look of grace 
and beauty that inspires its name. Its body is unusually colorful for a 
ray. Gray, brown, purple, or green markings lace its back like filigree. 
On the bottom, its colors change, darkening on a black background, 
paling on a light background. And there, on the bottom, prowling 
for food, sluggishly moving with the tides, it colors muted, the Butter- 
fly ray is as dull to behold as a butterfly still locked in its cocoon. 

The Lesser Butterfly ray {Gymnura micrura Bloch and Schneider, 
1801), is known in coastal waters from Brazil to Maryland and occa- 
sionally is found as far north as southern New England. Off Galveston, 
Texas, and in the lower parts of Chesapeake Bay (where it is known under 
the misnomer of Sand skate), it is fairly abundant. 

A Pacific Coast version {Gymnura marmorata Cooper, 1863) is 
called the Butterfly Sting ray because at the end of its diminutive tail 
there is a sting. G. micrura doesn't have a barb, but its rarer, larger 
Atlantic Coast relative, the Giant Butterfly ray {GyiJinura altavela Lin- 
naeus, 1758) has one or more. The Lesser Butterfly ray grows to a 
breadth of 3 to 4 feet; the Giant is believed to attain a breadth of more 
than 1 2 feet; the Butterfly Sting ray at maturity is 4 to 5 feet wide. 

The family includes two genera: the Gy?miura, whose species, found 
in the Red Sea, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean, have 
no dorsal fins on their tail, and the Aetoplatea, whose species are 
found off South Africa, in the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the East 
Indies, and have small dorsal fins. Another example of the curious ways 
in which Selachians develop minor, enigmatic differences. 

Family Urolophidae—KovND Sting Rays 

These Sting rays differ from the Dasyatidae in two basic ways: they 
are smaller (usually 30 inches long at most), and they have short, stout, 
and rather muscular tails. Sometimes they are classed with the Dasya- 

The Pacific Round Sting ray mentioned earlier in the description of 
venom (Urolophus halleri) is, strictly speaking, a member of this family. 
U. Halleri, the commonest California Sting ray, is found from Monterey 


Shark and CoiJipany 


'jftrtocjotjf 1'-; itifc^^^ 

Round Sting ray ( Urolophus jamaicensis ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

Bay to Panama Bay. It is one of about 19 Urolophidae members known 
in the Pacific. 

The principal Atlantic Round Sting ray (Urolophus jamaicensis Cu- 
vier, 1817) is very similar to U. halleri. It is known to grow to about 
12 to 13 inches wide and about 26 inches long. U. jamaicensis is usu- 
ally found in shallow waters with muddy or sandy bottoms. It gets its 
species name from its prevalence in Jamaican waters, where fishermen 
are said to dread it particularly. It is common in the Caribbean— West 
Indian area, among the Florida Keys, along both coasts of southern Flor- 
ida, and it has been reported as far north as North Carolina. 

Family Myliobatidae—KAGi.E Rays 
The lozenge-shaped Eagle rays, a large family that has members in 
tropical and temperate seas throughout the world, bear venomous stings 
in their long, whip-like tails. They are large— some reaching 7 to 8 feet 
in breadth and weighing up to 800 pounds. 

The Eagle ray of the western Atlantic (Myliobatis freminvilli Le- 
sueur, 1824) is known to grow to about 3 feet in width. It is found from 
Cape Cod to Brazil, appearing in the northern end of its range in the 
warmer months. 

A similar Eagle ray (Myliobatis calif ornicus Gill, 1865), more com- 
monly called the Bat ray or the Bat Sting ray, is found along the Ameri- 
can Pacific Coast from Oregon to and into the Gulf of California. The 

Selachians Extraordinary 273 

Pacific Eagle ray's appetite for oysters has inspired the erection of sea- 
bottom fences by Pacific oystermen. These fences are made by driving 
stakes about 6 inches apart so that the wide-winged rays cannot squeeze 
through. These hungry rays, equipped with pavement-Hke teeth well 
suited for crushing oyster shells, also attack clam beds. Lionel A. Wal- 
ford, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reporting on the Eagle ray's 
clam-digging technique, said that it "swims along the bottom until it 
meets the currents of water expelled by the siphons of clams. It then 
flaps its pectoral fins, creating a suction which digs out the clams. Some- 
times it fiaps along in this manner for considerable distances, leaving 
behind a barren trough." 

Though Eagle rays are commonly not believed to be abundant along 
the Atlantic or the Pacific coasts of America, schools of several thou- 
sand have been reported at times in the waters of Lower California. 

Studies of the embryo of M. calijornicus have solved the puzzle of 
how female Sting rays bring forth their sting-bearing young without 
being stung themselves. The pup's sting is pliable and covered with a 
sheath that is sloughed off soon after birth, so that, like all other Sela- 
chians, the newborn Eagle ray is immediately ready to defend itself. 

The venom-bearing Duck-Billed rays are also included in the Mylio- 
batidae family. The Spotted Duck-Billed ray {Aetobatiis narinari Eu- 
phrasen, 1790), a big, speckled creature, is found not only on both sides 
of the Atlantic, but also in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, and the Red 

Spotted Duck-billed ray (Aetohatus narinari). 

Courtesy, Miami Seaqiiarium 


Shark and Company 

Sea. It weighs up to at least 500 pounds, is known to reach 7% feet 
from wing-tip to wing-tip— and it carries as many as 5 stings at the 
base of its long tail. 

Russell J. Coles, who studied the sharks and rays in North Carolina 
waters for many years, told of a Spotted Duck-Billed ray which "sud- 
denly threw its body against me and drove its poisoned sting into my 
leg above the knee for more than two inches, striking the bone, and 
producing instantly a pain more horrible than I had thought possible that 
man could suffer." He treated the wound immediately and recovered. 

Coles also reported that "in giving birth to its young, the female ray 
leaps high in the air." Although ichthyologists are generally skeptical 
about suggestions that these rays— or any other— find it necessary to 
leap into the air to give birth, there is no doubt about the Spotted 
Duck-Billed ray's prowess as a jumper. In fact, in Australia it is some- 
times called the Jumping ray. 

The Spotted Duck-Billed ray (also known as the Spotted Whip ray 
and the Spotted Eagle ray) seems to use its peculiar projecting mandible 
as a spade to dig out shellfish from sandy bottoms. With its powerful 
jaws, it cracks clamshells and extracts the clams so efficiently that it can 
swallow the clams intact. Like several other species of ray, the Spotted 
Duck-Billed sometimes lets out a sound resembling a bark when cap- 

Family Rhinopteridae—Cow-l<^osED Rays 
The odd, bovine nose of these rays sets them apart from the other 
larger rays, though they have the familiar winged shape. All of the 


Cow-nosed ray (Rhinoptera honasus) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

Selachians Extraord'mary 275 

species in tiiis family, since they resemble one another so closely, are 
placed in a single genus, Rhi?ioptera. 

The principal Cow-Nosed ray of the Atlantic {Rh'moptera bofiasus 
Mitchell, 1815) grows to a maximum of 7 feet in breadth and has been 
reported to weigh as much as 100 pounds; generally, however, it is in the 
25- to 70-pound range. It bears one or two barbs near the base of its 
long, thin tail. It is found along the coast of the western Atlantic, from 
southern New England to Brazil. Occasionally, large schools of Cow- 
Nosed rays appear at various places along its range. Another similar 
Cow-Nosed ray (Rhinoptera brasiliensis Miiller and Henle, 1841) is found 
along the western South American coast. Other species are known in the 
coastal waters of the tropical and warm-temperate areas of all oceans. 

A fatal attack by a Cow-Nosed ray {Rh'moptera javanica) was re- 
ported in 1936 by A. F. Umali of the Philippine Department of Agri- 
culture and Commerce. Large numbers of these rays sweep into Manila 
Bay during their breeding season. During one of these runs, Umali re- 
ported, "a fisherman from Bataan succumbed to a wound inflicted in the 
region of the stomach by the spine of this ray." 

Family Mo bulidae— Devil Rays 
Spangles of sunlight glitter on the silent blue of the sea. Suddenly, 
from out of the depths flashes a glistening giant, its huge, sleek body 
catapulting clear of the riven waters. With a thunderous sound, the giant 
crashes back to the surface and vanishes beneath it. The sea is silent 

Those who have seen this sight will never forget it. They have seen 
a Giant Devil ray (Manta birostris Donndorff, 1798), a true monster 
of the deep, which grows to a breadth of 20 feet or more and often 
weighs more than 3,000 pounds. The Giant Devil ray, or Manta, and 
its smaller close relatives in the Mobitlidae family, seem to have aband- 
oned the bottomlands prowled by other rays for the more exhilarating 
life at or near the surface of the sea. Several of them have been seen at 
the same time, leaping as high as 5 feet above the surface, possibly to 
rid their huge bodies of hordes of parasites. Sometimes they somersault, 
breaking surface head-first, then revolving on edge in a spectacular 
cartwheel, with one pectoral fin emerging while the other is descending 
back into the sea. 

The power that produces such awesome calisthenics also is sum- 
moned up when a Giant Devil ray is harpooned. One monster 22 feet 
in breadth towed a 25-foot motorboat more than 10 miles, with the 
boat's anchor dragging on the bottom part of the time. After 5 hours 
it was still alive, though four harpoons and several rifle bullets were 
imbedded in its body- 

276 Shark and Covipany 

Texas, of course, claims the record for the number of boats towed by 
a Giant Devil ray. The record is based on an account of the harpooning 
of such a ray off Port Aransas. The ray, it's said, sped off with 14 boats 
strung out behind it. 

The Devil ray family— so called because of their cephalic fins, which, 
when rolled and projected forward, have the appearance of horns- 
ranges the world. They are found in the warm-temperate zones of all 
oceans, and the Mediterranean. Of their common names— Devil ray. 
Devil fish, Manta— undoubtedly Manta is the best known in the English- 
speaking world. 

Aiantas throughout the world are similar in their habits. They leap; 
they live near the surface; they all apparently take in water for res- 
piration through their mouths instead of through their spiracles, which 
are relatively small. This latter characteristic appears to set them apart 
from all other Batoids. 

But there are also great differences between the half-dozen or so 
known species of Mantas. The family is divided into three genera on the 
basis of an odd distinction: Mobula, species that have teeth in both 
jaws; Ceratobatis, species that have teeth in the upper jaw only; Manta, 
species that have teeth in the lower jaw only (Also, both Mobula and 
Ceratobatis species have mouths on the lower surface of the head; 
Manta species have mouths at the end of and extending across the head.) 

The Lesser Devil ray, or Manta {Mobula hypostoma Bancroft, 1831), 
is found in the coastal waters of the western Atlantic, from Brazil to 
North Carolina and occasionally to New Jersey. It has also been reported 
along the coast of Senegal, West Africa. It grows to a width of about 4 

Russell Coles, in his many observations of Selachians along the North 
Carolina coast, frequently reported on these Lesser Devil rays. Once 
he saw several of them pursuing a school of minnows and "rushing right 
up on the sand . . . until their bodies were nearly half out of water; 
but in an instant they were off and scattered out to sea." Coles said that 
the Mantas kept their cephalic fins rolled until they neared the minnows. 
Then the fins "open, and, meeting below the mouth, form a funnel, 
through which the 'minnows' are carried into the mouth. On the instant 
that this rush is over these fins again close up tightly." 

The cephalic fins which stick out from the Manta's head like stumpy 
arms are said to close instantly around anything that touches the front 
of its head. Reportedly, through this reflex action, a school of Mantas 
once supposedly affixed themselves to the posts of a fence that ran out 
into shallow water. Occasionally, too, they may grasp an anchor line in 
this way, possibly trying to clean off parasites. The grasping power of 
the cephalic fins is really quite limited and weak, according to those 

Selachians Extraord'mary 


who have handled them, however. There is no known case of anyone 
being grabbed by the cephaHc fins and dragged to his death. It is, how- 
ever, possible that a harpooned Devil ray could upset a small boat, hurl 
its occupant into the sea, and fall upon him. 

Mantas have been seen mating. Again we turn to Coles and his in- 
valuable reports for an account. He once saw a pair of Lesser Devil rays 
{Mobida hypostonia), the male's back just showing above the surface, 
its wing-like pectoral fins curved upward; the white underside of the 

This drawing by Russell Coles shows how a harpooned Manta somersaulted from the 
sea, and "violently ejected" an embryo. Then, as the embryo opened its pectorals and 
fell toward the sea, the mother "disappeared beneath the surface." 

female just below the male. "Copulation," Coles reported, "was not 
accomplished by a vertical motion, but by a graceful, serpentine lateral 
curvature of the spine, as the male alternately advanced one of his 
mixoptery gia (claspers) as he withdrew the other." The union was not 
continuous. Occasionally the two separated, swam around in leisurely 
curves or lustily leaped toward the sky, and then resumed their rhythmic 

.Manta young are said to be born, sometimes at least, during the 
mother's great leaps from the sea. Coles witnessed such a birth, which 
may have been brought on by the harpooning of the mother. (Some 
authorities believe that Selachian mothers may sometimes abort their 
young as a last, desperate act during or after capture. A more likely 
explanation of these death-throe births is that the captive was about to 
drop her pups anyway, and the shock of capture brought about a slightly 
premature birth.) 

In the case Coles described, he said: 


Shark and Company 

Almost immediately after being struck by the harpoon, the Manta made the 
side wise revolution alongside the boat, and just before the tail had reached the 
perpendicular, an embryo was violently ejected to a distance of about four feet. 
The embryo appeared tail first, folded in cylindrical form, but it instantly 
unfolded and its pectorals, moving in bird manner, retarded its descent until 
the mother fish had disappeared beneath the surface. I was almost in the act of 
securing the embryo when it was swept below by a pectoral of the large male 
mate which was near the big female. 

Mantas of the genus Mobiila are divided generally into four species, 
distinguished by their possession or lack of a tail sting. M. hypostoma 
does not have one. The less common Atlantic species {Mobula mobular 
Bonnaterre, 1788) has one; it is found chiefly in the Mediterranean, and 
in the eastern Atlantic from Ireland to Spain, Portugal, the Azores, the 
Canaries, and tropical West Africa. Such a difference is also found in the 
two Pacific-Indian Ocean species: M. japanica, which has a tail spine, 
and M. diabola, which does not have one. 

M. diabola (called the Ox ray. Smaller Devil ray, and Diamond fish 
in Australia) is the midget of the Mobulidae family, growing to only 
about 2 feet in width. 

A Giant De\il ray (Manta birostris) is walked around a tank at the Miami Seaquarium 
to acclimate it to captive life. This young Manta, as it is also called, weighs 1,000 
pounds. Its two common names stem from its physical characteristics. Manta, Spanish 
for "cloak," describes the ray's broad body. Devil comes from the horn-like cephalic 
fins, which form a funnel to channel food into its maw as it swims along the surface. 

Courtesy, Miami Seaquarium 

Selachians Extraordinary 279 

The giant of all modern rays (Ma?ita birostris) is found in the tropi- 
cal and subtropical waters of the oceans of both the Northern and the 
Southern Hemispheres. In American waters, it has been reported from 
Brazil to the Carolinas, and occasionally to New England and Georges 
Bank; along the American West Coast, it has been captured as far north 
as Redondo Beach, California. 

Giant Manta rays are frequently tormented giants. Minute parasites 
infest the inner side of the Devil ray's horns, and large parasitic crus- 
taceans, usually Isopods, lodge in its jaws. The German zoologist Hans 
Hass, who has closely observed many Devil rays underwater, believes 
that a type of parasite-eating Pilot fish swims in and near the Devil 
ray's jaws, serving as a living cleaner for its host and, in return for 
devouring the parasites, is not itself devoured. 

The female Giant Devil ray apparently carries a single embryo, often 
of formidable size. The biggest embryos on record include one 50 
inches wide and weighing 20 pounds, and another weighing 28 pounds 
which was 45 inches wide. 


Every old, established family has its eccentrics, and the Selachian 
family is no exception. Among the Selachians, sharks mostly look like 
sharks, and the skates and rays look like skates and rays. But there are 
four eccentric groups within the Selachian ranks. These groups— tech- 
nically classified as families— include Selachians that do not look like 
typical skates or rays and yet do not look like typical sharks, either. 
They are apparent links— not missing, but present, for they are found 
today in all the oceans of the world. 

We will introduce them— Guitarfishes, Sawfishes, Saw Sharks, and 
Angel sharks— by families. The first two are Batoids and don't look it, 
while the latter two are sharks and look equally misleading. 

Family R^mo^^^ii^^— Guitarfishes 
Appearing part shark, part ray, the Guitarfish is really a Batoid and 
only seems to be hovering between the two great branches of the 
Selachian family. Little is known of its habits. The Guitarfish obviously 
gets its name from the shape of its head and moderately flattened body, 
which combine to give it the general appearance of a guitar. The French, 
who always seem to see things a little differently from everyone else 
think the Guitarfish looks more like a violin, and so they call it violoii 
de mer. The musical-name theme has another variation in Australia, 
where some Guitarfishes are called Fiddler rays and Banjo sharks. 

The Spotted Guitarfish {Rhinobatos lentiginosus Garman, 1880) is 

280 Shark and Company 


A Guitarfish {Rhinobatus lentiginosus). Bottom view, bottom; top view, top. 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

typical of the 30-odd known species of Guitarfish found in the coastal 
waters of most warm seas in the world. It is one of the commonest 
Guitarfishes found in the Atlantic, though so sparse is information about 
it that its full adult size is not known. It may grow to several feet in 
length, but the largest recorded specimen was 30 inches long. It ranges 
western Atlantic coastal waters from Yucatan to Cape Lookout, North 
Carolina. Another Atlantic species, the Southern Guitarfish {Rhifiobatos 
percelle?is Walbaum, 1792), which closely resembles R. lentiginosus, 
is found from northern Argentina to the Caribbean, and has also been 
reported off tropical West Africa. A third Atlantic species (Zapteryx 
brevirostris Miiller and Henle, 1841) which has been taken in Brazilian 
coastal waters, is noteworthy because its body is heart-shaped. 

The commonest Pacific Coast Guitarfish is the Shovel-Nose guitar- 
fish (Rhinobatos productus Girard, 1855), which is known to grow 
to about 4 feet in length. It is found from central California south to 
and into the Gulf of California. 

Guitarfishes are found in the tropical and warm-temperate coastal 
waters of all oceans. They have also been reportedly found in fresh 
waters in Australia, though details are lacking on these incursions from 
the sea. The largest Guitarfish on record (Rhynchobatus djiddensis 
Forskal, 1775) is found in the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. It has 
been reported to reach 10 feet in length and 500 pounds in weight. 
Many Guitarfish grow to a maximum size of 5 or 6 feet. 

Like the rays, the Guitarfish are ovoviviparous; unlike the rays, the 

Selachians Extraordinary 281 

Guitarfish swim by propelling themselves with their tails. (Their pec- 
toral fins are merely used as planes to raise, lower, or turn their bodies.) 
The underside, containing the gills, is flattened like a skate or a ray. This 
duality persists in its habits— sometimes, like a skate or a ray, it lies 
half-buried in the sand or mud; other times, it swims, though usually 
hugging the bottom. 

Except for oystermen who accuse the Guitarfish of devouring oyster 
and clam beds by burrowing through them at a gluttonous pace, and 
ichthyologists who are intrigued by the Guitarfish's biological oddity, 
not many people are interested in the Guitarfish. Game fishermen look 
upon them with little interest, too, for often a hook and line is not even 
needed to get them; they lie in shallow water and can be plucked from 
the sea by the tail. They are scooped up in nets near shore by fishermen 
in India, where they are called Plowfish because their burrowing along 
the bottom often leaves furrows on the ocean floor. 

Family Pri^^/W^^— Sawfishes 

The Sawfish is one of the strange forms generated by the mysterious 
evolutionary forces which have molded so many other curious types 
of Selachians. Its long, flat snout resembles a saw with wide-spaced 
teeth. These teeth— 16 to 32 on each side of the "blade," depending on 
the species— are actually specialized dermal denticles. 

(Unlike the teeth found in the mouths of sharks, the saw teeth on 
the Sawfish's snout are deeply and firmly embedded in sockets in the 
hard cartilaginous "saw." This may be an evolutionary development, for 
the fossil remains of some prehistoric Sawfish do not have sockets for 
the saw teeth, which were then apparently only attached to the skin.) 
These saw teeth are sharp, and, according to reliable reports, can be 
lethal. Sawfish are particularly feared in Panama City Bay, where several 

A Sawfish ( Pristis clavata ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

282 Shark and Company 

fatal attacks on men have been reported. Dr. Francis Day, an eminent 
authority on the fishes of India, spoke long ago of a report that a bather 
was cut in half by the slashes of a Sawfish. A more modern eye-witness 
account of a Sawfish attack is given by the writer A. Hyatt Verrill:^ 

. . . While on the coast of Yucatan, one of my men waded into shallow 
water, armed with a small fish spear, in search of octopus which the natives 
consider a great dainty. Suddenly, he uttered a howl of pain, and, floundering 
about, jabbed downward with his weapon. A moment later, he came splashing 
ashore, a three-foot Sawfish impaled on his spear, and the calf of his leg torn 
and lacerated by the saw-teeth of the fish which had attacked him without the 
least provocation. In this particular case, the wounds were not serious, for the 
"saw" of the fish was barely eight inches in length while the teeth along its 
edges were scarcely larger than the blade of a small scalpel . . . 

Verrill's companion was lucky. He was attacked by a mere baby, 
for 20-foot Sawfish with wicked-looking saws 6 feet long are not rare. 
Sawfish are reported from southeast Asia to grow to 30 feet in length, 
with saws accounting for one fourth to one third their length. An 
Australian species, the Green sawfish {Fristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851), is 
known to reach a length of 24 feet and is described as dangerous when 
cornered. A 17-foot Sawfish caught off^ the Texas coast weighed 1,300 
pounds, and a West Indian monster of unrecorded length had an esti- 
mated weight of 5,300 pounds. 

Speculation has been going on for centuries about the manner in 
which the Sawfish uses its weapon. The sixteenth-century naturalist, 
Olaus Magnus, Archbishop of Upsala in Sweden, reported that the 
Sawfish "will swim under the ships, and cut them, that the water may 
come in, and he may feed upon the men when the ship is drowned." 
And the eighteenth-century English naturalist, John Lathan, told of "a 
battle between several Sawfishes and a whale, when all of them attacking 
the whale at once, soon became victorious." Needless to say, further 
study was indicated! 

Not until a few years ago, however, did any scientist have an op- 
portunity to study the Sawfish closely and extensively. The observations 
were made by C. M. Breder, Jr., on a Sawfish (Pristis pectinatus 
Latham, 1794) in a retaining pen at the Lerner Marine Laboratory on 
Bimini Island in the Bahamas. The Sawfish was fed small fish or pieces 
of larger fish. When food was placed on the bottom, the Sawfish swam 
over it and, like a skate, picked it up with its slit-like mouth. When 
food floated on the surface or fell down through the water, the Saw- 
fish struck at it sidewise and impaled it on one of its saw teeth. Then it 

^ A. Hyatt Verrill, Strange Fish and Their Stories (Boston: L. C. Page & Co., 

Selachiajis Extraordinary 


A Sawfish (Pristis pectinatus) in a retaining pen at the Lerner Marine Laboratory in 
Bimini strikes a floating fish with its "saw" and impales it. Note the wake of the "saw," 
which indicates the precise arc of the Sawfish's strike. (Photo by F. G. Wood.) 

Courtesy, COPEIA 

swam to the bottom, scraped the food off its "tooth" by rubbing it along 
the bottom and swiftly swam over it to devour it. A Sawfish's mouth 
is located on its bottom side, aft of the "saw." 

But even a Sawfish can learn the ways of an arrogant mendicant. 
Breder reported: 

Within three weeks . . . the Sawfish had become more accommodated to 
life in captivity and changed its behavior considerably. When the time arrived 
for the feeder to appear, the fish would swim slowlv about the surface, often in 
a vertical direction with about one-half of its "saw" protruding through the 
surface. This would be wigwagged back and forth in a manner that made 
various of the non-biological observers suppose it was beckoning to its keeper. 
When a fish was tossed to it, more often than not, it would lazily pass its saw 
over and about the fish with no effort at impalement, suggesting that it was 
merely investigating the offered food. Following this it would often simply 
swim over the dead fish and engulf it at the surface. Evidently in the intervening 
period it had learned that impalement was unnecessary and there was no danger 
of the fish swimming away. An hour's delay in feeding was all that was neces- 
sary to revive its original energetic attacks on food objects. 

In the more demanding realm of the open sea, where fish have to 
work for their food, the Sawfish sometimes rises up amid schools of fish. 

284 Shark and Company 

slashing out with its saw to stun or kill its prey. Stories that the Sawfishes 
attack whales have no basis, and there is substantial scientific skepticism 
about tales of Sawfish "sawing" large chunks of flesh from the bodies 
of large fish. The fact is that when Sawfishes aren't attacking schools 
of small fish, they can be found grubbing around the bottom. They use 
their saws to poke in the mud and sand, and they often wear down the 
tips of their saw teeth at this task. 

Sawfish bodies are long, their tails powerful— and they swim as 
sharks do, by swishing their tails and the aft part of their bodies. But 
they are classified as rays, primarily because their gill slits are on their 
underside. Sawfish bring forth their young alive. Many young are born 
at one time. In one female 15% feet long, 23 young were found. The 
pup's needle-sharp saw teeth are encased in a membrane and the "saw" 
itself is like soft leather at birth. Soon after birth, the sheath is sloughed 
off, and the newborn Sawfish is able to slash— or grub— for food. 

The Common sawfish (Pristis pectmatus Latham, 1794) is found in 
the Gulf of Mexico and in tropical and subtropical Atlantic waters, 
close to shore, from equatorial West Africa to the Mediterranean in the 
east; from mid-Brazil to northern Florida in the West. It is also found in 
the Gulf of Mexico and is occasionally reported as far north as New 
York. It is known to grow to at least 18 feet in length; a 16-footer 
weighed 700 pounds. It enters the St. Johns River of Florida quite fre- 

A larger, heavier, Atlantic species, the Southern sawfish (Pristis 
perotteti Miiller and Henle, 1841), is believed to reach 20 feet in length- 
including a 4-foot saw— and some 1,300 pounds in weight. This Sawfish 
also has an apparent predilection for fresh water. 

P. perotteti has been caught at Parintins, Brazil, some 450 miles up 
the Amazon, and it has taken up apparently permanent residence in Lake 
Nicaragua in Nicaragua, home of the notorious Lake Nicaragua shark 
(Carcharhinus nicaraguensis). Sawfish weighing up to 700 pounds have 
been caught in the lake, where they have also been seen giving birth. 

In Thailand, Sawfish regularly swim up rivers. A 26-footer (Pristis 
cuspidatus Latham, 1794) with an 8-foot saw was caught in the Tachin 
River there, and a 46-footer (P. microdon Latham, 1794) was reportedly 
caught in the Chao Phya River, 37 miles from the sea. 

The saws of the Thai Sawfish are popular votive offerings among 
Thai fishermen, who bring them to the temples, where they are ex- 
hibited to the delight not only of local gods but also of visiting ichthy- 
ologists, who have found them invaluable for determining the probable 
size, habitat, and species of local Sawfish. 

The eastern Atlantic sawfish (P. pristis Linnaeus, 1785), which is 
also found in the Mediterranean, has been reported in the Zambesi River 

Selachians Extraordinary 


and several other rivers of Africa. One Australian species (P. leichhardti 
Whitley, 1945) is said to be found primarily in rivers rather than in salt 

Family Squatinidae— Angel Sharks 
A gaudy, flat-bodied shark with an ecclesiastical history, the Angel 
shark seems to be a shark which is morphologically on its way toward 
becoming a Batoid. If you can imagine a long line of various species 
of sharks gradually tending toward the flattened form of the skates 
and rays, the last one in the Une would be the Angel shark. It is still 
a shark, but it appears close to losing its shark credentials and being 
transferred to Batoid ranks. 

It is classified as a shark for several anatomical reasons, which include: 
its pectoral fins are not attached to its head; its gill slits are not wholly 
on the underside of its body, but curve upward to the sides of its neck; 
its sharklike eyelids are free (the upper eyeHds of Batoids are not free). 

Pious medieval observers of this shark's outline saw its pectorals as 
wings and its tapering body and tail as angelic robes. They named it an 
Angel. Later, it became a Monk. And finally it was dubbed a Bishop. 
(An Australian species, ornately dappled with denticles, managed to be- 
come an Archbishop.) Writing about this "blessed" shark in 1558, the 
early ichthyologist Rondelet imaginatively reported: 

In our time in Norway a sea-monster has been taken after a great storm, to 
which all who saw it at once gave the name of monk, for it had a man's face. 


An Angel shark {Squatina calif ornica) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

286 Shark and Company 

rude and ungracious, the head smooth and shorn. On the shoulders, Uke the 
cloak of a monk, were two long fins in place of arms, and the end of the body 
was finished by a long tail ... I have seen a portrait of another sea-monster 
at Rome, whither it had been sent with letters that affirmed for certain that in 
1531 one had seen this monster in a bishop's garb, as here portrayed, in Poland. 
Carried to the king of that country, it made certain signs that it had a great 
desire to return to the sea. Being taken thither, it threw itself instantly into the 

Today's Angel shark is seldom mistaken for a bishop or even for a 
monk. But the fisherman in continental U.S. waters who catches an 
Angel shark may nevertheless be confounded, for it is relatively rare. 

The western Atlantic Angel shark (Sqiiatina dumeril Lesueur, 1818) 
reaches 4 or 5 feet in length; a 4-footer is known to weigh about 60 
pounds. S. dumeril^ usually seen close to shore, has been known to 
wander 75 or 80 miles offshore. It is found from southern New England 
to southern Florida, and along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. 
It visits the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States in the summer. Its 
haunts include the waters of Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and the 
bays of the southern shore of Long Island. 

S. dumeril closely resembles its eastern Atlantic relative (Squatina 
sqiiatina Linnaeus, 1758), although S. sqiiat'ma has been reported to 
reach 8 feet and up to 170 pounds. S. squatina is said to be relatively 
plentiful in European Atlantic waters and in the Mediterranean. 

There are about 10 known species, all generally grouped into one 
genus because of their similarity. The western Pacific species {S. cali- 
fornica Ayres, 1859) ranges from southeastern Alaska to Mexico, and 
possibly to Peru and Chile. Like S. dumeril, it is known to attain a 5-foot 
length and to weigh about 60 pounds. Other species are found in South 
African waters, and off Australia, Japan, and Korea. 

Family Pristiophoridae—SAW Sharks 
Although their saw-toothed snouts give them a seemingly indis- 
putable close relationship to Sawfishes, the Pristiophoridae—the Saw 
sharks— are true sharks. The Sawfish is no more related to the Saw shark 
than it is to any other shark. 

Despite the saw-snout resemblance between Sawfishes and Saw sharks, 
there are many differences between them. The Saw shark, for example, 
has its five or six gill openings on the sides of its body, the mark of the 
shark; the Sawfish's gill openings are on the bottom of its body, the mark 
of the Batoid. The mutual possession of a saw-snout is, however, a clear 
case of a parallel adaptation to life. One strange difference between 
their snouts is the Saw shark's pair of barbels, or feelers, that droop on 
either side of its saw (like a Fu Manchu mustache) and can trail the 
bottom when it is searching for food. 

Selachimis Extraordinary 




A Saw shark ( Pristiophorus nudipinnis ) . 

Courtesy, Gilbert P. Whitley 

There are four known species of Saw sharks. Three species belong 
to the genus Fristiophorus, whose members have five gill openings. Flio- 
trema has only one known species {zvarreni), and has six gill openings. 
Pristiophorus species are found in the waters of South Africa, Australia, 
the Philippines, Japan, and Korea. Fliotrema warreni is found in South 
African waters. 

Fristiophorus cirratus Latham, 1794, said to grow to more than 4 
feet, is described as common in Australian waters. Gilbert P. Whitley, 
the Australian shark authority, reports that this Saw shark's saw-teeth 
"lie flat against the side of the snout before birth so that the saw shall 
not injure the mother." 

A rule for the curious: Fristids (Sawfish) and Rhinobatids (Guitar- 
fish) are "links" in a sense, but they are unquestionably Batoids by 
definition of the group for the following reasons: 

1. Gill openings confined to ventral surface. 

2. Edges of pectoral fins attached to sides of head anterior to gill open- 

3. Upper margin of orbit not free from eyeball (no free eyelid). 

Likewise, the Squatinids (Angel sharks) and Fristophorids (Saw 
sharks) are true tiburoids (or Sharks proper) by definition of the group 
for the following reasons: 

1. Gill openings at least partly lateral. 

2. Edges of pectoral fins not attached to sides of head anterior to gill 

3. Upper margin of orbit free from eyeball (eyelid free). 

These are the links, the curious, difficult-to-classify Selachians which, 
whatever else their role, serve as the interlocutors between their two 
branches of kinfolk, the Batoids— and the Sharks. 


Shark and Company 


The Selachians have a sort of natural "appendix"— a group of very 
strange animals known as the Chimaeras, a name derived from the old 
Greek work Khimaros meaning a goat, the female form of which was 
Khimaira (Kim-eye-ra). Primitive Greek mythology sported a bogey 
said to have a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail, to which 
the name Khimairon was given, and this word in time came to be ap- 
plied to any creature that seemed to be made up of parts of different 
known animals. Thus, it was readily applied to these fish by mariners. 

The Chimaeroids {Ky-meer'oids) seem to form a bridge between 
the Selachians and the Teleosts, but there is strong evidence that, while 

A Long-nosed chimaera (Harriotta raleighana). 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and WiUiam C. Schroeder, 1953 

they are descended from the former, they are not the ancestors of the 
latter. These strange fish, called Ghost sharks, Spookfish, Ratfish, or 
Chimaeras, have the cartilaginous skeleton and claspers of Selachians, 
and the covered gill openings— the familiar gills— of Teleosts. The males 
also have a third clasper on their foreheads. This bizarre structure, 
unique among known fishes, is believed to be used in some way in 
mating, but its definite use is still an ichthyological mystery. All the 
Chimaeroids are oviparous, laying large (some are I6V2 inches long) 
egg cases, some of which are tadpole-shaped. 

According to most authorities, Chimaeras are not, as they seem to be, 
links between Selachians and Teleosts. The theory of their place in the 
phylogenetic spectrum is best stated by Bashford Dean, who made a 
long study of this odd breed. In 1908 he wrote: 

From an examination of their fossils, anatomy and embryology, the conclu- 
sion is reached that they are to be classed not as ancestral sharks, but rather as 
a group highly divergent from some early shark stem. The few undeniably 
primitive features which they possess are heirlooms from some Palaeozoic 
Selachian ancestor— features which modern sharks have not as well conserved. 

Selachians Extraordinary 289 

Chimaeras, which are not known to grow to more than 5 feet, are 
usually divided into about 28 species distributed among three families. 
The most common family, Chi?naeridae, encompasses short-nosed, long- 
tailed species possessing venomous spines in front of their first dorsal 
fins. The Rhi?iochimaeridae family is devoted to the long-nosed species. 
The third family, Callorhinchidae, includes the weird-looking Elephant 
fish (also waggishly called the Southern Beauty in Australia). All mem- 
bers of this family have flexible noses which resemble the elephant's 


Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

/ FIN 



















External features of sharks. 


chapter 11 

The Sharks 
Part One 

Sharks they are, all of them— immense 
and tiny, coastal and pelagic, familiar 
and bizarre, sleek and cumbersome, rare and abundant. It is a vast and 
varied host, with its 350 or more species swimming in every sea. 

But within this diversity there are clusters of similarity, groups of 
sharks that resemble one another enough to be placed in the same 
family. Some families are veritable clans, encompassing numerous species 
and spanning the seas of all the world. Other families can muster but 
one known species. Such is the case of the: 

Family Chlamy doselachidae— ¥rii.i,ed Sharks 

Dr. Samuel Garman, who made a virtually life-long study of the 
shark, once said of the Frilled shark that it "stands nearer the true fish 
than do the sharks proper." Because of its primitive form and look of 
antiquity, Garrhan considered it "the living representative" of the pre- 
histoiic Cladodiis, which had vanished from the earth eons before. 

Carman's nineteenth-century classification, since revised on the basis 
of modern knowledge of fossil sharks, dramatized the primeval nature of 
the Frilled shark, a six-gilled shark that is set apart from all other six-gilled 
species— and indeed from all other known modern sharks— by the ex- 
ceedingly archaic arrangement of its first gill opening. This opening is a 
slit that extends continuously across its throat, from one side of its head 
to the other. 

With its odd, frilled collar, its long, slender body and its reptilian 
head, the Frilled shark looks more like a strange sea snake than a shark— 
at least at first glance. Its single dorsal fin is small and is placed near its 
tail, which is practically a single long upper lobe; the lower lobe is 
almost invisible. 

The only known species of Frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus angui- 
?2eiis Garman, 1884) has been found in the waters of Japan and in the 
eastern Atlantic, from Portugal to Norway.^ Two have been caught off 

1 Two were caught in British waters within little more than a year, the magazine 
Nature reported in November, 1962. They were caught at depths of more than 1,600 



Shark and Compafiy 

Frilled shark {Chlamydoselachus anguineus). 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

California. A deep-water shark which feeds on squid and octopus, 
the Frilled shark is ovoviviparous. The gestation of its young has been 
estimated to be as long as 2 years. The largest known specimen was 
nearly 6^ feet long. 

Family Hexanchidae—Six-G\i.i.^Y) Sharks and 
Seven-Gilled Sharks 

Like the Frilled shark, these sharks are primitive creatures. Their 
long, slim bodies still display vestiges of some features of most ancient 
species: six or seven gill slits— and a single dorsal fin. Of the many known 
species of sharks in the sea today, none resembles its primeval ancestors 
more than the Hexanchidae. Fossil remains of a shark almost identical 
to the Seven-Gilled have been recorded from the Jurassic Period, 
which means they last swam the seas about 150 million years ago, accord- 
ing to our current estimates of geological time. 

The only known species of Six-Gilled shark (Hexanchus griseus 
Bonnaterre, 1780) is found throughout the world— in continental waters 
of both the eastern and the western Atlantic; the Mediterranean; the 
North American Pacific coast from northern British Columbia to 
southern California, and along the Chilean coast. It is also found in the 
waters of Japan and in the Indian Ocean. 

Six-gilled shark ( Hexanchus griseus ] 

Courtesy, Fisheries Research Board of Canada 

The Sharks-Part One 293 

A relatively rare shark in U.S. Atlantic coastal waters, the Six-Gilled 
is abundant enough in the Mediterranean to be considered a nuisance 
because it drives off more marketable fish. 

It is a deep-water shark, but it has been seen swimming at the surface 
off the Irish coast. A 26-footer was once reportedly caught off Cornwall, 
England. Large Six-Gills, weighing as much as 1,600 pounds, have been 
hauled up from 700 fathoms off Cuba, where they are frequently caught. 
Normally, the Six-Gilled does not grow to more than 15V^ feet. 

The Six-Gilled is also known as the Cow shark. Gray shark. Mud 
shark, or Shovel-Nosed shark. 

The experts do not agree on how many species of Seven-Gilled sharks 
there are. But there is general agreement that there are only two genera— 
Heptranchias, whose species have narrow heads, and Notary nchus, 
whose species have broad heads. Because the species attributed to each 
genus are so similar, some scientists believe that there are only two spe- 
cies, one for each genus. 

Seven-gilled shark (Notorynchus maculatum) . 

Courtesy, California Bureau of Marine Fisheries 

Using this division, we have the Narrow-Headed Seven-Gill {Hep- 
tranchias perlo Bonnaterre, 1788) and the Broad-Headed Seven-Gill 
{Notorynchus Tnaculatum Ay res, 1885). 

H. perlo is found in both the eastern and the western Atlantic and in 
the Mediterranean. Although relatively rare in U.S. continental waters 
of the western Atlantic, it is found from Portugal to the Cape of Good 
Hope in the east. This species, or one very similar to it, is also found 
off Japan in the north Pacific. The Seven-Gill of AustraHa (where it is 
called the One-Finned shark) is considered another species {H. dakini) 
by some scientists. It is said to have startlingly bright emerald-green eyes, 
and to grow to about 3 feet. H. perlo is believed to grow to 7^2 feet, 
though 10-footers have been reported. Although comparatively little is 
known of its habits, it is believed to be a bottom-dweller in coastal 
waters both deep and shallow. Its name is sometimes Mud because of its 
dull brown or grayish coloring. It is also known as the Cow shark. 

N. maculatum, known to grow to 10 feet and reputedly to 15 feet. 

294 Shark and Company 

ranges the North American Pacific coast from Alaska to California. This 
species, or one or more very similar to it, is found in the Mediterranean, 
off South Africa, in the Indian Ocean, and in the waters off Japan, China, 
Australia, and New Zealand. This Seven-Gill has a varied reputation. It 
appears frequently in San Francisco Bay, which seems to be a nursery 
where females drop their pups. In this area, fishermen consider it a 
nasty fish to handle, for it is pugnacious when caught. In South AustraUa, 
it is considered a dangerous shark; in New Zealand, it is looked upon as 
not dangerous. 

Family Carchariidae—SAND Sharks 
No one knows what makes one shark dangerous to man and another 
shark, though vaguely dreaded, not definitely indicted as a man-killer. 
Very few of all recorded attacks can be unquestionably pinned on any 
one species. So, for many attacks, the list of suspects is long, and after 
the name of several sharks the prudent man puts a question mark. 

In this family, there are two species so closely related that distinc- 
tions between them often are not made. Yet they prowl seas half a world 
away from each other. One is known to have attacked bathers. The other, 
endowed with similarly rapacious teeth and a heritage of voracity, is 
only, to date at least, a suspect. 

Gray Nurse Shark (Carcharias arenarius Ogilby, 1911) 
The Gray Nurse is probably the most inappropriately named shark 

of all. It is often brown rather than gray— and, despite its benevolent 

name, it is a menace whose toll of known victims is a long one. (The 

name Nurse is believed to come from an ancient word, nusse, which 

means "great fish.") 

In two of the most shark-infested nations of the world, Australia and 

South Africa, the Gray Nurse is dreaded as one of the most dangerous 

sharks in the sea. 

Dr. J. L. B. Smith, an authority on the sharks of South Africa, wrote 

of the Gray Nurse^: 

Probably most shallow water attacks in South Africa are due to this shark, 
which also penetrates far up estuaries. The jaw of a ten-foot specimen would 
easily sever a human head or thigh; those of the largest would easily cut a man 
in half. 

The Gray Nurse grows to a length of at least 15 feet. Its teeth, which 
fill its jaws row on row, are long, slender, and curved inward. After 
seeing a Gray Nurse seize a fish. Smith wrote: 

2 J. L. B. Smith, The Sea Fishes of Southern Africa (Capetown: Central News 
Agency, Ltd., 1953). 

The Sharks— Part One 295 

The upper jaw . . . shoots out, the inner teeth become erect in both jaws, 
and the snout forms a grotesque pointed hood over this projecting fang-lined 
cavity of horror, which can snap shut with bone-shearing force. 

In Australia, Gray Nurse sharks have been seen lying on the bottom 
close to shore in neat rows in what Australians call "nurse grounds." 
Great schools of Gray Nurses are also seen in Australia as they chase 
shoals of fish toward the beach, there to be cornered and slaughtered. 

The menace of the Gray Nurse is far from American shores, but it 
is somewhat less than comforting to realize that this brute has a very 
close American relative— the Sand shark (Carcharias taunts Rafinesque, 
1810)— which is found in great numbers along some of the most popular 
bathing beaches of the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States. 

It is w^orthy of note here that this is one of the variations in the 
reputations of sharks thought to be of the same species. The common 
and presumably "harmless" Sand shark of the U.S. Atlantic Coast is 
presumed to be the same as, or almost identical to, the much-feared 
Gray Nurse of Australia. The reputation of the former has been benign in 
U.S. waters until recently; that of the latter in Australia has always been 
fearsome. As far as the authors have been able to determine, there is not 
yet positive identification of the two species. With all of man's fears and 
fables about sharks from earliest history, it would seem time for some 
critical investigation to be undertaken to produce a classification that will 
have some reliability. 

Sand Shark 

(Carcharias taunts Rafinesque, 1810) 

(Also Known as Sand Tiger Shark, Spanish Shark) 

Voracious and quick to use its stiletto-like teeth, yet at times sluggish 
and torpid, the Sand shark has a Jekyll-Hyde reputation. 

Fishermen know it as a shark with a wicked disposition when it is 
trapped in a net, but along the Atlantic Coast it has never been regarded 
as a menace to swimmers. Christopher W. Coates, director of the New 
York Citv Aquarium, says of the Sand shark, however: "They can bite 
like hell and we don't trust them." 

A Sand shark ( Carcharias taurus ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

296 Shark and Company 

In the first known Sand shark attack on a bather in the United States, 
a skin-diver was grabbed by a Sand shark in Long Island Sound in 
July of 1961. The victim, Bruno Junker, said that he was diving off 
Hart Island, near the western end of the Sound, when a 4-foot Sand 
shark seized one of his legs just below the knee. Junker managed to 
pry open the shark's jaws, cutting his hands on the creature's teeth. 
Junker, a skin-diver of 10 years' experience, positively identified the 
attacker as a Sand shark, a species he was familiar with— and a species 
he, like nearly everyone else, had assumed to be harmless. 

Innumerable Sand sharks swarm off the United States Atlantic Coast 
during the summer months. From Delaware Bay to Cape Cod, they are 
among the most abundant summer sharks. They disappear from the 
seaboard as soon as the water temperature falls below about 67 °F. Curi- 
ously, there is no increase in their numbers along the Carolina or Florida 
coasts in the winter. The year-round Sand shark residents of the east 
coast of Florida apparently do not migrate. The Sand sharks which do 
appear off the Delaware to New England coast in the warm months 
retreat to some unknown wintering ground. 

Sand sharks feed on smaller fish, raiding schools of flatfish, bluefish, 
or menhaden in a veritable orgy of feasting. The indefatigable Carolina 
shark-watcher, Russell J. Coles, after seeing Sand sharks in action off 
Cape Lookout, North Carolina, reported: 

This shark works in a more systematic way in securing its food than any 
shark of which I know. On one occasion, I saw a school of a hundred or more 
surround a school of bluefish and force them into a solid mass in shallow water, 
and then, at the same instant, the entire school of sharks dashed in on the blue- 
fish. On another occasion, with a large school of bluefish in my net, a school 
of these sharks attacked it from all sides and ate or liberated the school of blue- 
fish, practically ruining the net. 

Because many of the Sand sharks that are caught in Atlantic coastal 
waters in the summer are young, they are often only 3 or 4 feet long. 
This phenomenon, along with a tendency on the part of fishermen to 
call any small shark a Sand shark, has beclouded the facts about what a 
Sand shark really is and how big it really grows. They are known to 
reach at least 10 feet. (In South Africa, Smith identifies the Gray Nurse 
as Carcharias taiinis and says it attains 15 feet in length, but Atlantic 
Coast specimens of Carcharias taiiriis have never been recorded larger 
than 10 feet, five inches.) 

Fishermen frequently land Sand sharks, which are not very chal- 
lenging game fish, incidentally. But one man's Sand shark is not another's. 
Small Dogfish, Dusky sharks, and Brown sharks, all of which are rela- 
tively common in waters frequented by the Sand shark, are often er- 

The Sharks-Fart One 297 

roneously called Sand sharks. The mix-up is further complicated by the 
fact that some fishermen know the Sand shark itself as the "Shovel-Nose 
shark" or the "Dogfish shark." 

The name "Spanish shark," still another befuddling name for the 
Sand shark, comes from the absurd notion that this shark of many 
names was originally a tropical shark driven into temperate waters by 
the cannonading during the Spanish American war! [Spanish was a 
popular adjective with old-time seafarers who associated many things 
that were strange and southern with the idea that they stemmed from 
the Spanish-dominated tropics. Thus they derived Spanish moss, Spanish 
oak, Spanish mackerel and Spanish (yellow) fever.] 

The Sand shark's upper body is light gray-brown, darkest along its 
back, snout, and upper sides of its pectoral fins, paling on its sides. Its 
belly is grayish white. It has many roundish or oval yellow-brown spots 
on its sides. No shark with which it could be confused has spots of this 
particular nature. 

Sand sharks are found on both sides of the Atlantic. On the east, it 
is known in the Mediterranean, off tropical West Africa, around the 
Canary and Cape Verde Islands, and off West and South Africa. In the 
western Atlantic, it ranges from the Gulf of Maine to Florida and southern 

The Sand shark family has only one recognized genus, Carcharias. 
The various species, known— and usually feared— throughout the world 
may be merely variations on one world-wide species. In addition to C. 
arenarms and C. taurus, these other species include the Blue Nurse (C. 
tricuspidatus Day, 1888) of Indian, Chinese, and South African waters, 
and the common shark of Japanese coastal waters (C. oivstoni Garman, 

Family Scapanorhynchidae—GoBi.i'N Shark 
When the weird-looking Goblin shark was found in Japanese waters 
and first described in the western world in 1898 by David Starr Jordan, 
president of Leland Stanford University, it was regarded by astonished 
scientists as a discovery comparable to the capture of a prehistoric 
Ichthyosaur which had somehow appeared in modern seas. 

A Goblin shark (Scapanorhynchus oivstoni). 

Courtesy, American Miiseiini of Natural History 

298 Shark and Company 

We know today that the Goblin shark is a hving representative of a 
shark that was presumed to have become extinct some 70 miUion years 
ago, and whose fossil remains have been found throughout the world. 
But we know little more than that. Only one species of Goblin (Scapano- 
rhynchus oivstojii Jordan, 1898) has been found in very deep waters 
off Japan, Portugal, and India. Its greatest known length is about 14 feet. 

Family I suridae— Mackerel Sharks, Mako Sharks, 
Great White Shark 

The sharks known commonly as Makos and Mackerel sharks are 
included in this family of large, stout-bodied species, which are usually 
classed in three genern—Lanma, Isiirus, and Carcharodon. The most 
notorious member of this dangerous family is the Great White shark, 
whose large, triangular, serrated teeth set it apart from all other mem- 
bers of the family— and whose reputation as a man-eater is indisputable. 
It is known all over the world as the Man-Eater. 

Great White Shark 

(Carcharodon carcharias Linnaeus, 1758) 

(Also Known as White Shark, Man-Eating Shark, White Pointer, 

White Death) 

Baleful legends and true tales of horror follow in the wake of this 
hungry shark which cuts through the seas like a long knife. If the 
shark is king of the sea, the Great White is the king of kings, recognizing 
no claims of supremacy from any other creatures, be they sharks— or 
men. It is the most voracious fish in the open seas, and one of the biggest, 
growing certainly to 36 feet in length and perhaps to 40 or more feet. 

With its rows of saw-edged, razor-keen teeth, sometimes 2 inches 
long; with its speed and its unerring scenting of prey, the Great White 
is an instrument of death as swift and sure as a guillotine. It strikes a 
victim with thousands of pounds of murderous impact. A Great White 
21 feet long weighed 7,100 pounds. Imagine, then, the power of a 36- 
foot Great White lunging toward a man. If this nightmare is translated 
into the abstraction of physics, it is possible that even a mere 200- or 
300-pound Great White can hurl itself toward prey with sufficient 
force to snap the largest human bones— after its teeth have bitten through 
the yielding flesh. 

Great Whites frequently devour their prey intact. Other sharks from 
4 to 7 feet long have been found entire in the beUies of Great Whites. 
A sea lion weighing 100 pounds was found in a Great White taken off 
California. The incredible discovery of the remains of a whole horse in 
a Great White captured in Australia was reliably reported. A Great 
White taken in Florida waters had in it two sharks, each of which was 

The Sharks— Part One 


The Great White shark (Car char odon carcharias) ; with tooth. 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and Wilham C. Schroeder, 1948 

6 to 7 feet long. They also eat sea turtles, easily crunching through the 
shells; and seals cleanly bitten in two have been found in their stomachs. 

In 1959, a thirst-crazed elephant stampeded into the sea at Kenya, 
Africa. It was heading for an island off the mainland, where, apparently, 
it believed it could find water. The elephant never made it. Huge sharks 
swarmed around it, and in a frenzy of feasting, tore it to shreds. Fisher- 
men who saw the massacre of the elephant did not identify the sharks. 
But some may well have been Great Whites, asserting their sovereignty 
over any creatures that come their way. 

This is a shark whose lethal jaws have been known to seamen since 
ancient times. Jonathan Couch, in his History of the Fishes of the 
British Islands, summed up the beliefs of generations of seafarers by 
saying of the Great White: "It is to sailors the most formidable of all the 
inhabitants of the sea, for in none besides are the powers of inflicting 
injury so equally combined with eagerness to accomplish it." This 
reputed eagerness for human flesh is a claim not accepted by scientists. 
But the Great White's lust for food is so insatiable that any food— small 
fish, large fish, squid, other sharks, dogs, horses or men— is devoured 

Though the subject of countless sea yams, the Great White shark 
has remained a mystery to ichthyologists. Nothing is known of its breed- 
ing habits, and its wanderings through the seas of the world seem almost 
random at times, as if each Great White were an individual, untrammeled 
by any zoning laws. Great Whites are known in all warm seas, including 
the Mediterranean, but they have been found in many northern waters 
in warm months. Reports of captures or reliable sightings have been 

300 Shark and Company 

made in the Gulf of Maine; in Massachusetts Bay; off Portland, Maine; 
within the Bay of Fundy; and around Nova Scotia. On the Pacific Coast, 
it has been taken at least as far north as Washington. 

Great Whites are theoretically pelagic, but many have been taken in 
fish traps within a few yards of the beach in the vicinity of Woods 
Hole, Massachusetts, and on Cape Cod. They have been harpooned in 
10 feet of water off Provincetown, Massachusetts, and even within 2 
miles of a bathing beach in Boston harbor. A Great White once attacked 
a fisherman in a dory on St. Pierre Bank, south of Newfoundland. The 
species was determined by teeth left behind on the dory's scarred hull. 

In southern waters, Great Whites are more frequently seen— and 
encountered. Many of the attacks on bathers have been blamed on the 
Great White in Australia, where this man-eater also bears the chillingly 
descriptive name of White Death. 

A Great White 7^ feet long was caught in 15 fathoms 12 miles off 
Port Aransas, Texas, on February 9th, 1950. Seven days later, a second 
Great White, lli/4 feet long, was caught in the same area. And 10 days 
later a third— this one 12 feet, 2 inches long— was caught there. Yet 
there had never been a previously reported catch in Texas waters. 
Similarly ominous appearances of this reputedly rare shark have been 
reported in California waters in recent years. Captures of these man- 
eaters off Florida and the West Indies have been infrequent, but reports 
of their presence have been disturbingly frequent. And always they 
carry the portent of death with them. 

Sighted by someone who knows its sinister silhouette, the Great 
White is unmistakable. Its huge body, ranging in shade from gray to 
black above, is usually a glistening white below. Its blackish dorsal 
fin frequently protrudes above the surface as it cruises. (Drawings of 
the Great White sometimes show it twisting on its back to bite. The 
misconception has persisted that sharks must turn on their backs to bite. 
This is not true of any shark, with one qualification. Very large sharks, 
in confined areas or when excited, particularly the "rigid-bodied" pelagic 
sharks, such as the Great White, cannot turn quickly. Their bodies are 
too stiff. Under certain conditions, then, they may turn sideways, or 
even all the way over when attacking.) 

Mako Sharks 

{hums oxyrinchus Rafinesque, 1810) 

{hums glaucus Miiller and Henle, 1841 ) 

Zane Grey, known to most people as a writer on the American West, 

was also one of America's greatest sport fishermen. He called the Mako 

"a premier sporting fish, as game as beautiful, as ferocious as enduring." 

Pound for pound, it is one of the strongest, swiftest of sharks. At 10 

The Sharks— Part One 301 

feet in length, a Mako may weigh more than 1,000 pounds, and it is 
believed that the Alako reaches a length of at least 13 feet. Zane Grey, 
incidentally, was not the only writer to match strength and wits with 
the Mako— in 1936, Ernest Hemingway caught a record Mako, weighing 
786 pounds, with rod and reel off Bimini, the Bahamas. 

The Mako's fight on the hook is tireless and fierce. It will leap 
again and again to shake off the maddening fetter that deprives it of 
its freedom. Often, in the open seas that it roams, the Mako will leap 
for the seeming joy of being alive and unvanquished. Its fighting instinct 
is so strong that it may hunt the Broadbill swordfish, rarely menaced 
by any marine enemy. 

Two Halifax fishermen once came upon a battle between several 
sharks and a single swordfish. By the time they reached the scene of the 
fight, the swordfish's head, sword, and tail had been bitten off, and a 
pack of 8 or 10 sharks still swirled about it. As the fishermen hauled 
the remains of the swordfish into their boat, one of the sharks frenziedly 
attempted to leap into the boat after it, which sounds like an angry 

Captain Nathaniel E. Atwood, a New England fisherman and amateur 
naturalist, exhibited before the Boston Society of Natural History in 
1866 the jaws of a large shark believed to have been a Mako. "In the 
stomach of this specimen," he said, "nearly the whole of a full-grown 
swordfish was found, and some ten or twelve wounds in the skin of the 
shark gave evidence of the contest which must have occurred." 

In more modern times, a 120-pound swordfish (Xiphias gladius) was 
found— with sword still attached— in the stomach of a 730-pound Mako 
taken near Bimini. 

<:y j^*" 


The Mako shark (Isuius oxyiinchus). 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

302 Shark and Company 

A duel between the razor-toothed Mako and the toothless swordfish 
would appear to be one the shark was sure to win. But the swordfish's 
sword is a weapon that can be wielded with incredible power. There 
are many documented cases of swordfishes' swords having been thrust 
through a foot or more of solid oak in the hulls of ships. 

Captain Young saw the evidence of such a mortal duel: 

It was while we were shark-fishing around Warimos Island near Djibouti on 
the Red Sea. One morning a native came to me to report that a dead shark was 
on the beach. I ordered the men to drag it up to the station and skin it, since 
shark skins were what we were after. 

When they had the skin partly off, a man came running to bring me to see 
what they had found— 18 inches of a Broad-Billed Swordfish sword in the vital 
organs of the shark. 

As I reconstructed it, there had been a swift, deadly fight. The swordfish 
had rammed the shark, and, unable to withdraw the sword from the shark's 
tough hide, had broken it off in the struggle and fled. 

The sword had entered the right side of the shark in the space behind the 
last gill-slit and just in front of the base of the right pectoral fin. It had gone in 
at this angle because the swordfish had attacked the right side almost head-on. 
The sword entered to the very hilt and obliquely penetrated the vitals of the 

The Mako is a shark of many names, both scientific and common. 
The Mako of the Atlantic, /. oxyrinchus, is also known as the Sharp- 
Nosed Mackerel shark. The Mako of the Indo-Pacific and South Africa 
(/. Glaucus) is called, in various places, the Bonito, Blue Pointer, Blue 
Porpoise, and Snapper, In AustraHa and New Zealand, /. glaucus even 
has another scientific name— I suropis or Isurus mako Whitley, 1929. 
The fact is that both oxyrinchus and glaucus are very close relatives. 
And wherever or however they are known, they are regarded as superb 
game fish. Taking no sides in the name-calling, the International Game 
Fish Association recognizes both as the Mako shark. 

Besides being indomitable fighting fish, both species are suspected 
of attacking men. In Australia, the Mako has also been accused of several 
unprovoked attacks on small boats. In one such incident, four men in 
a rowboat off the Bellami Reef, New South Wales, Australia, were fishing 
when a school of sharks suddenly charged toward the boat. The men 
rowed frantically, but one of the sharks smashed into the boat, ripping 
a hole in it and hurling the four men into the water. One man struck 
out for shore. He got about 20 yards before he was pulled under by a 
shark. Two of the others later disappeared and were never found. The 
fourth man lived. 

Like some other ovoviviparous sharks, Makos probably begin their 
voracity in the womb. The embryos hatch from eggs while still in the 

The Sharks— Fart One 303 

mother's body. In the next stage of their development, the embryos are 
nourished by their yolk-sacs and by the nutritive fluid that surrounds 
them in the mother's oviduct. After the yolk is absorbed, they apparently 
continue their prenatal feeding in a bizarre way. As they lie free in the 
oviduct, they devour the unfertilized eggs that are near them. As many 
as 10 well-fed young are born at a time. 

Like all shark pups, the Mako young are fully formed when they 
begin their life in the sea. Because some well-meaning but inaccurate 
observer ages ago saw the birth of Makos and did not understand what 
he saw, he started the myth that the mother Mako shark protects her 
young by letting them swim into her body when danger approaches. The 
story has persisted to this day, and it is just as ridiculous now as it was 
when it began. As a matter of fact, if new-born Makos know what's 
good for them, they'll swim away from their ravenous mother as fast 
as they can, for Mako mothers have been known to eat their young. 

/. oxyrinchus is pelagic in the tropical and warm-temperate waters 
of both the northern and the southern Atlantic. It is also found in the 
Mediterranean. In summer, many migrate northward along the con- 
tinental shelf as far as southern New England, and sometimes New- 
foundland. /. glaucus is found off southern California, Japan, Hawaii, 
Australia, and New Zealand. 

Mackerel Sharks 

{Lamna 7iasus ^onn^Lttxvt^ 1788) 

(Lanma ditropis Hubbs and Follett, 1947) 

The Mackerel shark also contributes generously to the pool of name 
confusion that many sharks swim in. In England it is called the Porbeagle, 
a word possibly coined from the por of porpoise^ and beagle, an old 
English word for small dog. In the Gulf of Maine, where it is abundant, 
L. nasus is known as a Blue shark, because of its bluish-gray upper 
coloring, which changes abruptly to white below. The Alackerel is 
often— and erroneously— called a Mako, for it somewhat resembles one 
and is a swift swimmer. 

But its accepted common name. Mackerel shark, is fitting, for it 
pursues and catches these fast-swimming fish. It is usually to be found 
following the migrations of the mackerel. 

Fast, sleek, and growing to about 12 feet, the Mackerel shark is 
generally considered to be dangerous, though no positive indictment 
of man-eating has been lodged against it. In South Africa it is looked 
upon as a good shark to keep away from. A similar Australian species, 
also known as Mackerel or Porbeagle, is likewise regarded as dangerous. 

3 Porpoise, itself, is a corruption of Parens Piscis (fat fish) . 

304 Shark and Company 

The Mackerel shark ( Lamna nasus ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

Its scientific name, Larmia, incidentally, comes from a Greek word for 
a man-eating monster Greek parents threatened to sick on naughty 
children to make them behave. 

L. ?2asus is found in the continental waters of the northern Atlantic, 
on the eastern side from the North Sea to South Africa, and on the 
western side from the Newfoundland Banks to New Jersey, and perhaps 
South Carolina. It is also found in the Mediterranean. A similar Pacific 
species {Larrnia ditropis) is abundant in the waters of the Pacific North- 
west, from Alaska to northern California, and is common off southern 
California. It is sometimes called the Salmon shark in Alaska because of 
its depredations on that fish. On the western side of the Pacific, it is 
found in temperate seas. 

Family Cetorhinidae— Basking Sharks 
One wintry day in 1939, the bleached bones of a huge animal were 
found on a beach near Provincetown, Massachusetts. The skeleton was 
about 25 feet long and, though its huge skull looked fish-like, the bones 
of stubby legs were attached to the strange creature. Soon the cry of 
"■sea serpentr went up on Cape Cod . . . 

What lay on the beach that day were the remains of a Basking shark 
(Cetorhinus maximus Gunnems, 1765), a mighty fish second in size 
only to its colossal but actually distant relative, the Whale shark 
(Rhincodon typus). The Basking shark is also known as the Elephant 
shark. Bone shark, Sailfish shark, and Sunfish. 

When the body of a Basking shark washes ashore, the natural de- 
composition of its great bulk produces a kind of metamorphosis from 
which emerges the outline of a "sea serpent." For, all that is left after 
decomposition is completed are the cartilage of the oblong skull, the 
long backbone, the remains of the big pectorals and, if it is a male, the 
3-foot-long claspers. Because of their location on the skeleton, the pec- 
torals and the claspers look hke the "legs" of the sea serpent. 

The Sharks— Part One 


As they swim behind each other, their dorsal and tail fins high above 
the surface, Basking sharks have inspired tales of living sea serpents. 
Shark-hunter P. Fitzgerald O'Connor, in his book Shark-O!, tells of see- 
ing numerous Basking sharks "head to tail in one long sinuous line . . . 
as far as the eye could see and further." The long line moved slowly. 
The sharks did not appear to be eating. "It seemed to us in that evening 
light," O'Connor wrote, "that some basic animal force was indeed at 
work— that every shark in the area must have been brought to this 
particular part of the coast at this particular hour by some irresistible 
urge in its being." 

O'Connor, fishing in the Little Minch of the Scottish Hebrides, caught 
two sharks from this school and discovered that the snouts of each were 
a "mass of raw bleeding flesh, skinned for a good twelve inches back 
from the tips ... by the continuous grinding against the sharp den- 
ticles on the hide of the beast in front." 

Basking sharks grow to a length of 40 and perhaps 50 feet. Their 
weight is measured in tons. A 30-footer landed in 1931 in Monterey, 
California, weighed 8,600 pounds. Much larger ones have been landed 
and weighed— in stupendous pieces— recently in Scotland. Writing of the 
problems of dissecting such ponderous specimens. Dr. L. Harrison 
Matthews, director of the Zoological Society of London, and Dr. H. W. 
Parker of the British Museum, remarked: "Woe betide the anatomist 
who inadvertently punctures the stomach and releases something like a 
ton of semi-digested plankton." They gave these weights to chunks 
chopped from a 29-footer: head, 1 ton; liver, 1,850 pounds; fins, 1 ton; 
tail, ^2 ton; skin, 1 ton; meat and back, 3,000 pounds; guts, Y^ ton; con- 
tents of stomach and intestines, V2 to 1 ton. Total: not quite 7 tons! 

The Basking shark {Cetorhinus maximus). 

Courtesy, Fisheries Research Board of Canada 

306 Shark and Company 

The Basking shark feeds by cruising through the sea with mouth 
agape and scooping in a continual torrent of water which is strained 
for lood by gill rakers. It is usually a sluggish monster. It gets its name 
from its habit of lying on the surface, back awash and first dorsal fin 
riding the water like a small black sail. Sometimes the tip of its tail, 
and more rarely its snout, also break water. 

Occasionally, the Basking shark leaps from the sea, a lifting feat of 
unimaginable strength. This leaping habit may be prompted by a mating 
urge or by a more prosaic desire to get rid of the vast colonies of 
parasites that infest its massive body. (The blood-sucking sea lamprey 
{Petromyzon marinus) is known also to prey upon the Basking shark.) 

The Basking shark is looked upon as a menace in some parts of the 
world, a boon in other places— and a mystery wherever it happens to 
appear and disappear. It is a menace along the coast of British Columbia, 
Canada, where schools of Basking sharks harass salmon fishermen, and 
in Newfoundland, where fishermen's cod traps are destroyed by the great 
sharks when they blunder into them and try to escape. 

The Basking sharks are not after the cod or the salmon; they are 
merely competing with the commercial fishes in a search for food, for 
Basking sharks seem to be exclusively plankton-eaters. As they swim 
through a fishing ground, they tear up valuable nets, ruin trolling gear 
which accidentally wraps around them— and they scare the devil out of 

The fishermen in Canada appealed to the government for aid. The 
federal Department of Fisheries went after the Basking sharks with har- 
poons, but the sharks would not be driven away. Next, firing squads 
took to the sea and peppered the huge, easily approached sharks with 
rifle bullets. The bullets had little effect. Finally, the Department of 
Fisheries devised a new weapon— a vessel fitted with a pointed steel 
ram honed to razor sharpness. The vessel sped into schools of Basking 
sharks and cut them to pieces. As many as 18 were slaughtered at one 
fish ng ground in a single day. 

Of the countless Basking sharks landed by commercial shark-hunters, 
not one female is known to have carried an embryo. In fact, the only 
mention of a Basking shark embryo in scientific literature came in the 
year otherwise known for the signing of the United States Declaration 
of Independence. The most widely accepted theory is that Basking sharks 
are viviparous, conceive their young while basking at the surface, and 
bring them forth in the sunless privacy of the deep— after a gestation 
of possibly 2 years or longer. 

In Colonial times, Basking sharks were abundant in the Gulf of 
Maine, and many were caught off the tip of Cape Cod to provide oil 
for the lamps of the colonists. But the great sharks have long since 

The Sharks— Part One 



In the war the Department of Fisheries of Canada waged on the Basking shark, this 
pointed steel ram was used to kill the huge marauders of the British Columbia fishing 
grounds. The ram is fixed on the bow of the Fisheries Protection vessel Coinox Post. 
Eighteen Basking sharks were killed in one day with this knife-like ram. 

Courtesy, Department of Fisheries of Canada 

vanished from New England waters, except for occasional strays. When 
they do appear, it is nearly always in the warmer months of the year. 
They disappear in winter, probably to wintering grounds on the sea 
bottom, where, perhaps in some sort of hibernation, they await the 
warmth of spring. This theory is based primarily on the fact that Basking 
sharks caught in early spring usually have small livers, indicating that 
they had spent the winter in a place where food was scarce, or that 
they had not been feeding for a considerable time. 

The Basking shark is usually described as "harmless." We suppose 
the elephant might be similarly described— by people who don't hunt 
elephants. But those who have hunted the Basking shark will attest to 

308 Shark and Company 

its awesome might and potentially lethal attempts to shake off the men 
who try to capture it. A mere 6-ton Basking shark weighs about as 
much as two elephants or a dozen horses. When it leaps clear of the 
surface and crashes down, its falling body may send up a splash as high 
as, or higher than, a three-story house. 

One calm day off the west coast of Scotland, a yacht suddenly dis- 
appeared in a great splash of spray. All that was found were odd pieces 
of wreckage and the bodies of the crew. Everything was covered with 
thick, foul-smelling slime. A marine biologist who examined the clues 
to the mysterious disaster established that the black slime was identical 
with the ooze that coats the thick hide of the Basking shark. 

The Basking shark's body is grayish-brown or nearly black above, 
shading to a paler shade below, and its skin is studded with close-set, 
thorn-like denticles. 

It is found in all temperate and boreal waters, centering west and 
south of Iceland, along western Ireland, among the Hebrides, and off 
southwestern Norway. In the Pacific, between November and February, 
it ranges around Monterey and San Simeon Bays, California. It is also 
known off Peru, Ecuador, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China. 
Cetorhinus ryiaxiTrms is generally believed to be the only species of 
Basking shark. 

Family /i/(9pwWd!e— Thresher Sharks 

(Also Known as Fox Shark, Sea Fox, Swingletail, Thrasher, 
Whip-Tailed Shark) 

A sea bird, injured or sick, is floundering on the surface. Suddenly, 
out of the sea rises a sinuous scythe that slams down upon the bird, 
killing it instantly. In the next moment, the sea bird is swallowed by the 
wielder of the scythe— a Thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus Bonnaterre, 

The startling death of the sea bird was seen by reliable eyewitnesses 
who have added this incident to the long list of accounts of how the 

Thresher shark {Alopias vulpinus). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

The Sharks-Part One 309 

amazing Thresher shark gets its food. The Thresher's prodigious tail- 
often as long as the rest of its body— is apparently its principal means 
of obtaining food, for its jaws and teeth are relatively weak. A Thresher 
has been seen lashing a small fish again and again to kill or stun it so 
that it could be swallowed. It is the only shark known to use its tail in 
this way. 

The Thresher pursues schools of mackerel, bluefish, shad, menhaden, 
bonito, and various herrings. When it nears a school of fish it splashes 
the water with its tail, driving the fish into a close-packed crowd and 
makinor smaller and smaller circles around them. Then, when the fish 
are jammed together in a frightened mass, the Thresher darts among 
them, mouth agape, and swallows them. Sometimes Threshers, work- 
ing as a team, herd the fish between them and, at the moment of 
slaughter, share the meal. The Thresher's odd form of preying is very 
efficient. Twenty-seven mackerel were found in one \3y2-ioot Thresher. 

Threshers have supposedly joined with swordfish to attack whales— 
the Thresher beating the whale with its tail and the swordfish stabbing 
it. This tale has about as much foundation as stories about snakes that 
form themselves into hoops to roll downhill. Tall stories about the 
Thresher slapping whales to death probably are based on long-range 
observations of genuine attacks on whales by the vicious Killer whale 
{Orc'mns orca), which has a high dorsal fin and, as it clings by its teeth 
to its struggling victim, raises great splashes. 

Threshers are known to grow to 20 feet or more, including tails. 
They weigh up to 1,000 pounds. The Thresher is a pelagic fish, but it 
often comes near to shore when it is corralling prey. Threshers seem 
to stay near the surface, and they have been seen making spectacular 
leaps out of the sea. 

Around the end of June, when the porgies are running near Block 
Island, Rhode Island, Threshers are usually the most common shark 
found in those waters, to the chagrin of commercial fishermen whose 
nets are often ruined by struggling Threshers which have blundered 
into them. 

The range of A. vulpinus extends from Ireland to the Cape of Good 
Hope and the Mediterranean on the east, and from Nova Scotia and 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence to northern Argentina on the west. It is also 
found in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, but ichthyologists are not 
certain whether these reports involve A. viilp'miis or the similar Thresher 
known in the Pacific (Alopias pelagicus Nakamura, 1935). Along the 
eastern Pacific, Threshers are found from British Columbia to Chile. 
Elsewhere in the Pacific, they are also known around Japan, Korea, 
China, the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, and Australia, 

The Thresher's enormous tail distinguishes it from all other sharks. 

310 Shark and Company 

At least two species of the Big-Eyed Threshers inhabit deep water, 
Alopias superciliosus Lowe, 1840, in the tropical and sub-tropical At- 
lantic, and Alopias profundus Nakamura, 1935, in the Pacific. The huge 
eye of these species, one fifth the size of the head, is typical of the sort 
many deep-sea fishes develop. 

Family Orectolobidae—NvRSE and Carpet Sharks 

Side bv side, forming a colorful, gently rippling carpet on the sea 
bottom, lies a school of unusually beautiful sharks, so lethargic that even 
an approaching bather will usually not bother them. These are the 
Nurse sharks {G'mglymostonm cirratum Bonnaterre, 1788) of the At- 

\ I il 


Atlantic Nurse shark (Gynglymostoma cirratum). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

lantic— the only species of the vast Orectolobidae family that is found 
in the Atlantic. 

The edge of the sea is the little world of the Nurse shark. It is be- 
gotten there in the shallows, often in the sight of man. It is born there, 
one or as many as 26 pups emerging into the sun-warmed tepid waters. 
It lives there, close-packed in schools of a couple of dozen. It feeds 
quietly there, lazily ddvouring the squids, shrimps, crabs, spiny lobsters, 
sea urchins, and small fishes that wander by. 

Nurse sharks are no kin to the dread Gray Nurse (Carcharias arena- 
rius) of Australia. They are sluggish, bottom-dwelling sharks— most of 
them small. 

Even the humble Nurse shark, however, can be dangerous. At Rock 
Harbor in the Florida Keys in July of 1950, Warren Rathjen, a student 
at the Marine Laboratory of the University of Miami, was looking for 
seaweed specimens in muddy water 3 feet deep, about 50 feet from 
shore. As he bent over, something grabbed the back of his right thigh. 
Rathjen whirled around and seized the creature that was tenaciously 
biting him. He ripped from his thigh a 2i/4-foot shark which slithered out 
of his grasp. Because of Rathjen's knowledge of sharks, there is little 
doubt that he was attacked by a Nurse shark. But the doubt did linger. 

The Sharks— Part One 


for, after all, there had never been even a suspicion that the sluggish 
Nurse shark would attack a man. 

Never before our day, however, have so many skin-divers been in the 
underwater world, tweaking the tails of "harmless" sharks and even 
trying to ride them. In Florida and West Indies waters, the Nurse shark 
is encountered by skin-divers more often than any other shark. And 
because of its benign reputation, divers have been overly familiar with it. 

At least 12 known attacks— usually savage gouges on the hand or the 
leg— have been positively traced to the Nurse shark in recent years. 

Wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus) . 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940. After MuUer and Henle 

Practically all of the attacks were provoked. None was fatal but all have 
been painful, and several have resulted in severe injuries. 

A typical incident occurred in 1958 off Miami Beach, Florida, when 
skin-diver John Bowers grabbed the tail of a 5-foot Nurse, hoping to 
hitch a tow for a thrilling underwater ride. Bowers got no tow. Instead, 
the shark turned on him and seized his right thigh so tenaciously that 
it would not release its grip even after another skin-diver fired a spear- 
gun at it. The spear went right through the shark, apparently without 
disturbing it. Bowers was helped into a boat, the shark still clinging to 
him. It took 10 minutes to pry loose the shark's jaws. 

At least seven of the attacks occurred in Florida waters. Nurses which 
have bitten divers ranged in size from 18 inches to 9 feet. (Nurse 
sharks grow to a fair size: lengths of 10 to 12 feet are not unusual. A 
Nurse Sy^ feet long weighs from 3 30 to 370 pounds.) 

In Australia, the Orectolobidae are represented by several kinds of 
beautifully colored sharks, all usually called Wobbegongs, the aborigines' 
name for one of the species. The coloring is as practical as it is beautiful, 
for it blends in with the rocks and the weeds of the sea bottom, where 
the Wobbegong lies, well camouflaged. A fringe of fleshy barbels or 

•312 Shark and Company 

A Zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum). 

Courtesy, Central Fisheries Department of Pakistan 

feelers— a family characteristic of the Orectolobidae— grows around its 
mouth. The largest Wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus Bonnaterre, 
1788) grows to IQi/s feet. 

The Nurse shark of American waters has similarly varied colors- 
yellow to grayish brown, sprinkled with dark spots and sometimes dark 
bars. It is found close to shore on both sides of the Atlantic in warm 
waters. It is common around Cuba, Jamaica, and the Florida Keys. It 
also lazes along Pacific shores from the Gulf of California to Panama and 
Ecuador. It is sometimes called the Carpet shark. 

Another brilliantly colored member of the Orectolobidae family is 
the Zebra shark {Stegostoma fasciatum), which grows to about 11 feet. 
Unlike the Nurse shark, which is ovoviviparous and brings forth live 
young, the Zebra shark is oviparous. Its oblong egg capsules are equipped 
with bunches of tendrils that attach themselves to objects on the bottom, 
thus keeping the capsule anchored while the embryo within it develops. 

Family* Rhincodontidae— Whale Shark 
Until one April day in 1828 when some intrepid African fishermen 
harpooned the largest fish they had ever seen, the Whale shark was a 
phantom— occasionally seen and marveled at, frequently the subject of 
sea-monster tales, but never caught and examined by a man of science. 
The fishermen who brought in the first Whale shark known to modem 
man first sighted it as an immense dorsal fin knifing the surface in Table 
Bay, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. They approached the giant 
cautiously, but they learned to their astonishment that its size was not 
a harbinger of ferocity. They harpooned it easily, and not until the 
harpoon was in it did the colossal shark show any inclination toward 

Somehow, the native fishermen managed to get it to shore, where, 
luckily. Dr. Andrew Smith, a surgeon to British troops in South Africa, 

* There is only one known representative of the family: Rhine odon typiis Smith, 

The Sharks-Part One 313 

was able to examine it, buy its skin for £6, and forward it to the Museum 
National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. 

Dr. Smith's Whale shark was a small one, a mere 15-footer. In the 
years to come, more Whale sharks would be caught, and man would 
learn much about them. But the immensity of the Whale shark will al- 
ways awe man. Whale sharks have been measured at 45 feet, and 60- 
footers have been creditably reported. In 1912, a Whale shark nearly 
40 feet long and weighing about 1 3 % tons was caught off Knight's Key, 
Florida. An enterprising promoter skinned it and stuffed it— a job that 
took several months— and then toured the country with it, billing it as 
"The Only Creature of the Kind in the World." 

The Whale shark is still a good drawing card. More than 100,000 
persons thronged to a beach in Mangalore, India, in 1959, when a 
Whale shark 32 feet long was landed after taking 16 men on a fantastic 
ride. The huge fish was encountered in the Arabian Sea by a party of 
fishermen who were learning modern fishing techniques from G. S. 
Illugason of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 

The Whale shark happened along in the middle of a class on how 
to catch small fish. Illugason, his two assistants, and 13 Indian fishermen 
were in two steel-hulled boats, one 32 feet long and the other 27 feet 
long. When the Whale shark was spotted, classes were temporarily sus- 
pended and Illugason decided to try for it with the only available 
equipment— an unbarbed 2V2-foot iron hook and 2-inch manila line. Il- 
lugason reported: 

We sailed alongside while I waited for a chance to jab the hook through the 
fin. Our chance came when the shark tried to swim under our boat. I got the 
hook through the dorsal fin. And now started a fantastic sailing trip. Our two 
steel boats were secured together by a rope. Both our engines were stopped. 
Yet the shark towed both boats at a speed of five knots. 

The Whale shark (Rhincodon typus). 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1948 


Shark and Company 

A 5-ton, 32-foot Whale shark {Rhincodon typus), caught by UN fishing instructor 
G. S. lUugason and his crew in the Arabian Sea, is inspected by residents of Mangalore, 
India. It was towed ashore after an epic, 7-hour struggle. 

UN Food and Agriculture Organization Photo 

The shark pulled the boat for about 20 minutes. Then the line 
snapped, and the shark swam away, carrying the hook and 90 feet of 
line. "Then the fish came to the surface again," Illugason continued. "I 
was able to get a nylon line through the eye of the hook. The shark 
turned to the open sea, towing us with it." 

After 3 hours, the giant began to slow down; by then, most of the 
fight was out of it. After winding 16 more lines and a steel wire around 
the upper lobe of the tail fin, the fishermen towed the shark home to 
Mangalore. Their catch weighed more than the fish many fishermen 
could catch in a lifetime: 5 tons. 

Because of their enormous size, Whale sharks are almost impossible 
to weigh accurately. The Knight's Key specimen weighed an estimated 
26,594 pounds.^ Even this incredible weight is not the greatest a Whale 
shark can attain. Dr. E. W. Gudger, who made a lifelong study of Whale 
sharks, believed that 32 feet was about the average length of the Whale 
shark, and that there was reason to believe that some reached a length of 
70 to 75 feet. The weight of a 75-footer could be, on the basis of 
smaller Whale sharks' known weight, as much as 20 tons. 

5 The weight was estimated by this formula, according to Dr. Gudger: Length in 
inches multiplied by square of the girth in inches and divided by 800 gives the weight 
in pounds. The shark was 38 feet (456 inches) long and had a 216-inch girth. The 
weight: 26,594 pounds, give or take a couple of ounces. 

The Sharks— Part One 315 

Though captured and beached, Whale sharks are comparatively rare 
—about 90 have been recorded by marine scientists— they have been 
seen traveling in schools, and are well known to fishermen in many areas 
of the world. They are described as common around the Philippines and 
are well known in Havana waters. (One was caught about 5 miles west of 
the mouth of Havana harbor. It was weighed piecemeal. Its total weight 
was approximately 9 tons. Its heart weighed 43 pounds and its liver 
900 pounds.) 

Numerous collisions between ships and Whale sharks have been re- 
corded in log books throughout the world. A typical report from the 
skipper of a schooner, after a collision with a Whale shark near Cape 
San Lucas, at the tip of Lower California, follows: 

The vessel was struck on the starboard side by an immense shark. The wheel 
was wrenched out of the hands of the man at the wheel. The tail of the fish rose 
8 feet above the rail of the ship and about 14 feet above the waterline. The 
engine was stopped [since] the fish struck the propeller. The fish was dis- 
tinctly seen when it went astern, was of a mottled color and was at least 30 to 
35 feet long. After going into dry dock, it was found that considerable damage 
had been done to the hull and rudder of the ship. 

Whale sharks seem to wander into the path of a ship; they certainly 
don't appear to attack it. Perhaps they are drawn by a fatal curiosity. 
Their predilection for being rammed by ships is enough of a recognized 
maritime hazard for the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office to have de- 
voted the entire back of its June, 1948, issue of Pilot Chart of the 
North Pacific Ocean to records of collisions between ships and Whale 

There might not have been a book titled Ko?i-Tiki if a Whale shark's 
habit was one of charging into vessels instead of being bumped by them. 
The disquieting presence of a Whale shark gave the scientists on the 
Kon-Tiki several bad moments. As author Thor Heyerdahl told it in 
one of the great books of the sea,*' he had just finished a s\\ im off the 
bow of the raft when a cry of ''Shark. ''^ rang out. Dead astern was a 
fish with "the biggest and ugliest face" the men aboard had ever seen. 
Heyerdahl said that the fish had the face of a sea monster "so huge and 
so hideous that, if the Old A4an of the Sea himself came up, he could not 
have made such an impression on us." 

The Kon-Tiki scientists had little to fear. Whale sharks are so 
monumentally sluggish that men have literally walked all over them. 
Conrad Limbaugh of Scripps Institution of Oceanography was once 
with a group of skin-divers who happened upon a Whale shark. "We 
clambered on the shark, looking it over closely, even looking into its 

•"•Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1950). 


Shark and Co?npany 

On February 11, 1905, the Illustrated London News published this drawing, based on 
a sketch of Captain J. C. Robinson of the Armadale Castle. It clearly shows a Whale 
shark impaled on the ship's bow, but the headline called it a "Sea Serpent." The story 
said : "During a recent voyage of the Armadale Castle, when the vessel was in latitude 
3 deg. south, the stem's perpendicular struck a large fish close to the head, and held it 
prisoner for about 15 minutes. The monster was not less than 57 feet in length, and 
must have been 8 feet in diameter. It was beautifully marked and Captain Robinson 
was sorry he could not lasso and preserve it. There was keen controversy among the 
passengers as to its species, some arguing for a whale, some for a shark. As Mr. 
Rudyard Kipling was on board and saw the sight, it has been suggested that the 
creature should be called Piscis Rudyardensis." 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

mouth," he reported. "It showed no signs of concern except when we 
bothered its face. Then it slowly dived out of sight. But it would return 
to the surface, and we would cUmb aboard again." 

Stories of the Whale shark's indolence are many. Yet a fish of such 
gigantic size can be dangerous because of its very immensity. A 31 -foot 
Whale shark that blundered into a pound net off Fire Island, New York, 
in 1935 struggled with its captors for 3 hours before it was subdued. 
When thrashing to free itself, a Whale shark could easily kill a man or 
two with a flip of its mighty tail. However, no such incidents are on 

The Whale shark usually feeds on Crustacea and tiny fishes that are 
drawn into its enormous mouth, a cavern big enough for a man to 
crouch in. Its tiny teeth are many— 15,000 in one whose minute molars 
were laboriously counted. The teeth are packed into a band that runs 
along the inner surface of each jaw just inside the lips. These teeth are 
not used for biting or crushing food, but merely for holding whatever 
happens to be scooped into the mouth. 

The Sharks— Part One 317 

The pattern of the Whale shark s hide sliows up clearly in this photograph, which 
shows William Beebe pursuing a 42-footer during a New York Zoological Society 
expedition in the Eastern Pacific. This shark was found off Lower California. But it 
was not captured. Courtesy, Zoologica 

As the Whale shark swims, a steady current of water passes into its 
mouth and out the long gill slits on either side of its head. But, as the 
water flows through the gill slits, it is strained by gill rakers whose combs 
are closely spaced. The tiny food particles and the small fish swept 
into the Whale shark's maw are thus trapped inside and diverted to 
its gullet. The food must be small because the Whale shark's throat is 
\'ery narrow and makes an almost right-angled turn to the stomach. 
This bottleneck would seemingly prevent the passage of any large fishes 
—or a man who might stray into the Whale shark's path. A large shark, 
supposedly identified as a Whale shark, caught in the Philippines, had 
in its belly 47 buttons, 3 leather belts, 7 leggings, and 9 shoes. The 
deductions possible from this find range from suspicions that the shark 
was another species, that it had happened upon the remnants of a haber- 
dashery washed out to sea, or that the shark happened upon a motly 
group of men with a puzzling number of feet and legs. 

Little is known about the Whale shark's breeding habits. The clues 
are sparse, despite more than a century of observation. In 1910, a female 
examined in Ceylon had 16 egg cases in one of her oviducts. In 1955, 
J. L. Baughman of the Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission re- 
ported the discovery of an egg case in 31 fathoms of water 130 miles 
south of Port Isabel, Texas. The egg case contained a perfect embryo of 
a Whale shark, readily identified by the conspicuous checker board pat- 
tern of white dots and bars on its back. Baughman's discovery of the 

318 Shark and Company 

The only embryo and egg case of the Whale shark ( Rhincodon typus ) known to have 
been recorded was reported by J. L. Baughman of the Texas Game and Fish Commis- 
sion in 1955. The huge egg case with a perfect embryo inside was found off the Texas 
coast. The ruler gives a concept of its size. Note that the embryo has the distinctive 
marking of the Whale shark. Courtesy, Texas Game and Fish Commission 

king-sized egg case (27 inches long by 16 inches wide) finally proved 
that the Whale shark brings forth its progeny via egg capsules. 

Whale sharks are pelagic in the tropical seas of the Atlantic, the 
Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. But they have been caught as far north 
as Long Island, New York, and one collided with a ship about 380 miles 
east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Family Scyliorhinidae— Cat Sharks 
This is a vast and perplexing family. Ichthyologists do not agree 
on how many species there are— except to say that there are many 
and that they range the oceans of the world. Their common names are 
confusing. Some sharks which the British call Dogfish are actually 
members of this Cat shark family. And the same bewildering semantics 
apply to one of the sharks called Dogfish in the United States! 

The Cat shark, going under the name of Dogfish in U.S. Atlantic 

The Sharks— Fart One 


A Chain dogfish (Sctjliorhinus retifer) . 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and WiUiam C. Schroeder, 1948 

waters {Scyliorhimis retifer Garman, 1881), is the "Chain dogfish," so 
called because its body is criss-crossed by narrow dark stripes which 
give it the appearance of being wrapped in chains. 5. retifer, which 
grows to about 2^ feet, is found at or near the bottom along the con- 
tinental shelf from Cape Lookout, North Carolina, to northern New 
Jersey. Like all other known members of the Scyliorhinidae family, it is 
oviparous. Its brownish-amber egg cases are about 2 inches long. 

What the Britons call the Lesser Spotted dogfish is Scyliorhimis ca?ii- 
culus Linnaeus, 1758. The Britons' Large Spotted dogfish is Scyliorhimis 
stellaris Linnaeus, 1758. Both are found in the European Atlantic and the 

Three sharks, distinctive because of their peculiariyes, s^re also mem- 
bers of this family: the Swell shark {Cephaloscy Ilium utef), relatively 

i ne swell shark (Cephaloscyllium uter). 

Courtesy, California Bureau of Marine Fisheries 

320 Shark and Company 

common in southern Calif ornian inshore waters; and the South African 
Skaamoong sharks (Haploblepharus edwardsi and Holohalaelurus regani). 
The Swell shark fills its belly with air when taken from the water, and 
swells out like a balloon. It sometimes floats on the surface this way for 
several days. The Skaamoong sharks, also called "Shy Eyes," curl their 
tails over their eyes as if to shield them when they are taken from the 

Australia has a variety of Cat sharks, whose often startling color 
patterns can be visualized in their names: Black-Spotted, Marbled, and 
Draughtsboard (American translation: Checkerboard). The Australian 
Swell shark (Cephaloscy Ilium laticeps Dumeril, 1853) "can Hve more 
than one day out of water," Whitley reports. 

Most Cat sharks are small, rarely growing to more than 2 or 3 feet. 
In silhouette, many of them resemble some of the Nurse or Carpet 
sharks (Orectolobidae). But there is a slight though highly significant 
difference between the two families. The mouth and the nostrils of the 
Cat shark are generally separate and not joined by a groove, as are the 
mouth and the nostrils of the Orectolobidae. This seemingly inconse- 
quential difference means, in effect, that the Cat sharks have taken one 
step closer to the higher species of shark. 

Family Pseudotriakidae—¥ atuSE Cat Sharks 
On February 8, 1883, a strange shark was washed ashore at Amagan- 
sett. Long Island. The shark was not quite 10 feet long, and, at first 
glance, it appeared to be a Nurse shark. On second glance, it appeared 
to be a Cat shark. But under closer scrutiny, it did not look like any 
other shark ever seen by its finders, who were members of the crew of 
the Amagansett Life-Saving Station. 

Luckily for science (but not so fortunately for those scientists 
saddled with the task of classifying sharks), the odd shark was preserved 
and its exact measurements taken. Its most unusual feature— the one 
that removed it from all known shark species— was its long, low first 
dorsal fin, which was about as long as its tail fin. 

Until that chilly day in Amagansett, only one other such shark had 
been recorded by science. That one had been found in Portugal. For 

A False Cat shark (Pseudotriakis microdon). 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1948 

The Sharks— Part One 321 

want of a better, more precise common name, the Amagansett shark was 
dubbed the "Small-Toothed Nurse shark." 

Since 1883, fewer than a dozen of these odd sharks are known to 
have been taken in the Atlantic. All catches have been strictly by chance. 
One, for instance, was found in a pound net hauled up off Manasquan, 
New Jersey. 

These rare Atlantic sharks are called today False Cat sharks (Psendo- 
triakis microdot Brito Capello, 1867). A similar Pacific species (P. 
acrages Jordan and Snyder, 1904) has also been found in Japanese 

Most of the False Cat sharks have been caught in deep water— one was 
taken at a depth of nearly 5,000 feet. The assumption is that they are 
rare, deep-water sharks, prowling the depths in a range that includes 
at least Iceland (where three have been recorded) and the Cape Verde 
Islands (where one was taken). 

Family Triakidae—SMOOTH Dogfishes 

The 30-odd species in this world-wide family are a kind of link be- 
tween the Nurse and the Cat sharks and what are sometimes called the 
Requiem sharks (Carcharhhiidae), which have achieved a development 
higher up the shark spectrum. Triakidae, though usually small (5 feet 
or less), have the bodily outline of the typical shark, but their teeth are 
typically small, blunt, and pavement-like, as are the teeth of Nurse and 
the Cat sharks. Some of the most abundant sharks on both the Atlantic 
and the Pacific coasts of North America are members of this family. 

In the Atlantic, the Smooth dogfish {Miistelus canis Mitchell, 1815) 
is second only to the Spiny dogfish {Sqiiahts acanthias) in abundance 
along the southern New England and mid-Atlantic coasts. 

Someone once calculated that 10,000 Smooth dogfish could devour 
60,000 lobsters, 200.000 crabs, and 70,000 other fish in a single year. If 
10,000 Smooth dogfish were all the harassed fishermen had to contend 
with, they would have no problem. Like the Spiny dogfish, however, 
the Smooth dogfish can be counted in the millions. 

Around May 10th of each year, almost with the storied punctuality 
of the swallows coming back to Capistrano, Smooth dogfish arrive at 
the entrance of Long Island Sound. This is the beginning of a summer 
sojourn along the coasts of New Jersey, New York, and southern New 
England. Between early A4ay and mid-July, their young are born— hun- 
gry Httle sharks 13 to 14 inches long. Many of these newborn are 
scooped up in nets along the coast of southern New England. 

The Smooth dogfish embryo is nourished by a complex yolk-sac 
placenta, a prenatal system close to that of man. The Smooth dogfish's 
reproductive system, its intriguing sensory system, its small size (maxi- 

322 Shark and Company 

A Smooth dogfish ( Mustelus canis ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

mum length, 5 feet), and its abundance— all are attractions which make 
it a popular specimen for laboratory study in zoology and biology class- 
rooms. For this reason, large numbers are caught each year and preserved, 
making this slender, graceful little shark a species which has been in- 
tently studied for years. 

Like the Spiny dogfish, the Smooth dogfish is sensitive to temperature 
changes, and its migrations seem to be governed somewhat by water 
temperature. These Dogfish winter between the southern half of North 
CaroHna and the offing of Chesapeake Bay. A sudden chill in these win- 
ter waters will occasionally kill Smooth dogfish. Their summer visit 
along the coast from Delaware to Cape Cod ends abruptly, and they 
withdraw almost simultaneously from all points on the coast when the 
water cools. 

The Smooth dogfish stays fairly close to shore and is normally found 
in waters of less than 10 fathoms (60 feet). It is aided in its bottom- 
search for lobsters and crabs by its ability to change its color shading 
to blend with the background, to an extent unusual for sharks. Its range 
of color change spans tints from pearl to dark gray. 

Mustelus canis itself ranges from Cape Cod, and occasionally the 
Bay of Fundy, southward to Brazil and Uruguay in the western Atlantic. 
It is well known along the coasts of Great Britain, where it is called the 
Smooth Hound. It is found in the Gulf of Mexico and has been reported 
in the Calcasieu River of Louisiana, as far inland as Prien Lake. In South 
African waters, it is known as the Hound. (Apparently, they earned 
their canine common names from their habit of traveling in packs, or, 
to be piscatorial, schools.) A species similar to M. canis {Mustelus nor- 
risi Springer, 1939) is found in the Florida Keys and off the west coast 
of southern Florida. Two species (M. rmistelus Linnaeus, 1758, and 
M. asterias Cloquet, 1819) are known in the Mediterranean and the eastern 

Along the North American Pacific coast, three Smoothhounds are 
known: the Gray, the Sicklefin, and the Brown. 

The Sharks— Part One 


A Leopard shark ( Triakis semifasciata ) . 

Courtesy, California Bureau of Marine Fisheries 

Gray Smoothhound (Mustelus calif ornicus Gill, 1864) 

Common in the shallow waters of southern California, it ranges from 
northern California to Lower California. It grows to about IV2 feet. Its 
teeth— blunt, pavement-like, and without points— distinguish it from the 
Brown Smoothhound, whose teeth have sharp points. 

SicKLEFiN Smoothhound {Mustelus lunulatus Jordan and Gilbert, 1882) 
A 5-foot, 814-inch Sicklefin was recorded in San Diego, believed to 
be the northern limit of its range, which takes it as far south as Colombia. 
It differs principally from M. californicus by having slightly longer 
pectoral fins. 

Brown Smoothhound (Triakis henlei Gill, 1862) 

Studies have shown that this is the most abundant shark in San Fran- 
cisco Bay, making up an estimated half of the total shark population. 
It may well be the most abundant shark along the entire California Coast. 
It grows to about 38 inches. 

The Leopard shark {Triakis semifasciata Girard, 1854) is also a 
member of this family. The Leopard, a small shark whose maximum 
known length is around 5 feet, was, until recently, invariably described 
as "harmless"— a reckless word to apply to any shark. The Leopard has 
not been called harmless by anyone who knows of an inexplicable un- 
provoked attack a 3 -foot Leopard made in 1955 on a skin-diver in Trini- 
dad Bay, California. The skin-diver managed to fight oflF the little shark, 
and was not seriously injured. The shark was positively identified be- 
cause the Leopard has well-defined markings: a black crossband and 
black spots along its back and sides. Sometimes its undercoloring is iri- 

The Leopard, common in shallow waters along the southern Cali- 
fornia coast and in bays farther north, is found from Oregon to Magda- 
lena Bay, Lower California. 

chapter 12 

The Sharks— 
Part Two 

The largest family of sharks is the Carcha- 
rhinidae, whose 60-odd species, classed 
in about 15 genera, encompass the familiar sharks found throughout the 
world— and many that are feared. The sharks of this family are sometimes 
known as Requiem sharks because of their reputation for causing death. 
The funereal name still persists in the French word for shark, requin. 

The physiological oddities found in many of the sharks already men- 
tioned—the flat bodies, the unusual arrangement of fins— are not found in 
these species, for they are all "typical sharks." 

The genus with the most species is Eulamia {Carcharhinusy. The 
sharks of this genus begin our roll of the Requiems. 

Family Carcharhinidae—KEQViEM Sharks 

Brown Shark 

[Eulamia {Car char hinus) milberti Miiller and Henle, 1841] 

(Also Known as Sandbar Shark, New York Ground Shark) 

As the summer's heat drives throngs of bathers to the cooling waters 

of the Atlantic Ocean shore from New England to Florida, schools of 

Brown sharks head for the same waters. European relatives of the Brown 

shark also enter the warm lagoons of the Mediterranean— and even prowl 

the canals of Venice, startling gondoliers and their blissful passengers. 

One August day in 1916, Edwin Thorne, a sports fisherman who 
hunted sharks as a hobby, cruised the waters of Great South Bay, Long 
Island, between Lindenhurst and Great River. He reported seeing at 
least 200 Brown sharks on that one day. As many as 14 of these 6- to 
8-foot sharks have been harpooned in Great South Bay in a single day. 
(It is called the Sandbar shark because of its habit of appearing as it 
crosses a sandbar, then disappearing again on the other side.) 

1 Eulamia and Carcharhinus are both used by reputable classifiers to designate the 
genera of certain species of the Carcharhinidae. Eulamia seems to be generally ac- 
cepted, currently. 


The Sharks— Part Two 325 

The summertime meanderings of the Brown shark take it into the 
busiest harbor in the world— the bustling, sprawling 650 miles of naviga- 
ble waterfront that is the Port of New York. The Brown shark also 
enters the shallow waters of bays and river mouths. It is probably the 
only sizable shark that regularly visits the small bays on the populous 
north shore of Long Island. 

Its appearance in Great South Bay, on Long Island's south shore, and 
in other sheltered waters around Long Island, seems to be inspired by 
a habit of bringing forth its young in protected waters, rather than in 
exposed ocean shore waters. In these shark nurseries, schools consist- 
ing almost exclusively of female Brown sharks appear each summer. 
Their young— about 8 to 12 in each litter— are born from June to 
August in the Long Island bays. Births also apparently take place in 
September in Chesapeake Bay, which may mark the southern boundary 
of the Brown shark's maternity ward on the Atlantic coast during these 

The pups grow into sharks that weigh about 100 pounds at 6 feet 
and about 200 pounds at 7 to 8 feet. They are brownish gray or slate gray 
above, shading to a pale tint of the same color or whitish below. 

The Brown shark inhabits the western Atlantic, from southern New 
England to southern Florida and southern Brazil. It is found in the Gulf 
of Mexico. 

The Gambuso shark (Carcharhinus azureus Gilbert and Starks, 1904) 
of the Pacific also resembles the Brown shark enough to be a twin. The 
Gambuso ranges from southern California to Ecuador. [The Pacific coast 
also has another shark, colloquially known as the Brown shark, but it is a 
completely different species of another family. This Brown shark (Apris- 
turus brunneus Gilbert, 1891) is found from Alaska to southern Cali- 
fornia. It grows to about 3 feet and is usually hauled up from very deep 
water. One was caught in British Columbia's Howe Sound at 1,020 feet.] 

Brown shark (Eulamia [Carcharhinus] milberti). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

326 Shark and Company 

Dusky shark {Eulamia [Carcharhinus] obscurus). 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Sohroeder, 1948 

Dusky Shark 

[EulaTnia {Carcharhmiis) obscurus hesueur, 1818] 
(Also Known as Shovelnose Shark, Dusky Ground Shark) 

The Dusky shark is called a man-killer by one expert, and is dis- 
missed as harmless by another. Its Latin species name, obscurus, would 
seem to fit this shark. Although known as a distinct species since 1818, 
the Dusky is still an enigma, and a confusing enigma at that, for it is 
often mistaken for the Brown shark. 

The two sharks do superficially resemble each other. But the Dusky, 
which grows to at least 12 and perhaps 14 feet, is bigger than the Brown 
shark. The Dusky is slimmer, presents a different silhouette and does not 
have the same coloration. The Dusky is bluish, leaden gray or pale gray 
above and white below. The lower surfaces of its pelvic fins are grayish 
and sooty toward the tips. 

The Dusky is found on both sides of the Atlantic, at sea and close 
to shore, on the western side from southern Massachusetts to southern 
Florida; on the eastern side from the Mediterranean coast of Spain to 
South Africa. It is also a Gulf of Mexico resident. 

Small Black-Tipped Shark 
[Eulamia (Carcharhinus) limbatus Miiller and Henle, 1841] 
(Also Known as Spot-Fin Shark, Black-Tip Shark, Carconetta) 
Schools of Small Black-Tipped sharks have been seen swiftly skim- 
ming along the surface, far at sea. Occasionally, a shark will leap star- 
tlingly into the air, do as many as three spectacular somersaults, and fall 
back into the sea. 

These stunts have endeared the acrobatic little Black-Tipped to game 
fishermen. But their performance on the hook is not consistent: it varies 
from vigorous to merely resolute. Anglers trolling for tarpon have found 
this out, for they often hook Small Black-Tipped sharks instead. 

The Sharks— Part Two 327 

The Small Black-Tipped shark feeds on smaller fishes, such as men- 
haden in the Atlantic and sardines in the Pacific, and Sting rays, whose 
stingers are often found imbedded in the sharks' jaws. A relatively small 
shark, rarely growing to 7 or 8 feet, the Small Black-Tipped is itself 
sometimes a meal for the larger oceanic sharks such as the Tiger shark. 

The conspicuously black-tipped fins of this shark are seen in tropi- 
cal and sub-tropical seas. In the western Atlantic, it ranges from the 
Gulf of Mexico and southern Brazil to North Carolina and sometimes 
to New York and southern New England. In the eastern Atlantic, it is 
found off" tropical West Africa, in the waters around the Cape Verde 
Islands, and around Madeira. In the eastern Pacific, it is found from 
Lower California to Peru. This or a very similar species has also been 
reported off China, India, and Madagascar, and in the Red Sea. 

Dark gray, dusky bronze, or ashy blue above, its trim body is pure 
white or yellowish white below, with a band of dark upper color ex- 
tending backward along each side, and the pale color of its lower parts 
extending forward. Its pectoral fins are black-tipped. The dorsal and 
anal fins and the lower lobe of the tail fin are black-tipped in the young, 
but the color usually fades with age. Its eye has been described as cat- 
like: greenish yellow bisected by a black band. 

Large Black-Tipped Shark 

{Carcharhinus maciiUpinms Poey, 1865) 

On May 31st, 1944, Mary Ann Shands, aged 15, was swimming in 

waist-deep water off Mayport, Florida, near Jacksonville. Suddenly, 

something slashed the calf of her leg. She looked down and saw a shark, 

which darted away. Its fins were tipped with black. 

Subsequent investigation by Stewart Springer of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service established beyond a doubt that the attacker was a 
Large Black-Tipped shark only 5^2 to 6% feet long. Its size and species 


Small Black-tipped shark (Eulamia [Carcharhinus] limhatus). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

328 Shark and Cofnpany 

were determined by the imprint of the wounds. A Large Black-Tipped 
shark's maximum length is about 8 feet. 

Because of its resemblance to Eulaifiia (Carcharhifms) Urn bams, the 
Large Black-Tipped shark has long been confused with its slightly 
smaller relative. It travels in schools and has the same habit of leaping 
that the Small Black-Tipped displays. It frequently follows shrimp 
trawlers feeding on trash fish that are thrown overboard. It is found in 
the Gulf of Mexico, and off Cuba, Puerto Rico, and southern Florida. 
A similar Black-Tipped shark is known in Australia, India, and South 

The two kinds of Black-Tipped sharks can be distinguished by the 
fact that the Small Black-Tipped has larger eyes and shorter gill slits 
than the Large Black-Tipped. 

White-Tipped Shark 
[Pterolamiops (Carcharhmus) longimanus Poey, 1861] 

In 1956, the A?idrea Doria, en route to New York from Europe, 
collided with another ship 60 miles off Nantucket Light and sank 40 
fathoms to the bottom of the Atlantic. Today the once proud Italian 
luxury liner is a barnacled den for thousands of fish— and a hunting 
ground for sharks. 

Skin-divers Peter R. Gimbel and Joseph Fox visited the Andrea Doria 
a little more than a year after she sank, and met the sharks that are her 
sentries. One made a feint at Gimbel and he drove a knife into its snout. 
It had white-tipped fins that glimmered in the darkness. It, and probably 
its companions, were White-Tipped sharks, ocean-roaming wanderers 
hardly ever seen near land. 

The White-Tipped is another of the many sharks we know little 
about. The research vessel Atlantis spotted several hundred White- 
Tipped sharks about 50 miles off the Massachusetts coast in June of 
1941. A recent U.S. Fish and Wildhfe Service report said that the White- 
Tipped was responsible for most of the damage to tuna caught on long- 
line fishing gear in the Gulf of Mexico, and was one of the most abun- 
dant sharks in the warm waters of the North Atlantic. It is believed to 
grow to 12 or 13 feet in length, but most of those that are caught are 
around 8 feet. 

The Fish and Wildlife report on observation of White-Tipped sharks 
in the Atlantic noted a curious association: "On several occasions we 
have seen one or several 'dolphins' (Coryphaena hippuriis) [the fish, 
not the mammal] . . . swimming with the shark. They are generally to 
the rear or one side of the shark." Eight to ten fish were seen accompany- 
ing one shark. 

In the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the White-Tipped is 

The Sharks— Part Two 329 

feared, but, since its shoreline appearances are rare, its sinister reputa- 
tion to date rests upon mere suspicion. 

The White-Tipped shark's coloring is not always so distinctive as its 
name implies. It body is light gray or pale brown to slaty blue above; 
yellowish or dirty white below. The tips of its dorsal fins are sometimes 
pure white and sometimes grayish. 

The White-Tipped is known to range the warm waters of the Atlan- 
tic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. [The Australian 
so-called "White Tip shark," found also in the Indian Ocean, the Red and 
the Arabian Seas, and around many Pacific island groups, is quite an- 
other species, Triae?iodo?7 obesus, a member of the family Triakidae] . 

Bay Shark 
(Carcharhmiis lamiella Jordan and Gilbert, 1882) 

This big shark, which grows to at least 12 and probably 15 feet, 
was once so common in San Diego Bay that it became familiarly known 
as the Bay shark. In recent years, for reasons unknown, it has been 
more often found at the southern end of its range, which dips down to 
the central western coast of Mexico. 

The Bay shark is certainly a potentially dangerous shark. It closely 
resembles the Bronze whaler (Carcharhinus ahenea Stead, 1938) of Aus- 
tralia. The Bronze whaler, like the Bay shark, is of a golden bronze 
color. Australians say that its body gleams in the water "like a bright new 
penny," albeit an unlucky one. 


Several species of dreaded sharks are called Whalers in Australia and 
New Zealand. The common name was given these voracious sharks by 
old-time whalemen whose catches were invariably attacked by swarms 
of sharks. Whaler is also a loosely applied common name for some sharks 
found in South African waters. 

The Common whaler or Black whaler of Australia {Carcharhinus 
macriirus Ramsey and Ogilby, 1887) is described by Whitley as "very 

Black whaler (Galeolamna [Carcharhinus] macrurus). 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

330 Shark and Company 

dangerous to man, a proved attacker of human beings." One of the 
largest on record— 12 feet long, 890 pounds— was caught in 1936 by 
Zane Grey off Bateman's Bay, New South Wales. "Of all the attacks on 
human beings recorded from Austrahan waters," writes T. C. Rough- 
ley,^ "there have been two occasions only when some portion of the 
body of the person attacked has been found in the stomach of a shark 
captured shortly afterwards; both were Black Whalers." 

The South Australian whaler or Cocktail shark {Carcharh'miis greyi 
Owen, 1853) is found in the waters of southern and southwestern Aus- 
tralia. Little is known of it, except for the fact that it appears to be a 
relatively small shark which frequently ascends the Swan River, near 
Perth, Australia. Its river-swimming habits have earned for it the addi- 
tional common name of Swan River whaler. 

Other species include the Brown and the Bronze whalers which are 
rated as potentially very dangerous. A 14-foot Bronze whaler killed a 
spearfisherman off Normanville Beach, south of Adelaide, in December, 

Silky Shark 
(Carcharhimis florid amis Bigelow, Schroeder and Springer, 1943) 

This shark, common in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, is 
another of the larger— 8 to 10 feet— of the Carcharhinid family, and a 
good example of how little we still know about sharks. 

Despite its abundance and its size, it was not scientifically pinned 
down until 1943 in the Atlantic and 1953 in the Pacific. "That a shark 
so common, so large and so easily recognized should have continued 
unknown for so long casts an unflattering light on the scientific knowl- 
edge of the group to which it belongs," say Bigelow and Schroeder. 

Fishermen have long known it in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and around 
southern Florida in the Atlantic, and offshore in the warm waters of the 
Pacific. It is called the Silky shark because its denticles are so small 
that its skin feels smooth to the touch. 

The Silky shark is sometimes confused in the Atlantic with a similar 
big shark {Carcharhimis falciformis Miiller and Henle, 1841). But the 
Silky shark's pectorals are much longer, its eye is smaller, and the tip 
of its snout is narrower. Both sharks have a ridge that runs down the 
back between the first and second dorsal fins. 

Cub Shark 

(Carcharhifius leiicas Miiller and Henle, 1841) 

(Also Known as Bull Shark, Ground Shark, Requiem Shark) 

From May through July, drawn by one of those strange stirrings of 

instinct that govern the realm of nature, female Cub sharks converge 

2 T. C. Roughley, Fish and Fisheries of Australia (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 

The Sharks— Part Two 331 

in the tawny waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River and there 
bring forth their young. 

Brackish waters, where the flow of the river mingles with the salt 
of the sea, are a favored nursery for the Cub shark. It roams shoal 
waters, loiters around wharves and docks, patrols passages between is- 
lands, and explores estuaries that empty into the sea. The fisherman of 
these parts who prefers the steady wharf to the rolling deck will catch 
a Cub shark more often than any other species of shark. 

The Cub shark is believed to reach at least 10 feet in length and 
may weigh up to 400 pounds. A slow swimmer that rarely shows itself 
at the surface, it scavenges for most of its food, and will indiscriminately 
take practically any offal that is tossed into the sea. When such effortlessly 
obtained food is not available, however, the Cub shark will pursue prey, 
which it can dispatch with the efficiency that is a Carcharhijiid hall- 
mark. A Manta ray (Mobula) consumed by one captured Cub shark 
had been bitten into five precise pieces. 

Attendants at the Miami Seaquarium on Key Biscayne, Florida, re- 
gard Cub sharks as extremely savage— more so than any other species 
on exhibition. One of the names it is known by in the Gulf of Mexico- 
Requiem shark— is evidence of the long-held suspicion that the Cub 
shark will attack men. The Cub shark's fresh-water form, the Lake 
Nicaragua shark [Carcharhimis ?ncaragiiensis) is a notorious man-killer. 
In Florida waters. Cub sharks have been suspected in many reported 
attacks. They grow to 10 feet and about 400 pounds in weight, so there is 
no question of their being able to practice the habit of anthropophagy. 

The Cub shark ranges the western Atlantic from southern Brazil to 
North Carolina and occasionally as far north as New York. It is abun- 
dant in the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico, and it is one of the most 
numerous sharks in the waters off the Texas coast. 

Carcharhinus is only one of the genera in this big family. Here are 
several other sharks which belong to other genera, but which are mem- 
bers of the family Carcharhinidae. 

Lemon Shark 
(Negaprion brevirostris Poey, 1868) 

The Lemon shark stays close to shore and occasionally pokes into 
the mouths of rivers. Its favorite haunts are among the Florida Keys, on 
the southern and southwestern coasts of Florida, where it is one of the 
most common of the larger sharks, and up the west coast as far north 
as Tampa and Pensacola. 

It is found, too, in the coastal waters of the western Atlantic, from 
northern Brazil to North Carolina, and, as a stray, in New Jersey. It is 
suspected— but not absolutely convicted— of attacks on bathers in Flor- 
ida. It is known to grow to about 1 1 feet. 

332 Shark and Company 


Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) . 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

Yellowish brown, dark brown, or bluish gray above, its sides are 
yellowish or greenish olive, shading to white, pale yellow, or grayish 
yellow below. It has a bluntly rounded snout. The Lemon resembles 
the Cub shark, but it can be distinguished from the Cub by its coloring 
and the fact that its dorsal fins are practically the same size. The Cub's 
second dorsal fin is less than one half as large as its first dorsal. 

Great Blue Shark 
(Prionace glaiica Linnaeus, 1758) 
(Also Known as Blue Whaler, Blue Shark) 
The suspicion has been accumulating for centuries that this long, 
slim, blue shark should be indicted as a man-killer, but there is no posi- 
tive record of a Great Blue's being caught in the act. Many a seaman, 
from the age of sail until the present, would attest to the Great Blue's 
man-eating habits, however. Certainly the Great Blue has the necessary 
equipment— sharp, saw-edged teeth, and the size— a length of 15 to 20 
feet, at least. It has also frequently shown its rapacity before the eyes of 

Here is an eyewitness description of Great Blue sharks swarming 
around captured whales during a whaling expedition: 

Whenever a whale was killed, the sharks would uncannily begin to congre- 
gate, like hyenas round a dead lion, assembling so rapidly that the sea would 
be fairly alive with them by the time the whale had been towed alongside the 
ship. The hungry troop would then file silently and slowly along the whale's 
length, fondly rubbing tail fins against his black bulk, and doubtless anticipating 
the feast of the "cutting in." During the execution of this process, when the 
water for an acre around the ship was stained a ghastly yellow from outpouring 
blood, the scrambling sharks would make the sea a living mass as each fish tried 
to bury its teeth into the exposed surfaces of dark red muscle. Now and then 
a shark would flounder right on top of the whale, and cling there until a 
descending blubber spade had put an end to its ambitions . . . 

This description did not come from an excited landlubber or a whaler 
spinning a yarn. The authors of this 1916 report were two highly re- 

The Sharks— Part Two 333 

Great Blue shark {Prionace glauca). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

spected marine scientists: Doctors John Treadwell Nichols and Robert 
Cushman Murphy. 

The Great Blue is probably one of the unidentified villains of many 
sea stories about ravenous sharks. Sailors claim, for instance, that a Great 
Blue will appear astern of a ship when a man aboard dies, and will 
ghoulishly trail the ship until the body is committed to the sea. Nichols 
and Murphy told of a voyage aboard a whaler when a seaman died. Two 
or three Great Blues, about 7 feet long, and another species of shark, did 
appear at the vessel's stern that day. "The old, old maritime conviction 
that these hated brutes had come expressly for the body was breathed 
about the ship," the scientists reported. "But . . . the sharks paid no 
attention when the dead man was consigned to the waters, and they 
followed uninterruptedly in our wake for several days." 

Though an oceanic shark, the Great Blue occasionally noses into 
shore in its ceaseless search for food. It is the most abundant large oceanic 
shark of the Atlantic. Nichols and Murphy told of seeing "hundreds- 
even thousands" in relatively small areas of the Atlantic. In an hour's 
run 4 to 10 miles off Block Island in 1943, 28 were counted, and 150 to 
200 were seen from a single boat in one day. 

Along the North American Pacific coast, it is found both on the high 
seas and in waters close to shore from British Columbia to the Gulf of 
California. When warm currents bathe California's bathing and skin- 
diving mecca of Monterey Bay, numerous Great Blues sweep in. They 
are easily spotted, for they often swim with both their dorsals and their 
tail fins exposed. Sometimes they even "bask" at the surface. They are 
easily identified by the big, sickle-shaped pectoral fins, as long as their 
heads, and by their striking, dark indigo-blue color, which shades to 
snow white on their undersides. Their sleek form, their long, graceful 
pectoral fins, and their coloring make them one of the most beautiful of 

The Great Blues may be the most abundant of the pelagic sharks of 
the Pacific. On U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tuna fishing explorations 
in the Pacific, as much as 46 per cent of the catch has been stolen or 

334 Shark and Company 

mutilated by sharks, especially Great Blues. The catch of one expedi- 
tion included 6,000 sharks. Of these 2,500 were Great Blues, more than 
any of the other eight species caught. Not only were Great Blues the most 
abundant, they were also the most widely distributed sharks. On a map 
charting the domains of various species of sharks in the Pacific, the realm 
of the Great Blue appears as a huge shadow that stretches along the 
coast of North America and extends outward, beyond mid-Pacific. 

They are common, too, off the west coast of Africa, and, in the 
warm months, off the south and west coasts of England, north to Scot- 
land. British sports fishermen catch thousands of Great Blues every 
year off Looe, Cornwall. (The English don't call the Great Blue great; 
"Blue shark" is their British name.) 

Practically all of the Blue sharks caught off Cornwall are gravid fe- 
males that have migrated there to drop their pups. Just the opposite is 
true of the catch on the western side of the North Atlantic— these are 
almost invariably males. The separation of the sexes at calving time has 
been observed among many species of sharks, possibly because these 
species practice cannibalism. 

The Great Blue includes exotic fare in its diet— flying fish and sea 
birds resting on the surface. But it is not too proud to scavenge offal 
from ships it sometimes follows for days or weeks. 

Like most oceanic sharks, the Great Blue brings forth her young 
alive, and prolifically. A Great Blue less than 10 feet long can give birth 
to 50 young, each about 1 foot in length. 

Tiger Shark 
(Galeocerdo cuvieri Lesueur, 1822) 
(Also Known as Leopard Shark) ^ 

The Tiger shark is generally considered to be one of the most dan- 
gerous sharks a man can encounter. At least two Tigers caught off Florida 
had parts of human bodies in them. The men may or may not have been 
alive when the Tigers found them. 

In the West Indies, the Tiger is feared as the most dangerous of the 
many types of sharks that prowl those waters. In Australia, many attacks 
on bathers have been blamed on Tigers. In India, the Tiger is accused 
of man-eating along both the eastern and the western coasts. 

Cannibalism is so often practiced by voracious Tiger sharks that 
some observers of the Tiger's ruthlessness believe that smaller Tigers 
deliberately give wide berth to their bigger relatives. On a Tiger shark 
hunt in Philippine waters, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vessel's crew 

^ The true Leopard is vastly different in size, shape, and species from the Tiger 
shark {Galeocerdo cuvieri). But, unfortunately, the Tiger is sometimes referred to as 
a "Leopard," in still another case of confusing Selachian name-calling. 

The Sharks-Part Two 335 

saw a demonstration of the Tiger's cannibalism and rapacity. A large 
female Tiger shark ate a smaller one struggling on a hook. Then, still 
hungry, she immediately grabbed at a baited hook and was captured 
herself. Tigers caught on this cruise had in their bellies turdes, squid, 
crabs, sea birds, poisonous sea snakes, other sharks— and an unlucky 
black cat. 

Tigers caught in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas had cormorants and 
small migratory birds in their stomachs. A 14- footer landed at Durban, 
South Africa, had inside it the head and forequarters of a crocodile, the 

Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvieri] 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder, 1948 

hind leg of a sheep, three seagulls, two (unopened) two-pound cans of 
green peas, and a cigarette tin. 

The omnivorous Tiger bites with a rolling motion of its powerful 
jaws, so that its big, saw-edged teeth chop large prey into several pieces. 
In this way, a twelve-foot Tiger was able to devour another shark 10 
feet long. A Tiger seen in Australia with a portion of a Thresher shark's 
tail protruding from its jaws was probably in the process of chopping 
the Thresher into bite-size pieces. 

Many incredible items have been found in the stomachs of sharks of 
undetermined species. Though the items have been reported, the species 
of shark often has not been given. Knowing what identified Tiger sharks 
have eaten, however, it seems likely that Tigers were often the gluttons 
that gobbled down such morsels as these: dogs (often harness and all), 
boots, sacks of coal, a bag of potatoes (some of which had sprouted), 
beer bottles— and, in a single shark, three overcoats, a raincoat, and a 
driver's license. Also, a pair of old pants, a pair of shoes, a cow's hoof, 
the horns of a deer, twelve undigested lobsters, and a chicken coop with 
a few feathers and bones left inside! 

The eating habits of certain sharks may astound ichthyologists, but 
at least one shark— a Mackerel— managed to baffle oceanographers, too. 
This one swallowed a drift bottle, released by the Fisheries Research 
Board of Canada through its biological station at St. Andrews, New 

336 Shark and Company 

Brunswick. The bottle was one of many thrown in to get information 
on ocean currents. The shark that took to the indigestible bottle was 
landed by a fisherman about 150 miles off the western tip of Nova 

Australia's sharks have consumed what Whitley calls, with considera- 
ble understatement, "curious meals." Some of the meals he describes 
include a half-dozen hens and a rooster, apparently from a coop that 
had washed into the water; the brass casing of an 18-pound shell, and, 
in one shark: a full-grown spaniel with the collar on, a porpoise's skull, 
and the remains of sea birds. 

The list of human remains found in sharks is long and grisly. In 
1949, a young woman in western Australia was attacked by a shark 
which tore off her left arm above the elbow. Several days later, a large 
shark was caught near the scene of the attack. In it was found the wom- 
an's arm, with a ring still on one of its fingers. The ring was returned to 
her, and she resumed wearing it on her remaining hand. 

Author-explorer Adrian Conan Doyle tells of seeing a shark in Zan- 
zibar that had within it a bag of money and a human skull.* Usually, 
the identity of such victims is never determined, nor can it be learned 
whether they were consumed as corpses or as living men. But sometimes 
bathing suits, dental work, bits of clothing or fingerprints can lead to 
the discovery of who they were, at least, if not how they died. 

The story is told in Pensacola, Florida, of a shark that was caught 
there many years ago. In it was found a man's leg, the foot of which 
still wore a new shoe. A fisherman had left port a few days before and 
never returned. Before he went to sea he had bought a new pair of 
shoes. The shoe on the leg in the shark was one of them. On this evi- 
dence, the leg— and the shoe— were buried as the only remains of the 
vanished fisherman. 

There are at least two well-verified stories of sharks gulping down 
explosives. One dynamite dinner was reported by two Puerto Rican 
fishermen in a shark they caught shortly after several mysterious bomb- 
ings in San Juan. A $500 reward had been posted for information leading 
to the capture of the bombers. The shark-catchers claimed the reward, 
but they didn't get it. What the shark had swallowed was an explosive 
charge used two months before in blasting operations around the entrance 
to San Juan harbor. Another explosive-fancying shark gulped a depth 
charge released by a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey ship which was 
making soundings in the Pacific. The charge, about the size of a coconut, 
was fixed to explode some seconds after it entered the water. Several 
seconds after it entered the shark, it went off, establishing for all time 
that there is at least one sure way to kill a shark. 

■* Adrian Conan Doyle, Heaven Has Claws (New York: Random House, 1953). 

A 13-foot, 1,200-pound Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvieri) is examined by Honolulu 
businessman Bill Wills, who offered awards for shark catches in Hawaiian waters. 
This shark was caught in the waters off Nanakuli, Oahu, Hawaii. 

Courtesy, Honolulu Star-Bullet iri 


338 Shark and Company 

Sharks also eat sharks. Dr. Russell J. Coles, describing sharks he 
caught off Cape Lookout, North Carolina, told of finding in one Tiger 
shark 1 1 chunks of shark meat, weighing 1 to 5 pounds each, and repre- 
senting at least three shark species. 

The Tiger, brilliantly striped when young, is born in beautiful birth 
robes. Norman Caldwell, an Australian naturalist, gave a vivid descrip- 
tion^ of the richly hued raiments of the embryos found in a Tiger nearly 
12 feet long. "What drew our attention most," Caldwell reported, "were 
the babies. They were very much alive and struggling to work their 
way free of water-filled sacs that contained them. Those sacs had as 
many colors as Joseph's coat. As each baby shark came forth, long swad- 
dling clothes of shot silk were wrapped around the small embryo. The 
colors were wonderful, being interwoven into the long streamers." 
Broods of 30 to 50 embryos are common, and 82 young were found in 
one 18-footer caught off Cuba. 

The Tiger, known to reach 18 feet in length and reputed to grow 
to 30 feet, weighs 1,000 to 1,300 pounds at 13 to 14 feet. It is one of the 
commonest large sharks found in the tropics, particularly in the Carib- 
bean and the Gulf of Mexico. It is also found along the Atlantic coast in 
the warm months. It often appears close to shore, and sometimes enters 
river mouths and enclosed sounds. Its appearances have been rare along 
the coast of southern California. Extremely large Tiger sharks— up to 
30 feet— have been reported in the Indian Ocean. 

The Tiger is usually a slow-moving shark, but, when alerted to a 
meal by its keen senses, it becomes a fast, determined swimmer. Its 
habit of prowling in shallow waters for food makes it a definite menace 
to bathers. It is found in all tropical, subtropical, and frequently in 
temperate seas. 

Young Tigers, up to 5 or 6 feet long, have dark brown spots or 
stripes on their sides. But these "Tiger" markings usually fade with 
growth, and the color of its body turns gray or grayish brown, lightening 
on the sides and belly. 

SouPFiN Shark 
(Galeorhinus zyopterus Jordan and Gilbert, 1883) 
Chinese shark fin soup connoisseurs in California prized the fins of 
this shark so highly that it became known as the Soupfin shark. During 
World War II, however, the discovery of high-potency vitamin A in 
the Soupfin's liver touched off a great demand for it, and gave it a new 
name: the Oil shark. 

5 Norman Caldwell, Titans of the Barrier Reef (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 

The Sharks— Part Two 339 

Soupfin shark {Galeorhinus zyopterus). 

Courtesy, California Board of Marine Fisheries 

For a time, fishermen made so much money from this shark's liver 
that they dubbed it "gray gold." If an accounting were to be made, 
however, it would undoubtedly show that, in the long run, the Soupfin 
has cost the fisherman more money than it has earned him. It seeks in- 
shore waters from northern British Columbia and Alaska to central lower 
California, and wherever it goes it attacks netted fish or feeds upon 
fishes sought by fishermen— from sardines and anchovies to mackerel 
and salmon. 

A4ales are seldom caught. A study of some 5,000 Soupfins caught off 
California showed that only 31 were males. Females are heavier and 
longer than males— 6^ feet compared to 6 feet; 100 pounds compared to 
60 pounds. 

The same or a very similar species is known in England as the Tope, 
Penny dog, Toper, Miller's dog, or Rig. The School shark of Australia 
(Galeorhinus australis Macleay, 1881) is also very similar to the Soupfin. 


A single known species of shark, the Lake Nicaragua shark {Car- 
charh'miis nicaraguensis Gill and Bransford, 1877), has fully adapted 
itself to Hfe in fresh water. This large shark, now believed identical 
with C. leiicas, the Cub shark, known to reach 8 feet in length and re- 
ported to grow to at least 10 feet, lives in Lake Nicaragua, the great lake 
of that Central American country, whose only connection with the sea 
is the winding, rapids-filled, 1 30-mile San Juan River, which flows into 
the Caribbean on the eastern coast of Nicaragua. 

The Cub shark (also known as Ground or Bull shark) is itself a 
roamer into fresh, or at least brackish, waters. It has also been found in 
the iMiraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, where the waters of numerous 
lakes mingle with the waters of two oceans. It has been taken in Lake 
Yzabal, Guatemala, and has been reliably reported in the Atchafalaya 
River of Louisiana, 160 miles from the sea. Also, Cub sharks allegedly 

340 Shark and Co77ipa?iy 

The Lake Nicaragua shark (Carcharhinus nicaraguensis) . 

Courtesy, The Sears Foundation for Marine Research from 
Fishes of the Western North Atlantic by Henry B. Bigelow and Wilham C. Schroeder, 1948 

have been caught far inland in the roadside canals that lace south central 

Sharks are not the only oceanic dwellers in the 100-mile-long Lake 
Nicaragua. Tarpon are found there, as are the shark's close relatives, 
the Sawfish, and the inevitable companions of sharks, remoras. Lake 
Nicaragua's sharks, known to scientists only since 1877, seem to be a par- 
ticularly nasty breed. In the spring of 1944, a single shark attacked three 
persons near Granada, the lake's principal town. Two of the victims died. 
Natives say that at least one person a year is claimed by the sharks. Nu- 
merous dogs have been devoured by the sharks, which are locally re- 
nowned for their voracious appetites. They will readily seize meat or 
fresh-fish bait. 

Between Lake Nicaragua and much smaller Lake Managua is an 
erratically flowing river, the Tipitapa. Waters of Lake Managua, which 
is about 15 feet higher than Lake Nicaragua, are believed to flow into 
Lake Nicaragua underground. But about once every decade or so, 
the normally dry riverbed of the Tipitapa is coursed by water from Lake 
Managua. Thus, at these times, the water connection between the two 
lakes is indisputable. Yet neither sharks, sawfish, nor tarpon have ever 
been reported in Lake Managua. 

The two lakes, like much of the western portion of Nicaragua itself 
and the entire Central American isthmus, lie on a restless part of the 
earth's crust. A string of 23 volcanoes, many of them still active, runs 
down the western side of Nicaragua. One of the active peaks, Concepcion, 
rises from the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. Another volcano 
in the long Une of peaks, Coseguina, literally blew its top in 1835, ex- 
ploding with a roar heard in Bogota, 1,100 miles away, and spewing 

The Sharks-Part Tivo 341 

volcanic ash 150 miles out to sea. In 1931, a massive earthquake leveled 
Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. And 2,000 to 5,000 years ago, near 
Managua, a volcanic eruption left a memorial to its victims. Cast for- 
ever in hardened mud are the footprints of humans, a deer, a cat, and 
other animals that fled the eruption. The mud changed into stone, leaving 
the prints as stark as they were on the dav they were made. 

From evidence such as this, geologists have spun the theory that 
Lakes Nicaragua and A4anagua were once part of a huge bay of the 
Pacific, which was sealed off when the earth erupted long in the past. 
When the cataclysmic writhing of the earth ceased, the bay had van- 
ished. In its place was a thick arm of earth with the Pacific on one side 
of it and two lakes on the other. Trapped within the lakes, according to 
this theory, were numerous sea fishes. As rivers flowing into the newly 
formed lakes gradually freshened them, some of the marine fish— the 
sharks, sawfish, and tarpon, at least— adapted themselves to fresh water 
and survived. 

But why have sharks appeared only in Lake Nicaragua? The geo- 
logic theory does not answer this. Nor does it answer the claims of 
natives (never adequately investigated by ichthyologists) that tivo 
kinds of sharks live in Lake Nicaragua— reddish-bellied tintoreros and 
white-bellied visitante or immigrante. The natives around the lake insist 
that the visitante are smaller and livelier than the tintoreros because 
the visitante have had to enter the lake by making their way up the 
rapids of the San Juan River, the lake's link to the sea. 

Despite the sandbars and the rapids that make the San Juan a difficult 
river to navigate, a shark could struggle up the river and into the lake. 
In fact, even today natives fear the shark of the river as much as they 
fear the shark of the lake. And the San Juan was long navigable, even 
to ships. Though virtually impassable to ships today, the San Juan in the 
nineteenth century formed part of a circuitous route, little known to 
readers today, to the gold fields of California. Gold-hunters from the 
East Coast of the United States, rushing to join the forty-niners, took 
ships in the States that deposited them at the mouth of the San Juan on 
the Caribbean coast. There they boarded riverboats operated by Com- 
modore Cornelius Vanderbilt, journeyed up the San Juan to Lake Nica- 
ragua, and crossed the lake. At the western side of the lake, they boarded 
stage coaches that carried them to the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, where 
they embarked for California. As recently as 1882, at least, a good-sized 
ship was able to navigate the San Juan. In that year, the steamer Victoria 
was built in Wilmington, Delaware, sailed down to the mouth of the 
San Juan, made its way up the river, and entered the lake. 

If ships could do it, why not sharks? 

But if the existence of sharks in Lake Nicaragua is explained by 

342 Shark and Company 

the river route, the mystery is still not fully solved, for there is no 
obvious explanation of what lured them into the lake. 

Sharks have given birth when captured in the lake, but whether they 
breed there is not definitely known. Certainly they have been prolific. 
A woman who caught sharks for a living reported in 1953 a catch of 
2,008 of them in 6 months. A fisherman at the same time told of catch- 
ing nearly 7,000 in 8 months. Only two, he said, were tintoreros. These 
may sound Hke fish stories, but it is a matter of record that so abundant 
—and notorious— were the sharks of Lake Nicaragua that a bounty on 
them was posted by Granada authorities. In recent years, sharks have not 
been as plentiful in the lake. Perhaps the bounty-hunters are fishing them 
out. Or perhaps the rapids and the silt in the San Juan are inexorably 
forming a barrier to the lake. 

The Lake Nicaragua shark is usually cited as the only shark that lives 
in fresh water. But sharks have been seen, with varying degrees of 
certitude, from the tranquil Derwent River in Tasmania to the busy 
Hudson River in New York. The farthest upriver appearance of a shark 
in the Hudson occurred in 1925, when a 700-pounder of unidentified 
species was washed up on the shore near Marlboro, New York, some 50 
miles north of New York Bay. The shark apparently had been struck 
by a steamboat. In 1933, New York City police flashed a teletyped shark 
alarm to all precincts and to New York State communities along the 
Hudson as far north as Poughkeepsie. The alarm followed the sighting 
of at least one shark by several fishermen, off the West 42nd Street 
docks, exactly six blocks west of Times Square. 

In the headwaters of the Amazon, near Iquitos, Peru— 2,300 miles 
from the mouth of the great river— a shark of an unknown species has 
been caught. In landlocked Paraguay, sharks have been reported. In the 
rivers that flow through the sparsely explored or unmapped jungles 
of South and Central America, explorers have heard tales of sharks. 

A little tropical Atlantic Carcharhinid shark, the Sharp-Nosed shark 
(Scoliodon terrae-novae) , has been known to stray a couple of miles up 
the Pascagoula River in Mississippi, but it is normally found only in 
coastal waters, as is the Pacific coast Sharp-Nosed (Scoliodon longurio). 

A close relative, Scoliodon ivalbeehmi, lives in the Indian Ocean. This 
shark's peregrinations into fresh water, however, are more venturesome 
than those of the Sharp-Nosed. In Thailand, as a matter of fact, it is 
best known as a lake fish. It feeds on the young turtles of the Lake of the 
Tale Sap, and is common in the Patalung River, which flows into the 

Sharks were once pursued up the Perak River in Malaya by an 
American physiologist who, oddly enough, was studying the human 
kidney. He reported that sharks, including known man-eaters, went as 

The Sharks— Part Two 343 

far as 200 miles up the river. He believed that the shark's ability to adapt 
to fresh water was somehow related to the presence of urinary constitu- 
ents in its blood. In man, those constituents may occur as the result of 
a kidney disorder, and produce a toxic condition, uremia. Find how and 
why the river-traveling shark can endure uremia, the physiologist be- 
lieved, and vou will find a secret of man's body that man does not know. 
The shark-tracking physiologist did not prove his theory, nor did he 
discover why sharks go upriver. In fact, hardly anything is known about 
the factors which produce the disquieting appearance of sharks in fresh 
water, anywhere in the world. 

The river shark theory offered along the Ganges River and its tribu- 
taries in India is a starkly simple one: sharks go up the river to get easily 
obtained food— men, although mostly cadavers. Pilgrims bathing in the 
sacred waters of the Ganges have been attacked by sharks during their 
devotions; sharks have struck down as many as 20 river bathers in a 
single year, killing half of them. So prevalent are the Ganges River sharks 
that they have been recognized as a species, Carcharias gangeticiis. The 
great naturalist of India, Francis Day, said that this shark "seldom loses 
an opportunity of attacking the bather." Day also noted that the dead, 
cast into the rivers for burial in sanctified waters, were frequently de- 
voured by sharks. In a two-month period in 1959, sharks killed 5 persons 
and mauled 30 others near the mouth of the Devi River of India. 

The ferocious Ganges River shark resembles the familiar Sand shark 
{Carcharias taiirus) of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and the dread 
Gray Nurse {Carcharias arenarius) of Australia. Although the Ganges 
shark has been marauding in the rivers of India for centuries, little is 
known about it. Life is cheap in many of this shark's riparian haunts, 
and if a bather meets his death in the Ganges shark's jaws, that death will 
not be reported so extensively as would a death by shark in, say, Florida. 

The Ganges shark ( Carcharias gangeticus ) . 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publish Ine Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley, 1940 

344 Shark and Company 

How many rivers this shark ascends is not definitely known, but its 
range encompasses the Indian Ocean, and it has been reported in Japan. 
Any river that empties into the seas prowled by the Ganges shark could 
be a likely avenue for a lethal foray. 

Another large shark whose predilection for rivers is recognized in 
its name is the River shark (Carcharimis zambezensis) of South Africa, 
which has been caught 120 miles up the Zambezi River. This shark, 
which grows to at least 8 feet, has an ugly reputation not only in the 
river that gives it its name, but also in many other rivers along the south 
and the east coasts of Africa. The 1961 Shark Research Panel Report in- 
cludes mention of an attack 150 miles up the Limpopo (Crocodile) River 
in Mozambique. The African River shark does not live exclusively in 
fresh water. It is also found— and feared— in the seas along the coasts. 

Sharks, sawfish, and rays have been found in several Australian rivers, 
but there is no evidence of sharks taking up permanent residence there 
as the Lake Nicaragua shark apparently has done. In New Guinea 
and Papua, sharks have been caught in several rivers and at least two 
lakes: Lake Sentani, New Guinea, 250 feet above sea level and linked to 
the sea by a 40-mile river which is practically unnavigable; and Lake 
Jamoer, New Guinea, about 200 feet above sea level. The Lake Jamoer 
sharks have been described as closely related to the Lake Nicaragua 
sharks, though little is known about the New Guinea species. Nor is it 
known definitely whether or not these sharks are as vicious as those of 
Lake Nicaragua. 

But it is known that of sharks which have ventured up rivers else- 
where in the world, some have been killers . . . 

Bored by the hot, oppressive dullness of an outpost of empire named 
Ahwaz, Iran, a British soldier with nothing more exciting to do decided 
to take his ambulance down to the river and wash it. He drove the am- 
bulance into the Karun River, which flows through Ahwaz, and stopped 
near shore. He took off his shoes and socks and climbed down into the 
water, which was about a foot deep. 

As he started to wash the ambulance, which was caked with the dirt 
of a town 90 miles from salt water, his right ankle was seized with a 
force that pulled him off balance. Thrashing in rapidly reddening fresh 
water not as deep as a bathtub, the soldier began fighting for his life 
against a shark. He lashed out with his fists, but the shark's hide tore his 
hands and arms, and he was bitten repeatedly. He kicked, but the shark 
hung onto his leg. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the shark dis- 
appeared, leaving the soldier lying in the absurdly shallow water. The 
soldier's right leg was hideously gouged. His right arm was torn open. 
His left hand and forearm looked as if they had been raked by a sharp 

The Sharks— Part Tivo 345 

Many sharks of this type, identified as Carcharias menisorrah ( Mueller and Henle, 
1841 ) are caught in the Persian Gulf. It is possibly the same species that enters the 
Ahvaz and Tigris Rivers, and penetrates as far as the city of Baghdad. 

Courtesy, Einar Munksgaard from 
Danish Scientific Investigations in Iran, 1944 

That British soldier, who survived, was one of 27 men, women, and 
children attacked in the Karun River near Ahwaz from 1941 to 1949, 
a period during which authentic records on shark attacks were kept by 
Allied military authorities. About half of the attacks were fatal, and most 
began as had the attack on the ambulance driver— a lunge at the ankles 
in very shallow water, close to shore. 

The Karun River, like the storied Euphrates and Tigris, empties 
into the northern end of the Persian Gulf, which is more sheltered from 
the open sea than Long Island Sound. A truly pelagic shark would have 
to travel from the Arabian Sea, up the Gulf of Oman, into the Persian 
Gulf, then across the Persian Gulf and up the mouth of the Karun— just 
to begin its journey to Ahwaz! Yet the appearance of ferocious sharks in 
the Karun is far from extraordinary, and similarly savage sharks are 
found in both the Euphrates and the Tigris. In Baghdad, some 350 miles 
from the sea, sharks are so well known that they have entered into leg- 
ends; the sharks come to Baghdad, it is said, to feast upon the city's 
melons. In Khorramshahr, below Ahwaz on the Karun, the story goes 
that the sharks linger under the date-palms to eat the dates falling from 
the trees! 

They also attack people— and this is no legend. In a report on fishes 
of the Persian Gulf, H. Blegvad, a Danish marine biologist, said: 

Every year several people, especially children, fall victims to these sharks. 
I think the big sharks do not find the same abundance of food in the rivers as 
in the sea; this may explain that they are more voracious in the fresh water than 
in the sea, where the pearl divers do not fear the sharks. 

Man-killing sharks are also known in Australian rivers. 

On November 27th, 1921, Herbert Jack was wading out to his dinghy 
moored about 10 yards from a bank of the Bulimba Reach of the Bris- 
bane River, in Brisbane. He carried his 8-year-old son, George, on his 

346 Shark and Company 

back. Just before they reached the boat, a shark grabbed Jack's right 
hip. He beat the shark off and turned for shore, but it attacked him 
again, slashing his arm as he tried to strike it. During the battle, George 
slipped from his father's back. When George disappeared, so did the 
shark, and the boy was never seen again. 

East Hills lies on George's River in New South Wales. It is a town 
20 miles from the mouth of the river. One day, 15-year-old Wallace Mc- 
Cutcheon dived into the river to retrieve a tennis ball. As he was swim- 
ming back to shore, a shark struck at him. The shark did not follow 
through on its cursory thrust, and the boy reached shore. He and several 
other astounded persons along the river saw several other large sharks 
prowling about. 

Not quite a year afterward, 19-year-old Richard Soden was racing 
several other boys across George's River, about 2 miles upriver from East 
Hills. Soden, a strong swimmer, was in the lead when he suddenly dis- 
appeared. The other swimmers saw a large dorsal fin. Soden bobbed 
to the surface. His companions towed him to shore. His left leg was 
horribly mutilated, and he was dead before he reached the river bank. 

Soden was killed about 4:30 in the afternoon. At 8:15 that same 
night, 3 miles upriver from the fatal attack— thus some 25 miles from 
the sea— 13 -year-old Beryl Morrin and several other children were play- 
ing in 4 feet of water no more than 10 yards from the river bank. Beryl 
screamed and thrust her arms up out of the water. Both of her hands were 
gone. Swift application of tourniquets saved her life, but the lightning- 
like attack had so mutilated her arms that both had to be amputated, 
one below and the other above the elbow. 

The vicious, river-raiding sharks of Australia, India, and the Middle 
East seem to be confined to tropical and subtropical zones. But, until 
more is learned about what lures sharks into fresh water, every tropical 
and temperate river mouth would seem to be a potential gateway for a 
Selachian visitor. In the summer of 1960, for example, so many sharks 
were reported in the Delaware River (U.S.A.) that state police pa- 
trolled river beaches, warning startled swimmers and water-skiers to get 
out of the water because of sharks. At least one shark, a 7-foot, 225- 
pounder of undetermined species, was caught off New Castle, Delaware 
—some 30 miles from the mouth of the river. 

A Great White shark was reported near the mouth of the St. Croix 
River, the boundary between Maine and the Canadian province of New 
Brunswick, in 1953. The shark had not penetrated the St. Croix very 
far, but the report of a shark in a far northern river raises an interesting 
possibility. For, now that ocean ships can sail 2,347 miles into the interior 
of the United States and Canada— from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and 
up the St. Lawrence Seaway as far as Duluth, Minnesota— it is not im- 

The Sharks— Part Two 347 

Underviews of Hammerhead sharks show the distinctive profiles of these unusual 
species. Left is the Common Hammerhead (Sphyrrui zygaena), right is the Great 
Hammerhead (Sphyrna tudes). Courtesy, Scottie Allen 

possible that some day a Great Lakes species will be added to the unend- 
ing list of sharks. 

Sharks are known to invade^ if not permanently inhabit, numerous 
other fresh waters. They have been reported in Japan and the Philippine 
Islands, and, as exploration continues, may be expected to be found in 
more of the rivers of Africa, South and Central America, the East Indies, 
and northern Australia. A shark, similar to the Ganges shark, if not 
identical, gees at least 40 miles up the Rewa River on the island of 
Suva in the Fiji group. It will attack waders in shallow water and is 
much feared. 

Most, but not all, of the fresh-water-invading or -inhabiting sharks 
are below 30° of latitude on either side of the Equator, with their preva- 
lence increasing in the zones where there appears to be a narrow range 
in the seasonal water temperatures. 

Family S'p/jj'r/z/W^e— Hammerhead Sharks 
The Hammerhead, with its flat head tipped on either lobe by seem- 
ingly malevolent eyes, looks like an omen of evil and, to a bather close 
enough to see the Hammerhead charging toward him, this shark may 
be a last, lethal apparition. Three Hammerheads were landed in one 
net at Riverhead, Long Island, one day in 1805. In the largest of them 

348 Shark and Company 

the body of a man and a tattered striped cotton shirt were found. Ever 
since that day, the Hammerhead has been named a potential killer. 

Unlike many of the known dangerous species, however, the Ham- 
merhead is disturbingly plentiful. There have been 30, even 40 embryos 
found in Hammerheads. Their breeding grounds are believed to exist in 
at least two areas popular with bathers— Hawaii and Long Island. In 
Australia, the Hawaiian Islands, Florida, California— wherever the Ham- 
merhead's strange profile has loomed— it has been classified as extremely 
dangerous. Yet, considering its abundance and murderous notoriety, its 
known depredations upon bathers are surprisingly few. A Hammerhead 
killed a man in the Virgin Islands in 1963. Hammerhead attacks have been 
recorded also from Florida, Australia, and British Guiana. 

Russell J. Coles, describing cannibal sharks he caught off Cape Look- 
out, North Carolina, told of a 13-foot, 10-inch female Hammerhead 
which had "just eaten four of her own species from my net, two of 
which had been swallowed whole, except the heads . . ." Despite their 
forbidding stingers. Sting rays are frequently eaten by their cousins, 
the sharks. Hammerhead sharks seem to find them delectable, and ap- 
parently have developed an immunity to the poison secreted in the ray's 
sting. One captured Hammerhead was particularly gluttonous. An al- 
most perfect skeleton of a Sting ray was found in its stomach, and 
imbedded in its jaws were more than 50 stings. 

The cosmopolitan range of the Hammerhead was recognized as far 
back as Oppian's time, for the ancient poet wrote: 

The monstrous Balance-Fish,^ of hideous Shape 
Rounds jetting Lands, and doubles every Cape. 

The prolific, ubiquitous Hammerhead appears in several distinct spe- 
cies, and each species has its own peculiarities. 


(Sphyrna diplana Springer, 1941 ) 
The head, though generally mallet-shaped, is scalloped. The shark 
grows to at least 8 feet and is so common off^ the southeastern Florida 
coast that as many as 19 have been taken in a single day in the same 
area. It ranges the tropical and warm-temperate Atlantic, the Gulf of 
Mexico, and probably the Mediterranean. 

Bonnet Shark 

{Sphyrna tibiiro Linnaeus, 1758) 

(Also Known as Shovelhead, Shovel-Nosed Shark, Bonnet Nose) 

Its head isn't hammer- or mallet-shaped, but shovel-shaped. Between 

the months of June and October it is one of the most abundant species 

^ It was called balance-fish because of the fancied resemblance of its head to a 
balance scale. 

A Bonnet shark ( Sphyrna tiburo ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

of shark found along the coast of South Carolina; 40 were once taken in 
one dav with seines on Galveston Island, Texas. A relativelv small shark, 
rarely growing more than 5 feet in length, the Bonnet usually loiters 
around shore and sometimes appears near wharves. It ranges from south- 
ern Brazil to the southern shores of North Carolina, and occasionally 
strays to New England. On the Pacific coast, the Bonnet cruises from 
southern California to Ecuador. It is also found in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Great Hammerhead 
(Sphyrna tudes Va.\enciennes, 1822) 
This is the largest Hammerhead in the Atlantic and possibly the 
largest Hammerhead in the world. It is known to grow to 15 feet. It 
is found throughout the world, from the warm waters of the Atlantic 
to the Gulf of Mexico and the west coast of Central America; from 
Hawaii to Australia and Indo-China; along the shores of India and in the 
Gulf of Arabia. In India, it is sometimes called the Horned shark because 
the projecting lobes are looked upon as horns by natives who are more 
familiar with cattle, presumably, than with carpenter's tools. 

Common Hammerhead 

(Sphyrna zygaeim Linnaeus, 1758) 
A fast, lively shark, the Common Hammerhead has been seen chasing 
Sting rays, which appear to be one of its favorite meals. One of these 
Hammerheads once put up such a fight when hooked that it died of 
exhaustion. It eats other sharks, and is known to have attacked men and 
boats. In the summer, great schools of these Hammerheads migrate 
northward along the Atlantic seaboard. Many linger around Charleston, 
South Carolina. Others visit Maryland, New Jersey, and New York 
waters, sometimes entering New York harbor. Most of the sharks in 
these annual warm-\\eather migrations are small and were probably 
born shortly before the summer trek began. Dozens of little Hammer- 

350 Shark and Company 

heads— each about 30 inches long— are found in nets along the outer 
shore of Long Island in August. Hammerheads are also in New York 
waters from July to October. They disappear suddenly when the water 
temperature falls below 67 °F. Where they go after that is not known. 
Common Hammerheads, which occasionally grow to 13 feet in length, 
also roam the eastern Atlantic, from Portugal and occasionally the British 
Isles to South Africa. They are also found in the Gulf of Mexico, along 
both sides of the Pacific, and in the Indian Ocean. 

Why do Hammerheads have hammerheads? One unproved theory 
is that they use their variously styled flat heads as steering planes, similar 
to the diving planes of the hulls of submarines. By moving their heads 
agilely they can quickly turn, dive, and ascend. The Hammerhead's 
head is also, in effect, a big flat nose, since grooves for scent detection 
run along its entire leading edge. 

Family Squalidae—SpiNY Dogfishes 
The many species in this family have two features in common. Pro- 
jecting before each dorsal fin is a quill-like spine. Further, none of these 
sharks has an anal fin. The most common species— indeed, one of the 
most abundant of all sharks— is the Spiny dogfish {Squalus acanthias 
Linnaeus, 1758), also known as the Piked dogfish. Skittle-dog, Thorndog, 
Codshark, and Spur dog. 

Like a seething carpet flung by some nemesis of fishermen, gigantic 
schools of Spiny dogfish descend upon fishing grounds, where they 
devour or mutilate netted fish, eat both bait and captives on hand-lines, 
tear nets to shreds, and raid lobster pots. In some fishing grounds, Spiny 
dogfish bring fishing to a stop until, their ravenous hunger satisfied 
or all the fish that survive have fled, they move on in search of more 

Damage to gear and loss of fish cost our fishermen millions of dol- 
lars a year, since fishermen in the United States and Canada cannot sell 
the Spiny dogfish except for fertilizer and such oil as may be had from 

A Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

The Sharks— Part Tivo 351 

their livers. Since 1956, Canada has been trying to eradicate Spiny dogfish 
from British Columbia waters. About $140,000 a year is spent on bounty 
payments of 12 cents a pound for dogfish livers, which are delivered 
to oil plants where the liver oil is rendered in an attempt to get back some 
of the money allotted to the bounty program. These marauders are 
cursed by Pacific coast fishermen from Southern California to Alaska. 

In 1938, a campaign was launched to reduce the Spiny dogfish pop- 
ulation in Placentia Bay, near St. John's, Newfoundland. About 10,391,- 
000 pounds of Spiny dogfish— some two to three million of them— were 
caught, but a government report on the dogfish drive said that the 
catching of these millions of dogfish did not result in "any apparent 
diminution of the supply." 

When packs of these voracious sharks invade a fishing ground, virtu- 
ally no other kind of fish can be caught. A long-line with 700 hooks 
strung along it was once set off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. When the 
long line was hauled up, 690 hooks had Spiny dogfish on them. This 
abundant shark is probably the most prolific shark in the sea. Twenty- 
seven million Spiny dogfish were taken in one season off the coast of 
Massachusetts alone; 20,000 were once caught in a single haul off the 
Cornwall coast of England; Long Island fishermen used to measure 
their catch of Spiny dogfish in wagonloads. When their abundance is at 
its peak, an average trawler can take in 6,000 to 8,000 of them in a day. 
Years ago, dogfish were dried, stacked, and burned as fuel by Cape 
Codders, who found the dogfish far more plentiful than the local trees. 

After gorging on the fisherman's hard-won catch and then tearing 
his valuable nets, the Spiny dogfish has a coup de grace for the fisher- 
man who carelessly reaches into the tattered net to grab the vandal. 
The Spiny dogfish's weapons are the dorsal spines or quills (remember 
the ichthyodorulites? ) which the little shark brings into play by curling 
its body into a bow, exposing the length of the spines, and then lunging 
forward. The spine— which is slightly poisonous— can inflict a painful 
injury. Fishermen have been laid up for several days after being stabbed 
by a Spiny dogfish. The shark is amazingly accurate with its unusual 
weapon, which is used only in defense. If you put a finger lightly 
on its head, it will immediately bend into a bow and strike so skillfully 
that the spine of its back dorsal will prick your finger, but not even 
scratch its own skin. (Dr. H. Muir Evans, a British physician who has 
made a study of venomous apparatus of fishes, sav^s ichthyodorulites 
he has examined are structurally similar to the poisonous spines still 
borne by several modern species of sharks and rays.) 

The alternating dark and light rings on the second dorsal spine have 
been used to determine the age of Spiny dogfish. The rings result from 
periods of fast growth during the summer months (light rings) and peri- 

352 Shark and Company 

ods of retarded growth during winter months (dark rings). It will 
come as no comfort to the fisherman to know that the counting of these 
rings has indicated that some Spiny dogfish may Uve to an age of about 
30 years. (The Spiny dogfish is one of the very few sharks whose age 
can be even guessed at. A shark's age and life-span are two more of its 
many mysteries. ) 

David H. Graham, of New Zealand, tells of finding fully formed 
dogfish in a mother he caught. Graham placed them in a laboratory 
tank, where they lived for several months and grew to lengths of about 
13 inches. But, he said, "They lost the skin and flesh from the tip of 
their noses through bumping into the ends of the aquarium tank, which 
no doubt contributed to their untimely end." 

In the United States and Canada, the predaceous Uttle sharks are hated 
by fishermen, and with reason, but they find a good market as food in 
many areas of Europe. 

Robbed of his catch, his net ruined, and finally his hand bleeding 
and stinging, many a fisherman has wreaked a cruel vengeance upon 
his tormentor. The avenger breaks the dogfish's flat snout with a quick 
upward blow, then tosses the maimed shark back into the sea. Unable to 
dive because of its injury, the dogfish lurches along near the surface, 
doomed to starve or fall prey to a larger fish. 

Spiny dogfish, which grow to 2 or 3 feet in length, apparently are 
born in wintering grounds far off shore. This species is ovoviviparous, 
and gestation lasts 18 to 22 months. While the four to six embryos in 
the average litter are developing, a new set of eggs is growing in the 
ovary to replace them. 

When the temperature of the water along the United States Atlantic 
coast reaches about 43 °F. in the spring, the Spiny dogfish begin to ap- 
pear. By the time the temperature rises to about 59°F., they either move 
out to deeper, cooler water, or head northward, sometimes at a speed of 
8 miles a day. Their meanderings seem to be bound by this relationship 
to temperature, for, as northern waters drop below 43 °F., they head 
southward again, until finally, they head for the deep, offshore water 
where they winter. They are driven by temperature demands quite 
similar to those of the mackerel, M^hich dogfish frequently massacre in 
fishermen's nets. 

The Spiny dogfish is a scourge on our side of the Atlantic, heading 
from Caribbean to subarctic waters in search of prey. As mentioned, it 
lives off Europe also. It similarly ranges the Pacific, from San Diego to the 
Aleutian Islands on the west coast, outward to the Hawaiian Islands, 
beyond to Japan and northern China, southward to New Zealand, Aus- 

The family Squalidae is represented in Australian and New Zealand 

The Sharks— Part Two 353 

waters bv several species, including the peculiar Prickly dogfish (Oxy- 
notus bnmiejisis Ogilby, 1893). Relatively rare, the Prickly dogfish is 
instantly identified by its odd shape— its first dorsal sweeps upward like a 
sail— and its extremely rough skin. It grows to about 2 feet. A common 
Australian dogfish, called the Piked dogfish or Skittle-dog {Squalus 
megalops Alacleay, 1881), is often filleted and sold as a food fish. It usu- 
ally grows to about 2 feet. 

In the dark unknown of the deepest seas, many types of tiny sharks 
live like fabled dwarfs. We see hardly more than fleeting glances of 
many of them. Their lives in the nether world of the deep are cloaked 
in eternal shadow. Some of them bear that ghostly glow that marks 
many creatures of the abyss— luminescence. Others are as dark as the 
gloom that shrouds them. But all that have been seen have the classic, 
graceful lines of the typical shark. 

Some of them are members of the family Squalidae; others are 
classified with the Dalatiidae, the Spineless dogfishes. Squalidae found 
in the depths include: 

Squalus jernandinus Molina, 1782— This shark is so rare— and so 
small— that one of the few known specimens in the western Atlantic 
was fortuitously found in the stomach of an albatross caught off Ar- 
gentina. The shark was not quite H^-o inches long. It is known to inhabit 
the polar regions and the cool-temperature latitudes of the southern 

Etmopterus hillianus Poey, 1861— About iVo inches long at birth, it 
is known to grow to about 12^4 inches. It is found in the West Indies, 
and from southern Florida to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It is some- 
times called the Black-Bellied dogfish. One female was caught bearing 
four young 3 Yo inches long. 

E. hillianus may be luminous, as are some other Etmopterus sharks, 
including one known as the Lantern shark in South Africa because of 
its luminous belly, and another, known only in the northern parts of 
the Gulf of A4exico. The latter, E. vire?7s, is a pretty little shark with a 
brown body striped with pale bluish gray and marked on the belly with 
bright green iridescence. E. virens is believed to grow to no more than 
about 1 1 ^ inches. In fact, a 9-inch female of this tiny species was found 

A tiny shark ( Etmopterus hillianus ) measuring only 1 foot in length when full-grown 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

354 Shark and Company 

bearing a 1 14 -inch embryo that was nearly ready for birth! It is com- 
monly known as the Green dogfish. 

Another member of this family, the Portuguese shark (Centro- 
scynmus coelolepis Bocage and Brito Capello, 1864), may be a record- 
holder among sharks of the deep. Marion Grey, of the Chicago Natural 
History Museum, an authority on deep-sea fishes, says the Portuguese 
shark "is apparently the deepest-living shark known." The deepest 
known record for the Portuguese shark is 2,718 meters (8,917 feet).' 
The Portuguese shark, which grows to about 3 feet, is found on both 


The Portuguese shark (Centroscymnus coelolepsis). 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

sides of the North Atlantic. It was once fished off Portugal. Another 
deep-water species, the Black dogfish^ {Centroscyll'mm fabricii Rein- 
hardt, 1825), is often found in the same waters frequented by the 
Portuguese shark. It grows to about 2 V2 feet. 

Family Dalatiidae—Spi'NELEss Dogfishes 
One of the smallest sharks ever recorded— a 6-incher— and one of 
the largest sharks— a 1 tonner— are found in this family, which includes 
about eight species. The Dalatiidae differ principally from the Spiny dog- 
fishes on the basis of dorsal spines. Dalatiidae sharks do not have a spine 
in front of the second dorsal, nor, in most cases, in front of the first dorsal 

Greenland Shark 

(Sovmiosus microcephaliis Bloch and Schneider, 1801) 

(Also Known as Sleeper Shark, Gurry Shark) 

Huge as it is— up to 24 feet long, more than 1 ton in weight— the 

Greenland shark is so ridiculously easy to catch that Eskimos are some- 

" However, sharks (not identified) have been seen at much greater depths. They 
have been observed near the bottom on the deepest French and U.S. dives— Atlantic 
and Pacific. 

^ Neither the Black dogfish nor any of these tiny sharks is the so-called "Black 
shark" found in some home aquaria. The tropical fish fancier's "Black shark" sold as a 
rare fish and proudly displayed as a shark is a fresh-water teleost (Morulhis chrysophe- 
kadion Bleeker, 1865) found in Java, Borneo, Sumatra, Cambodia, Indo-China, Laos, 
and Thailand. In Thailand, it is called the pla ka, or crow fish, in allusion to its black 
color. The only people who call it the "Black shark" are tropical fish buyers— or sellers. 

The Sharks— Part Tivo 355 

times ashamed to admit that they fish for it. Greenland sharks have 
been hauled up from depths as great as 3,960 feet, and a solitary Eskimo 
in a tinv kayak will often do the pulling on a light hand-line. 

Peter Freuchen, the famed arctic explorer, provided the authors with 
a first-hand description of the hunting of the Greenland shark. In Thule, 
he said, the bait the natives used was wood! He explained: 

They had harpooned some sharks that came to the surface while people were 
cutting up walruses. In one of the sharks thev found a piece of wood. From that 
they got the idea that sharks were crazy about wood, and on this they based 

The Greenland shark ( Somniosus microcephalus ) . 

Courtesy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 

their hunting methods. They tied some stones to a piece of wood so that it 
would sink. Then they lowered it down into the water, with long hunting lines, 
through a hole in the ice, and dragged it very, verv slowlv up again. The sharks 
followed the "bait" up and were harpooned at the surface. 

In the Upernivik district, there were two other ways of catching sharks 
through the ice. One way was with "ice hooks"— big hooks fastened with a 
chain about three feet under the ice. The bait was blubber. 

The other way, the one that was used the most, was to have hooks at the 
bottom of the sea. The hooks were very simple. People made them out of the 
usual hooks bought in the store. They were made in such a way as to prevent 
the sharks from spitting them out. The hooks were joined together by melting 
lead over the shaft. Attached to the hooks were about three feet of chain, at 
the end of which was an iron crosspiece. About ten feet of rope was attached 
to the hooks. Its thickness was not important; it was there because a shark would 
tear the regular line to pieces with its file-like skin . . . 

Two— and occasionally three— sharks are sometimes caught on the 
same hook, according to Freuchen, because the first shark swallows the 
hook and, while hanging there helplessly, is eaten by another. "It happens 
time and time again that you get two sharks on the same hook because 
the second has just eaten so much of the first one he gets the hooks in 
him as well," Freuchen said. 

"If you want to eat him," he added, "you must boil the meat three 
times— lest the poison in it get vou. If a dog drinks the first water the 
shark meat was boiled in, the dog will die of poison." 

Other Greenland fishermen say that the meat of the shark will make 
a dog drunk and sleepy. Why, no one knows. Also unknown is how 

356 Shark and Company 

the legendarily lethargic Greenland shark is able to capture fish by lying 
on the bottom waiting for them to swim by. Good-sized cod and salmon 
have been found in Greenland sharks, as have seals— and a reindeer (with- 
out horns). 

Dr. Bjern Bjerland, of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, may 
have an answer to part of this one. Tiny luminous crustaceans fix them- 
selves in the Greenland shark's eye, and may act as lures for fish. This 
still leaves the reindeer unexplained. 

This sluggish shark, able to withstand the rigor of freezing water, 
is believed to be the only large shark found in arctic waters. A close 
relative {So^rmiosiis pacificiis Bigelow and Schroeder, 1944) is found 
in the north Pacific and the Bering Strait, and a third (S. ro stratus Risso, 
1826) is found in the Mediterranean. An 8-foot shark similar to the 
Greenland shark was found cast up on Macquarie Island, a few hundred 
miles from the Antarctic Circle. The body of this solitary shark, men- 
tioned earlier, shows that southern polar seas are within the possible 
range of a species resembling the Greenland shark. The Macquarie 
Island shark {Sonmiosus antarcticus Whitley, 1939) remains today the 
only recorded antarctic species. 

The Greenland shark itself can also survive in water at least as warm 
as 53°F. In the eighteenth century, when Atlantic Right whales were 
being killed off the Massachusetts coast, Greenland sharks flocked to 
the scene of the whale slaughters. When whaling stopped, so, ap- 
parently, did the unusual southern exposure of the Greenland shark. 

Numerous large eggs— as many as one and a half barrels of them 
in a single female— have been discovered repeatedly in Greenland sharks. 
Though no laid eggs were ever dredged up, the assumption was that 
the shark laid eggs, possibly without tgg cases, in the chill mud of 
arctic sea bottoms. The mystery was cleared up in 1954 when a fisher- 
man caught, near the Faroe Islands, a 16-foot Greenland shark which 
carried ten young. The fisherman's find finally established, after decades 
of speculation, that the Greenland shark brings forth its young alive. 

The Greenland shark has been fished for by Norwegians for cen- 
turies, not only in Greenland where as many as 30,000 are caught a 
year, and along the rim of the arctic, but also in Norway itself, for it 
enters the fjords, often destroying the gear of commercial fishermen 
who are after tusk and halibut. These sharks are sought primarily for 
their liver oil. 

In its wanderings south of the Arctic Ocean, it dips into the White 
Sea of Russia, skirts the British Isles along the North Sea coast, and 
sometimes enters the English Channel (one was caught at the mouth 
of the River Seine). In the western Atlantic, it is found from Greenland 
to the Gulf of Maine. Its Pacific relative (known as the Sleeper shark) 

The Sharks— Part Two 357 

A luminous shark, Acanthidium molleri. 

Courtesy, Sydney and Melbourne Publishing Co. from 
The Fishes of Australia by G. P. Whitley. 1940 

ranges from Alaska to, occasionally, southern California, and, on the 
Asiatic side of the Pacific, lumbers along from the Bering Sea to northern 

The Luminous Shark 
(Isistius brasiliensis Quoy and Gaimard, 1824) 
A small shark noted for its brilliant luminescence, the Luminous 
shark grows to about 18 inches and is found, usually far at sea, in the 
warm waters of the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian Oceans. Despite 
their small size, they are as fierce as any pelagic shark. In an account of 
a nineteenth-century whaling voyage, F. D. Bennett wrote: 

They fought fiercely with their jaws and had torn the net in several 
places . . . When the larger specimen, taken at night, was removed into a 
dark apartment, it afforded a very extraordinary spectacle. The entire inferior 
surface of the body and head emitted a vivid and greenish phosphorescent 
gleam, imparting to the creature, by its own light, a truly ghastly and terrific 
appearance. The luminous effect was constant . . . When the shark expired 
(which was not until it had been out of the water more than three hours), the 
luminous appearance faded entirely from the abdomen, and more gradually 
from other parts, lingering the longest around the jaws and on the fins. 

Even smaller than the Luminous shark is a rare species (Euprotojnicrus 
laticaiidus Smith and Radcliffe, 1912) which was discovered only in 
this century when a male and a female were hauled from a depth of 
1,020 feet in Batangas Bay, Luzon, Philippine Islands. The male, slightly 
larger than the female, measured 6 inches and appeared to be fully 
developed. Their tiny, jet-black bodies and white fins were typical shark 
forms in miniature. Acanthidium molleri is still another luminous form, 
caught by Dr. Whitley at 130 fathom depths near Sydney, Australia. Its 
sides are luminous. 

Family Echinorhinidae— Bramble Shark 
Only one species {Echinorhinus brucus Bonnaterre, 1788) is known 
in this family. The hide of the Bramble shark (also known as the Spiny 
shark, Spinous shark, and Alligator shark) seems carpeted with brambles. 

Shark and Cojjipany 

Bramble shark { Echinorhinus brucus). 

From the author's collection 

Actually, its prickly hide is covered with unusual denticles, each of 
which is topped with one or two small spines. 

Its known appearances in American waters are extremely rare. A 
62-inch, 100-pound shark, believed to be a Bramble shark, was caught 
off Santa Barbara, California, in 1939, and a 6-foot, 5-inch Bramble was 
caught in a gill-net off Los Angeles County in 1944. Two more were 
taken off San Diego in 1947. Only two western Atlantic records of it 
exist: in December, 1878, a 7-footer was washed ashore at Provincetown, 
Massachusetts, and in 1898, a Bramble shark nearly 10 feet long was 
caught near Buenos Aires. 

The Bramble shark is far more common in the eastern Atlantic, from 
tropical West Africa to Ireland and the North Sea, and in the Medi- 
terranean. It has also been reported off South Africa, around the Ha- 
waiian Islands, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and in Arabian waters. 

• Family Heterodontidae— Horn Sharks 

A Horn shark ( Heterodontus japonicus ) . 

Courtesy, American Museum of Natural History 

The Sharks-Part Two 359 

This last family in the long shark line is linked with an ancient form 
that swam in Jurassic seas. There is something oddly prehistoric about 
the appearance of these bullheaded sharks that bear, before each dorsal 
fin, a stout spine that resembles a horn; and indeed they are a most 
archaic group anatomically. 

The Port Jackson shark {Heterodontiis portjacksoni Meyer, 1793) 
of Australian waters belongs to this family, as does the Pacific Horned 
shark {Heterodontiis francisci Girard, 1854), found from Alorro Bay 
to Cape San Lucas, Lower California, and into the Gulf of California. 
Some eight other species are found in the eastern Pacific, and off East 
Africa and the East Indies. Horn sharks are not known in the Atlantic 
or the Mediterranean. The Port Jackson shark is also called the Bullhead 
and the Oyster Crusher (it lives on mollusks and crustaceans) in Australia. 
In California, it is sometimes called the Pig shark because of its porcine 
head. Horn sharks grow to about 4 feet. 

Horn sharks lay egg cases that are equipped with spiral flanges, 
giving them a screw-like appearance. The egg cases, measuring about 
4 by 2 inches, are sometimes eaten by female Horn sharks. And, to com- 
plete the cannibalism, Horn sharks are sometimes eaten by Tiger sharks 
(Galeocerdo cuvieri). 


Two bony fish— the remora and the pilot fish— are closely associated 
with many species of Selachians. Though these fish are not related to 
any Selachians, and are true Teleosts, they are included here because 
they are often found with Selachians. 

The big shark is often the host of a colony of followers, some of 
them freeloaders at the shark's meals. These vagabonds— remoras and 
pilot fish— are apparently never molested by the shark, and they do not 
seem to do anything for the shark, to earn their immunity. 

Instead, they eat the crumbs that drop when the shark, a coarse 
feeder, dines. The coexistence of the shark and its smaller companions is 
called comnie7isalism—\\ier2i\\y, eating from the same table. 

The Remora (Family Eche?7eidae), or Sucker Fish, is a fish of ancient 
legend. The Greeks called it the "ship-holder," and its present-day name 
comes from a Latin word meaning "a delay." The historian Pliny said 
that the Emperor Caligula was fatally delayed on his voyage to Antium 
by remoras, which held his ship despite 400 oarsmen's efforts to free it. 
Alark Antony's defeat at Actium was blamed on remoras that kept his 
ship fast when Antony ordered it into battle. We also have it on the 
word of Ben Jonson that a remora can "stay a ship that's under sail." 

360 Shark and Company 

A Remora attached to a Sand shark. 

Courtesy, New York Zoological Society 

The remora's reputation as a ship-holder is based on its abiHty to 
stick, particularly to sharks. It attaches itself by a kind of suction cup. 
Its first dorsal fin has modified to form an oval plate on the top of its 
head. The surface of the plate is ridged, like the sole of a boot. When 
the remora decides to attach itself to a shark, it merely swims upward 
so that the disk comes in contact with the shark's belly or side. Then, 
by muscular action, it raises the ridges and rim of the disk, creating a 
partial vacuum. 

When the shark feeds, the remora detaches itself by relaxing its disk 
muscles, and swims off for the crumbs. Then, its meal finished, it re- 
attaches itself to the shark and awaits its next meal. It can latch on while 
the shark is moving by the use of tiny barbs on the disk. The barbs 
act as hooks while the remora gets in position to use its suction mecha- 
nism. Four or five remoras may attach themselves to a single big shark. 
Remoras are not true parasites; they do not suck blood or injure the 
shark, though they are erroneously referred to as sucker fish. Some 
sharks, however, are infested with hordes of real parasites, ranging in 
size from the microscopic to the hideous Isopod crustaceans that in- 
habit the shark's gills, mouth and skin, and are so big that they have 
parasites. One type of shark parasite is so large, in fact, that Australian 
aborigines call it "the shark's wife." Some remoras may aid their hosts 
by feeding on these parasites. 

There are several species of remoras. One {Echeneis naiicrates). 

The Sharks— Part Two 361 

which grows to about 3 feet, is usually found on sharks in warm seas. 
Another (Remora reiJiora) reaches a length of IV2 feet. A third (Remora 
brachyptera), which grows to about 1 foot in length, has been found 
attached to swordfish. It also reportedly frequents the mouths and the 
gill cavities of larger sharks. Remoras have also been found attached 
to Manta rays, sunfish, sea turtles, whales, and even ships. Remoras do 
not freeload all the time. Hauled by a shark into a school of small fish, 
a remora sometimes will detach itself and go off hunting on its own. 
But it hurries back. 

Christopher Columbus reported seeing natives in the New World 
using a strange fish that was tethered on a line and sent out to attach 
itself to a sea turtle, which was then hauled in on the tether. The 
natives were using a remora to fish with. In some parts of Australia and 

Remoras are used for hunting by native fishermen from Australia to Central America. 
Natives in Zanzibar attach a leash to a coupling on the tail ( as shown in the illus- 
tration). The Remora then seeks out a large host-fish and, when it firmly attaches 
itself, the fisherman pulls in the leash— with the Remora and the big fish it is stuck to. 

After Holmwood 

China, in Zanzibar and Mozambique, the technique is still used by 
native fishermen. In Madagascar, native sorcerers place dried pieces of 
the remora's disk about the neck of an unfaithful wife so that she will 
return to her poor husband— and stick to him. 

The Pilot fish {Naiicrates duct or), the zebra-striped little companion 
of the shark, has no family relationship to the remora or the shark, and 
gets its name from its habit of darting ahead of a shark as it approaches 
prey. This habit led to stories about how the tiny pilot leads the great 
shark around, as a seeing-eye dog leads a blind man. 

The shark needs no pilot to guide it, but the Pilot fish certainly 
uses, if not needs, the shark. Like the remora, the Pilot fish feeds on the 
scraps from the shark's table. But it is not equipped to attach itself to 
the shark. Instead, several Pilot fish swim in front of the shark, often 
within inches of its jaws, appearing to ride a minute pressure wave 
set up by the big fish, or else maintain an almost constant position near 
the shark's pectoral fins. 

When a shark is caught, the Pilot fish skitter off, if they have time 
to escape, and immediately seek another shark. But, the association of 
Pilot fish and shark is a curiously intimate one. A sober scientist noted 
that, though Pilot fish occasionally may dart away from their shark to get 


Shark and Company 

morsels of food, they "hurry back again like children afraid of losing 
their nurse." When a shark has been hooked and is being hauled out 
of the water, its Pilot fish excitedly swim around its ascending body 
almost as if they are fretting about the loss of their big, bountiful, pro- 
tective companion. 

We have herein collected numerous reports of species of sharks, 
skates and rays from all over the world. To catalogue all such reports 
is far beyond the scope of this book. No one knows how many 
species exist, and no one has any real certainty as to the number of 
species that may inhabit or visit the coastal and offshore waters of any 

The accompanying tables give a capsule description of the most 
common sharks, skates, rays, and "links" found in U.S. waters. The 
tables were prepared by J. R. Thompson and Stewart Springer of the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In their own introduction to these 
tables,^ they aptly explain the difficulty of keeping track of the innu- 
merable species of sharks that inhabit the oceans of the world. They 

Obstacles to the study of cartilaginous fishes are many. Most of these fishes 
are pelagic, and many of them inhabit the open waters of the high seas where 
large ocean-going vessels are needed for their study. Many species are confined 
to relatively great depths where collection is difficult and expensive. Even those 
species that inhabit shallower, coastal waters require special collecting and 
handling techniques. They are difficult to keep in captivity, and their collection 
and study as living animals is quite expensive . . . 

9 In Sharks, Skates, Rays, and Chimaeras, Fish and Wildlife Circular 119, U.S. 
Government Printing Office, Washington, 1961. 

This Great Hammerhead {Sphyrim tudes) with her 22 pups was captured in the Gulf 
of Campeche by the trawler Silver Bay while under charter to the Bureau of Com- 
mercial Fisheries, U.S. Department of the Interior. 

Photo by Joaquim Rivers, U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries 

The Sharks— Part Two 


Maximum Sizes of Common Species of Sharks 





{Measured — 

{Recorded — 


Size from 

Common Name 

Scientific Name 

U.S. Coasts) 



Six-Gill shark 

Hexanchus sp. 

15 ft., 5 in. 


26 ft., 5 in. 

Sand shark 

Carcharias taurus 

10 ft., 5 in. 

12 ft., 3 in. 

15 ft., 11 in. 


Lamna nasus 

10 ft. 

12 ft. 

12 ft. 

Salmon shark 

Lamna ditropis 

8 ft., 6 in. 

8 ft., 6 in. 

12 ft. 


Isurus oxyrinchus 
Carcharodon carcharias 

10 ft., 6 in. 
18 ft., 2 in. 

12 ft. 
21 ft. 

12 to 13 ft. 

White shark 

36 ft., 6 in. 

Basking shark 

Cetorhinus maximus 

32 ft., 2 in. 

45 ft. 

40 to 50 ft. 

Thresher shark. . . . 

Alopias vulpinus 

18 ft. 

18 ft. 

20 ft. 

Nurse shark 

Ginglymostoma cirratum 

9 ft., 3 in. 


14 ft. 

Whale shark 

Rhincodon typus 

38 ft. 

45 ft. 

45 to 50 ft. 

Chain dogfish 

Scyliorhinus retifer 

1 ft., 5 in. 


2 ft., 6 in. 

Leopard shark .... 

Triakis semifasciata 

5 ft. 


5 ft. 

Smooth dogfish. . . . 

Mustelus canis 

4 ft., 9 in. 


5 ft. 

Tiger shark 

Galeocerdo cuvieri 

13 ft., 10 in. 

18 ft. 

30 ft. 

Soupfin shark 

Galeorhinus zyopterus 

6 ft., 5 in. 

6 ft., 5 in. 

6 ft., 5 in. 

Blue shark 

Prionace glauca 

11 ft. 

12 ft., 7 in. 

25 ft. 

Bull shark 

Carcharhinus leucas 

9 ft., 10 in. 


10 ft. 

Whitetip shark. . . . 

Pterolamiops longimanus 

11 ft., 6 in. 


12 ft. 

Sandbar shark .... 

Eulamia milherti 

7 ft., 8 in. 


8 ft. 

Dusky shark 

Eulamia obscurus 

11 ft., 11 in. 


15 ft. 


Sphyrna tiburo 

3 ft., 7 in. 


6 ft. 

Great hammerhead 

Sphyrna mokarran 

18 ft., 4 in. 


15 ft. 

Spiny dogfish ..... 

Squalus acanthias 

5 ft., 3 in. 


5 ft. 

Green dogfish 

Etmopterus virens 

Oft., 11 in. 



Midwater dogfish. . 

Sqtialiolus sp 

ft., 7 in. 



Greenland shark . . 

Somniosus microcephalus 

16 ft., 6 in. 

21 ft. 

24 ft. 


Pristiophorus schroederi 
Squatina dumeril 

2 ft., 10 in. 



Angel shark 

4 ft., 5 in. 




Shark and Company 

Maximum Length and Widths of Common Species of Sawfishes, Guitarfishes, 
Skates, Rays, and Chimaeras 





Common Name 

Scientific Name 

Smalltooth sawfish 

Pristis pectinatus 

18 ft. 


Largetooth sawfish 

Pristis perotteti 

22 ft. 


Atlantic guitarfish 

Rhinobatos lentiginosus 

3 ft. 


Shovelnose guitarfish 

Rhinobatos productus 

4 ft. 


Lesser electric ray 

Narcine brasiliensis 
Torpedo nobiliana 

1 ft., 6 in. 
5 ft., 11 in. 

Atlantic torpedo 


Big skate 

Raja binoculata 

6 to 8 ft. 

6 ft. 

Barndoor skate 

Raja laevis 


5 ft. 

Little skate 

Raja erinacea 

1 ft., 9 in. 

1 ft. 

Roughtail stingray 

Dasyatis centroura 


7 ft. 

Diamond stingray 

Dasyatis dipterurus 

6 ft. 


Atlantic stingray 

Dasyatis sabina 

2 ft., 9 in. 

1 ft., 4 in. 

Gulf dwarf skate 

Breviraja sinus-mexicanus 

1 ft., 2 in. 

ft., 7 in. 

Spiny butterfly ray 

Gymnura altavela 

4 ft., 8 in. 

6 ft., 10 in. 

Smooth butterfly ray 

Gymnura micrura 


3 ft., 6 m. 

Spotted eagle ray 

Aetobatus narinari 


7 ft., 7 in. 

Bat stingray 

Myliobatis californicus 


4 ft. 

Atlantic manta 

Manta birostris 
Hydrolagus affinus 

17 ft. 

4 ft., 1 in. 

22 ft. 




Hydrolagus colliei 

3 ft., 2 in. 


Appendix : 
Selachian Cookery 

Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the 

English Language defined oats as "a cereal 

eaten by people in Scotland and by horses elsewhere." Shark might be 

defined as a fish eaten by millions of people from England to Japan but 

vvastefully thrown away by many American fishermen. 

The American angler who catches a shark may bring it home, if only 
to impress the neighbors with his catch. Rarely does his catch reach the 
dinner table, as a bluefish or a halibut would. Many species of sharks— 
and most skates and rays, too— are delicious if the fisherman (or his 
wife) knows how to prepare them. 

The paramount rule of shark cookery is: do not delay. If the shark 
can be served fresh, serve it right away. If the shark is to be salted, 
salt it right away . 

One way to prepare shark meat for food is to cut fillets of the light 
portion of the meat about 9 by % inches thick and wash them thoroughly 
in salt water. Then either place the fillets on ice or in a refrigerator 
for about 24 hours to remove the "sharky" smell and taste. Next, soak 
them in a clean brine for two hours. They can now be cooked the way 
you would cook any kind of fillet. 

Dr. Eugenie Clark, the well-known ichthyologist, in a letter to the 
authors states: 

As for preparing shark meat, I have eaten it raw and cooked almost every 
way: steamed, boiled, broiled, breaded and deep-fried, etc. Once I served "shark 
fingers" to a group of guests. I also prepared snook "fingers" and put the shark 
fingers on one half of the serving platter and snook fingers on the other half. 
I told the guests I was serving them snook fingers and "fingers" from another 
kind of fish. I asked them if they could tell the difference. Some of the guests 
couldn't tell the difference, and others thought the shark fingers were better 
than those made from snook. 

Young sharks or embryo sharks make the best eating. The large sharks are 
stringy but can be made into a fine fish paste the way the Japanese prepare 
kamaboko. Since working with sharks closely and getting to know them as 
individuals, I'm starting to think of them more in terms of pets and do not eat 
shark meat as often as I used to. 


366 Shark and Company 

Dr. Clark said that she made no special efforts to rid the shark meat 
of any odor, for she found that "the slight odor of fresh shark meat 
disappeared shortly after cooking began and there was not a trace of 
'sharky odor' by the time the meat was thoroughly cooked." 

Sand sharks and almost all kinds of small sharks are edible. Hammer- 
heads, very large sharks, and the dark meat of any shark should not be 

Although the recipes that follow were prepared specifically for shark, 
the shark chef can use any recipe applicable to large fishes, whether fresh, 
salted, or smoked. 

Salted, smoked, or kippered, shark is delicious. It may also be salted 
and dried, flaked or shredded. In some parts of the meat, the layers of 
connective tissue are quite close together. These parts may be run 
through a meat chopper and used for fish balls. 

Shark Chowder 

2 pounds shark Few sprigs of parsley 

^ pound salt pork 1 quart milk 

2 small onions Salt, pepper to taste 

1 quart sliced raw potatoes 

Wash the shark thoroughly, cover with cold water, and boil until 
tender. Flake the fish or cut it into small pieces. Save the water. Cut 
the salt pork into small pieces and fry until crisp, then remove the pork 
scraps. In the fat fry the sliced onions, then add the potatoes and a little 
parsley and cook until done, adding a little water if necessary. When the 
potatoes are soft, add the hot milk and the flaked fish, salt and pepper, 
and heat through. Split Boston crackers or pieces of pilot bread may 
be placed in the chowder, or served with it. 

Shark Marseillaise 

2 large onions 1 clove garlic 

2 pounds shark 1 pinch saffron 

2 tablespoons olive oil Salt, pepper to taste 

4 tomatoes ^ glass water or fish stock 

Chop the onions fine and fry in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes cut 
into small pieces, the garlic, saffron, salt and pepper, and the water or 
fish stock. Place the fish, cut as usual, in the mixture, and allow to boil 
fast for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep the kettle covered tightly. Remove the 
fish and place on some slices of French bread which have been browned 
in the oven. Boil the liquid down a few minutes so that it will not be 
watery, correct the seasoning, and pour over the fish. 

Appendix: Selachian Cookery 367 

Shark Patties 

1 cup ground shark 1 tablespoon butter 

2 cups potato or commeal mush 1 egg 
% teaspoon pepper 

Wash the fish and shred fine in cold water. Wash, pare, and cut potatoes 
into pieces of uniform size. Cook fish and potatoes in boiling water for 
20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Drain, add the butter and the 
pepper, and mash fine with a fork. As soon as cool, add the egg, well 
beaten, and salt if necessary. Shape into patties by tablespoonfuls, leaving 
the outside rough, and fry in deep fat. 

Fried Shark, New England Style 

2 pounds shark Few sprigs parsley 

14 cup fine cornmeal 1 lemon 

V2 pound fat salt pork Salt, pepper to taste 

Cut the fish as usual, season well with salt and pepper, and roll in 
the cornmeal. Fry the fat salt pork in a shallow frying pan, and when 
crisp remove and keep hot. Place the fish in the pan and fry to a nice 
brown on both sides. Serve on a hot platter, with the salt pork over it, 
and garnish with parsley and slices of lemon. 

Fried Fillets of Shark Orly 

2 pounds shark Few sprigs parsley 

^ cup flour 1 lemon 

2 eggs Tomato sauce 

Bread crumbs 

Cut the fish into fillets, season well, and roll in flour; dip in beaten 
eggs and roll in bread crumbs. Fry in deep fat to a nice brown color. 
Drain and serve garnished with parsley and slices of lemon, with a sauce 
boat of tomato sauce on the side. 

Shark Saute Meuniere 

2 pounds shark 2 lemons 

14 cup flour Few sprigs parsley 

2 ounces butter Salt, pepper to taste 

Cut the fish into slices V2 inch thick, season well with salt and pepper, 
roll in flour, and fry in butter. Remove from the pan and place on a hot 
platter, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over it, add a little more butter in 
the pan, and when it stops foaming and is a light brown color, pour 
over the fish. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve very hot with 
quartered lemon. 

368 Shark and Company 

The following recipes call for smoked shark: 

Shark Cutlets 

1 % cups flaked smoked shark % tablespoon salt 

^ tablespoon chopped onion ^ tablespoon paprika 

2 tablespoons finely chopped 1 cup milk 
red peppers Sprigs parsley 

3 tablespoons butter Egg-bread crumb mixture 
1/3 cup flour 

Wash the smoked shark and boil for 20 minutes. Flake it. Cook the 
onion and the red peppers with butter for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 
Add the flour, mixed with salt and paprika, and stir until blended. Add 
the milk gradually, bring to the boiling point, add the flaked shark, 
and spread on a platter to cool. Shape, dip in tg^ and crumbs, and fry 
in deep fat, then drain on brown paper. Arrange on a serving dish, garnish 
with sprigs of parsley, and serve with Epicurean Sauce.* 

[*Epicurean Sauce] 

1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar Few grains cayenne 

2 tablespoons grated horseradish 1 cup whipped cream 

1 teaspoon mustard 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 

^ teaspoon salt 

Mix together the vinegar, horseradish, mustard, salt, and cayenne; 
add the whipped cream and the mayonnaise dressing. Beat thoroughly. 

Shark a la Newburg 

1 pound smoked shark 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
% cup butter, melted % cup thin cream 

Dash of pepper 2 t^g yolks 

Few gratings of nutmeg 

Soak the fish in warm water for ^ hour, then slowly t)ring to a boil 
and boil for 1 minute. Drain and add to the melted butter and cook for 
3 minutes. Add the seasonings, lemon juice with cream and yolks stirred 
into it, and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. 

Baked Smoked Shark 

2 pounds smoked shark 1 % tablespoons butter 
2 cups milk % teaspoon pepper 

1 tablespoon flour 

Wash the smoked shark and soak overnight in cold water. Place in a 
shallow baking pan, and pour the milk over it. Bake for 20 minutes in 

Appendix: Selachian Cookery 369 

a moderate oven, stirring into the milk, at the end of 15 minutes, the 
flour, butter and pepper. When thoroughly done, place the fish on a 
platter and pour the sauce of choice around it. 

Shark Salad 

2 cups smoked shark 2 tablespoons green pepper 

2 cups cooked potatoes 2 cups mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon onion Salt, pepper to taste 

1 cup celery 

Wash the smoked shark and boil until tender. Shred when cold, and 
add to the potatoes, which have been diced. Then put in the minced 
onion, celery, and green pepper. Mix thoroughly and add the mayon- 
naise, stirring slightly. (The addition of 3 hard-boiled eggs gives an 
even more nutritious and palatable salad.) 

In Tahiti, pieces of shark cut in cubes are eaten raw as are other 
white fishes without adding anything but lime juice to taste. 

The following recipes call for salt shark : 

Salt Shark Chowder 

% pint picked salt shark Salt and cayenne pepper to taste 

1 pint raw potatoes 1 pint milk 

1 large white onion Few tablespoons rich cream 

Pare and thinly slice the potatoes and the onion. Place the fish, po- 
tatoes, onion, and 1 cracker, crushed fine, in a hot buttered baking dish. 
Add the seasoning, cover with hot water, and boil gently for 20 minutes. 
Add the hot milk and cream and let boil up. Serve with crackers or 
toasted bread. 

Salt Shark au Gratin 

1 pound shark 1 cup boiling water 

1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons grated cheese 

1 tablespoon flour Bread crumbs 

Boil the fish gently for 2 hours, putting it over the fire in tepid 
water; let cool and mince fine. Make a drawn-butter sauce by cooking 
together 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour and stirring them into a 
cup of boiling water until the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir the fish 
into this, add pepper to taste, and mix with the cheese. Turn into a 
baking dish, sprinkle with crumbs, bits of butter, and a little more 
grated cheese, and brown in the oven. 

370 Shark and Company 

Salt Shark en Casserole 

1 cup shark 1 cup milk 

1 tablespoon butter Bread crumbs 

1 tablespoon flour 

Pick into small pieces 1 cup shark, which has been soaked overnight. 
Melt the butter, add the flour, and gradually pour in the milk, which 
has been heated. Cook until of a creamy consistency and add the fish. 
Spread crumbed bread on the bottom of the casserole, dot with little 
pieces of butter, add a dash of pepper and possibly a little salt, and pour 
in the creamed fish while hot. Cover with bread crumbs, dot with butter, 
and bake in a hot oven until brown. 

The "wings," or fleshy pectorals, of skates and rays are popular 
fish dishes in Europe. The skate is particularly prized. Some French 
gourmets say that if the "wings" are allowed to stand for a couple of 
days, they improve in flavor. 

Raie au Beurre Noir (Rayfish in Black Butter) 

Recipe served everywhere in maritime France (and on the French 
Line).^ Cut the ray into portions and cook it in l^ liter of vinegar and 2 
liters of water, salt, slices of carrots and onions, thyme, bay leaf, a little 
garlic, some black pepper in seeds, parsley and celery. Once cooked, 
take ofi^ the black skin. Then sprinkle with a little vinegar, some capers, 
parsley and chopped chervil and pour over black butter at time of serv- 

The ray could be served "Proven9ale," too, or boiled with caper 

Fried Skate (or Ray) 

3 % pounds skate or ray wing Flour seasoned with salt 

Vinegar court bouillon^ Pepper 

Nutmeg 4 tablespoons butter 

Strain ofi^ the bouillon. Cut skate or ray into serving pieces. Simmer 
the fish in 1 quart of court bouillon for 15 minutes. Dry thoroughly 
and roll the pieces in the seasoned flour. Fry them in hot butter until 
brown. Be careful when turning as they may fall apart. 

1 Also, for over 20 years at a French restaurant on West 49th Street in New York, 
on one day a week. 

2 If vinegar court bouillon is not made up, simmer a mixture of 1 cup vinegar, 
2 quarts cold water, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 small sliced carrots, 1 large sliced onion, 2 bay 
leaves, 2 cloves, I dozen peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon thyme for 30 minutes. 

Appendix: Selachian Cookery 371 

BoiLi D Skate Parisienne 

3^2 to 4 pounds skate (or ray) 1 cup caper sauce* 

wings 2 medium-sized onions, sliced thin 

% cup vinegar % teaspoon pepper 

2 cups cold water 2 cloves 

1 tablespoon salt 2 bay leaves 

2 small carrots, sliced thin 

Place all the ingredients except the fish in a pot and bring to a boil 
and simmer 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and simmer the fish in it for 
20 to 30 minutes or until quite tender. Remove the skin and serve at 
once with caper sauce. 

[*Caper Sauce] 

3 tablespoons butter % teaspoon lemon juice 

1 Y) tablespoons flour V2 cup washed and drained capers 

% cup hot water 

Melt half the butter and blend with the flour. Gradually stir in the 
hot water. Boil for 5 minutes and stir in the lemon juice and the rest 
of the butter, followed by the capers. 

Dutch Ray Sauce 

H. Koster, deputy director of the great Dutch fish market at Ijmui- 
den, passes along this old Dutch fishermen's recipe for a sauce to be 
used with ray: 

4 small teacups water Milk to taste 

1 small teacup vinegar Pepper to taste 

3 tablespoons flour 1 egg 

Dress flour with part of the water until it is smooth and has no lumps. 
Put this into heated water just before it boils. Let it boil for a few mo- 
ments. Add vinegar and milk to taste. Take sauce from the fire and 
whisk yolk of egg through it. When serving, add pepper to taste. 

The Shark Fin Dish 

"To the Chinese, cooking is entirely an art," writes F. T. Cheng 
in his Musings of a Chinese Gourmet. Dr. Cheng, former Chinese 
Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, is one of Free China's most 
distinguished men. A former judge of the Permanent Court of Inter- 
national Justice, he is a Fellow of University College, London, and a 
member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Panel for Inquiry 
and Conciliation of the United Nations. Diplomat, jurist, philosopher 
and scholar, he writes: 

372 Shark and Company 

"Chinese cooks derive their knowledge more from experience than 
from books, and trust to the hand, the eye, the nose, the tongue and 
often to the ear as well, rather than depend on the scale or the watch." 

Their food, he points out, may seem exotic to the Western palate. 
But the food is also immensely rich, both in nutrition and taste. Of 
shark fin, he notes, 100 grams contain 384 calories and high percentages 
of proteins, calcium, and phosphorus. "Well prepared, it is not only 
most delicious to the palate, but also most wholesome to the system." 

He judges the shark fin of the PhiUppines, the "Manila Yellow," 
the best for preparation of The Shark Fin Dish. His instructions for 
its preparation: 

1. Soak the fin in cold water for 3 days to soften it. 

2. Simmer for 4 to 5 hours until its skin comes off and the fin (the 
inner cartilage) can be removed. The water must be changed every 15 
minutes during the first hour, and every 30 minutes during the following 

3. Gently clean the fin so that nothing remains except the translucent 
cartilage crescent itself. 

4. When it is absolutely clean, place it, intact, on a net made of fine 
silver wire so that it will not loosen and fall apart during subsequent 
stages of preparation. (Dr. Cheng points out that a rack or net of bamboo 
is sometimes used. But this is inferior, for an infinitesimal trace of a 
bamboo taste may be imparted to the fin.) 

5. Simmer the fin again for three-quarters of an hour with 2 slices 
of green ginger, a few pieces of spring onion, and 1 glass of wine, 
preferably sherry. Change the water twice. 

6. Put the fin in a double boiler with % pound of ham and pork and 
the meat of 1 fresh chicken. Add 1 glass of wine, preferably sherry, 
and 2 cups of water. Cook over a medium fire until the fin is tender- 
about 3 hours. (If the fin is overdone, it will melt.) 

7. Remove the fin carefully and place it in a pan. Discard the juice 
it was cooked in. Pour over it a previously prepared bouillon consisting 
of a cut-up fresh chicken and 3 ounces of cut-up lean ham, all cooked 
without water in a double boiler. Cook this combination of fin and 
concentrated bouillon for about 10 minutes. Add a teaspoon of soya 
sauce. Serve hot. (The last stage should be so timed that The Shark Fin 
Dish can be served immediately.) 

Dr. Cheng calls this dish Hung Shau. Few amateur chefs would 
attempt it. Shark Fin Soup is a challenge even in its simplest form. For 
the less adventurous cook who does not want to cope with the cleaning 
of a shark fin, the cartilaginous fibers are available in gourmet specialty 
houses in packaged form. Using this pre-cleaned, packaged shark fin 

Appendix: Selachian Cookery 373 

(it looks like anemic spaghetti), here is a simplified Shark Fin Soup 
recipe provided the authors by Y. K. Kealoha of the Ke-Aloha Hawaii 
House in Miami: 

Simplified Shark Fin Soup 

6 ounces dried shark fin 2^ pound chicken (fryer) 

% pound lean pork 2 tablespoons cornstarch 

Pork bones 

Rinse the shark fin and soak for 4 hours in 8 cups of warm water. 
Pour ofi^ the water, rinse again and drain. Place in a pot, add 6 cups of 
warm water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour. Pour oflF the water 
and repeat the process. Drain. Bring the pork, pork bones, and 8 cups 
of water to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chicken and 
simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, pork, and pork bones. 
Remove the breast meat of chicken and shred. Add the shark fin to the 
stock and simmer for 1 hour. Add the shredded breast meat (and, if 
desired, some finely shredded Virginia ham), salt, and a mixture of 2 
tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Simmer for 5 minutes. 
Serves 6. 

Here is another recipe from the Home Economics Department of 
the Honolulu Gas Company. It adds a Pacific flavor to the soup: 

Shark Fin Soup (Hawaii Style) 

% pound shark fin 16 cups water 

^ chicken 2 egg whites 

^ pound lean pork ^ teaspoon gourmet powder 

4 dried scallops Salt to taste 

y^ cup lean ham (diced) 

Soak and clean the shark fin as usual. Parboil and rinse in cold water. 
Repeat 3 times. Drain. Boil the chicken, pork and dried scallops in water 
over a low flame for 1 hour. Take out the chicken and the pork. Discard 
the scallops. Add the shark fin and boil for 1 hour. Shred the chicken meat 
and the pork and add with the ham to the shark fin. Beat egg whites 
and stir into the soup. Add salt and gourmet powder. (A small amount 
of cornstarch and minced green onion may be added.) Serve very hot. 

Shark Fin Soup Supreme 

Madame Grace Chu is a product of Old China. She left China when 
the Communist regime took power, and lives today in New York City, 
where she teaches advanced classes in Chinese cookery. In her advanced 
classes, however, she only speaks of The Shark Fin Dish. It is, to her, 

374 Shark and Company 

a work of art that amateur chefs can no more attempt than amateur 
painters can attempt the Mona Lisa. 

First, then, Shark Fin Soup. It began, in Old China, with the acqui- 
sition of the finest fins. They came from Calcutta, and they were costly 
—so costly that they had no price. An agent for the host procured them, 
as a jeweler would procure, with painstaking care, a rare gem. The 
finest fins were those sold as a set from one shark, and only these fins— 
the tall first dorsal, the sleek pectorals, the lower lobe of the tail— would 
do. Within these fins is the ambrosia which is the essence of the soup: 
delicate, translucent cartilage. 

Today, a cook may buy the cartilage alone, packaged in plastic 
instead of a fin. But in preparing true Shark Fin Soup, one starts with the 
fins themselves. Even before they reach the rare market that sells them, 
the fins have undergone days of preparation. The fins are sliced off 
when the shark is skinned. Every bit of meat is trimmed off to prevent 
rotting. After the fins are trimmed, they are washed and usually left 
overnight in sea water. Then they are spread on chicken wire racks 
set up 2 or 3 feet above ground. During the first few days of the drying 
period, the fins must be taken in during the night to protect them from 
the evening dampness. They must also be sheltered from rain, which 
would spoil them. It takes about 14 days, in good weather with plenty 
of sunshine, for the fins to dry properly. 

The dried fins are sold by retailers with the gelatin intact, and the 
price makes shark fins one of the most expensive delicacies on earth. 

Today, in New York City, the cost of preparing four servings of 
Shark Fin Soup is about $15. In a fine Chinese restaurant, the manage- 
ment must be notified several days in advance if one is planning to 
order Shark Fin Soup. The price varies, in a somewhat inscrutable way, 
depending on the size of the table and, it almost seems, the character of 
the diners. There is still a ritualistic aura around Shark Fin Soup, even 
in the New World. A price of $10 a serving is not unusual. 

To be prepared exquisitely. Shark Fin Soup takes at least 4 days. 
The fin is daintily bathed for 2 days and 2 nights in water of a critical 
temperature. What that temperature is can better be gauged by the eye 
and the hand of a chef than by a thermometer. The water must be 
warm enough to cleanse the fin of sand and bits of flesh, yet it cannot 
be so warm that it melts the gelatinous cartilage within. 

Even after 2 days and 2 nights of gentle bathing, the fin emits a 
terrible smell. To remove the smell, the fin is wrapped with raw chicken 
and pork chops in a cheesecloth bag and steamed for about 4 hours. 
The chicken and the pork chops are thrown away, and the fin is steamed 
again with new chicken and pork chops. 

Now it is ready. A broth of chicken stock has been prepared in 

Appendix: Selachian Cookery 375 

advance. The cartilage is removed from the fin and shredded into the 
chicken stock. The shark fin admittedly has virtually no taste. Its role 
in the soup is to impart a faint, new essence, which is only a shadow of 
a taste. 

The Shark Fin Dish is a highly refined version of Shark Fin Soup. 
It begins with a crucial decision by a rare chef. He must select a fin, 
the finest among the finest, whose cartilage will not break up during 
the long and cautious cleansing process. This extraordinary fin is cleansed 
and purified with the chicken and the pork chops. Then, at the fin's 
moment of profound purpose, the cartilage is removed from it, intact. 
If the chef has selected well and prepared it perfectly, the cartilage 
looks like a shimmering, golden-yellow fan. This fan is gently placed 
in a broth of chicken stock, where it is cooked for about ^A hour. It 
is at this critical stage in the creation of The Shark Fin Dish that a chef 
can be driven mad. For, if he cooks the delicate cartilage too harshly, 
it will melt and disappear before his eyes. 

After this courageous cooking, the fan-like cartilage is placed on a 
silver platter. Around it, arranged as skillfully as the setting of a precious 
stone, are mushrooms, chestnuts, snow peas and other foods, chosen 
more for their color and texture than their taste. A delicate soya sauce 
is sometimes added to the shark fin, again more for a touch of color 
than for flavor. 

"It is beautiful to behold," says Madame Chu. And in those words 
is the true essence of The Shark Fin Dish, for it is a food not merely to 
be eaten, but to be contemplated as a work of art: a part of a great 
shark caught at great peril, bought at great price, cleansed with great care, 
cooked with great skill, and presented to a guest with great homage. 

Japanese fishermen probably haul in for sale more sharks than any 
other fishermen in the world. The authors are grateful to Professor 
Mamoru Oshiba of Himeji University of Technology in Japan, for his 
efforts in gathering the information that follows. 

Through Professor Oshiba's eff^orts, we have obtained from Professor 
Wataru Shimizu of the Department of Fishery at Kyoto University 
a thorough description of shark cookery in Japan. Professor Shimizu 
says that the flesh of a big shark is not relished in Japan because of its 
taste and ofi^ensive odor. But the smaller sharks— most of them dog- 
fish—are eaten in various ways. 

The body of a Hoshizame {Mustelus manazoY is chopped up, fresh, 
and boiled in water. It is eaten with a vinegar-and-bean paste. The 

3 Scientific names are given as they are used in Japan, where scientific nomencla- 
ture does not fully agree with Western classification. 

376 Shark and Company 

Hoshizame is also sometimes salted and dried and then cooked the same 
way. Another of the 90-odd species of shark known in Japanese 
waters, Neziimizame (Vulpecula marina), a Thresher shark, is boiled 
and sometimes roasted. It is particularly relished around Tokyo. Shark 
ovaries are used to make atsuyaki, a kind of fish-paste. They are also 
used to make a special kind of cake. The ovaries are also used as sub- 
stitutes for eggs. 

The flesh of the Aburazame (Squalus sucklii) is the principal in- 
gredient of chikuiva, a fish-cake product that looks like a sausage with 
a hole through it. Chikuiva is a popular Japanese fish product. About 
150,000 tons— worth some $41 million— is produced a year. 

But it is kamaboko that gets most of Japan's sharks. According to 
Masabumi Yoshioka, treasurer of the Kanetetsu Company in Kobe, 
and Akiyoshi Okada, the factory manager, their factory alone produces 
12,000 tons of kamaboko a year. 

Like the shark itself, which figures in Japanese legends back to the 
dimmest remembered time, kamaboko has a long history. A short 
time before the feudal age in Japan, people began roasting crushed fish 
flesh on bamboo skewers. Because its shape resembled the top of a cat- 
tail, it was called kamaboko, or "cattail head." At the end of the feudal 
age, just before the Meiji Restoration in the nineteenth century, kama- 
boko began to appear in shops throughout Japan, and its popularity 
has been increasing ever since. About 420,000 tons of kamaboko are 
now produced in Japan each year. 

Kamaboko is made by crushing the flesh of fish. Then it is mixed 
with cornstarch, potato starch, salt, saccharin, dulcin, and vitamin addi- 
tives. After it is shaped into a round or rectangular form of about the 
thickness of a pancake, it is steamed or roasted. 

Shark is not the only kind of fish used in making kamaboko. Sea 
eels, croakers, and flatheads are among the fish used. But two types of 
kamaboko— czWtd ampei (shaped like a flat box) and haben (shaped 
like a flat ball)— use shark exclusively. In a somewhat frank description, 
Mr. Yoshioka and Mr. Okada say these pure-shark kamaboko are "as 
elastic as crude rubber." The Yoshikirizame shark {Prionace glauca) is 
one of the sharks used most frequently in making kamaboko. 

According to Professor Kenichi Kagawa of the Himeji University 
of Technology, shark fishing in Japan has been on a constant rise, from 
152,869 tons in 1950 to 346,444 tons in 1957. But, perhaps because of the 
constant fishing, fishermen report that sharks are becoming less numer- 
ous in Japanese waters. Kazuhiko Suzuki of the Japanese Department of 
Fishery says that, with the development of oceanic fishing for sharks, 
methods will be perfected to keep sharks fresh during long fishing 
trips. He also points out that some parts of the shark which were for- 

Appendix: Selachian Cookery 377 

merlv thrown away are now being used and have been found to be very 
valuable. For this reason, he predicts a continual increase in Japanese 
shark consumption. 

Curiously, Japanese palates are not so attracted to shark fin as are 
Chinese palates. Centuries ago, the Shoguns who ruled Japan established 
an office in Nagasaki to handle the business of fiika-hire—shzrk fins. 
But at that time fiika-hire was primarily exported to China for shark 
fin gourmets, and even today in Japan fiika-hire is known as a "Chinese 


In addition to Captain Young on the one 
hand, and a very long list of correspond- 
ents on the other— see addendum to the Bibliography— there are a 
number of specialists who aided us in compiling this work in various 
ways; and with especially outstanding generosity. We are grateful 
for the opportunity to acknowledge this help and try to thank these 
selfless helpers and friends by name. The authors wish to apologize to 
many of the people who have given their help for not incorporating in 
this volume all of the extensive material supplied. There are limitations to 
what can be included in a "popular" volume on the Selachians— those 
judged by the authors, and those imposed by the publisher in the light 
of the market in which his promotions hope to realize a profit. 

Among scientists and others with whom we worked, we would espe- 
cially single out: Dr. Percy Gilbert, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.; 
Dr. Leonard P. Schultz, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C; Dr. 
Stewart Springer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Dr. Henry B. Bigelow, 
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Dr. Eugenie Clark, Cape Haze 
Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Fla.; Mr. L. R. Moresi, Ocean Leather Cor- 
poration, Newark, N. J.; Mr. Charles E. Jackson, National Fisheries Insti- 
tute, Washington, D. C; Mr. A. L. Allyn, Shark Chaser Chemical Com- 
pany, San Pedro, Calif.; Mr. Riley H. Allen, the Honolulu Star Bulletin, 
Honolulu, Hawaii; Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Anderson, Bakersfield, Calif.; Dr. 
Paul Budker, Counseller Technique, Ministere de la France d'Outre Mer, 
Paris, France; Miss Yvonne Fran9ois, Societe des Pecheries Coloniales 
au Requin, Paris, France; Gilbert Dukan, M.D., Paris, France; Dr. E. 
Bertelsen, Danmarks Fiskeri og Havunder0gelser, Charlottenlund, Den- 
mark; Dr. Klaus Sunnanaa, Director of Fisheries, Bergen, Norway; Mr. 
H. Ler0y, Ler0y Hallvaard, A.S., Bergen, Norway; Dr. Johannes Lund- 
beck, Director, and Dr. Dietrich Sahrhage, Institute for Sea Fisheries, Ham- 
burg, Germany; Dr. E. F. Akyuz, Fisheries Research Center, Istanbul, Tur- 
key; Mr. Arthur Heighway, publisher. Fishing Neivs, London, England; 
Mr. C. A. Wiard, Billingsgate and Leadenhall Market, London, England; 
Dr. Errol White, British Museum (N. H.), London, England; Dr. Denys 
Tucker, formerly British Museum (N. H.), London, England; Dr. Har- 
rison Matthews, Zoological Society of London, England; Mr. J. Jangaard, 


Acknoivledgmerits 379 

Billingsgate Market, London, England; Mr. A. D. Hald, Norwegian 
Chamber of Commerce, London, England; Mr. H. Koster, Ijmuiden, 
Netherlands; Dr. David H. Davies, South African Association for Marine 
Biological Research; Mr. R. T. Harrison, Veld & Vlei Magazine, Durban, 
South Africa; Dr. Gilbert P. Whitley, The Australian Museum, Sydney, 
Australia; Dr. Mamoru Oshiba, Himesi University of Technology, Hyogo- 
Ken, Japan. 

We also wish to express our appreciation to the Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology of Harvard University for permission to reproduce 
Dr. Samuel Carman's illustrations from The Plagiostoma; to Dr. Henry 
B. Bigelow for permission to reproduce illustrations from Fishes of the 
Wester?! North Atlantic, Memoir, Sears Foundation for Marine Re- 
search; to Dr. Gilbert P. Whitley for permission to reproduce material 
and illustrations from The Fishes of Australia; to the Johannesburg 
(South Africa) Star; to the Marine Laboratory of the University of 
Miami; to the staff of the Australian News and Information Bureau in 
New York; to the New York Times for the use of its files; to the staffs 
of the American Museum of Natural History library, and the U.N. In- 
formation Service and Guild Hall hbraries of London; to Miss Betsey 
Land Quentin, niece of the late Dr. Gudger, who provided the authors 
with a collection of his writings which appeared in journals throughout 
the world. 

We are indebted to the many citizens of Matawan, New Jersey, in- 
cluding Miss Mabel Brown of the Matawan Journal, Mr. Rensselaer L. 
Cartan, Mr. Arthur Smith, Mr. John N. Smith, and Mr. Arthur S. Van 
Buskirk, without whose aid in reconstructing events the first chapter of this 
book could not have been written. Thanks to R. J. Faulkingham, M.D., 
of De Land, Florida, we were also able to clarify facts on the Matawan 
attacks which had been lost for more than half a century. 

We also thank Mr. Craig Phillips, previously Curator of the Seaquar- 
ium in Miami, Florida, and presently attached to the Commercial Fish- 
eries Division of the Department of the Interior, of the Federal Govern- 
ment, in charge of the technical planning of our new National Aquarium- 
to-be. Mr. Phillips read through the entire manuscript with more than just 
a professionally critical eye. He is a trained ichthyologist and has a long 
and close experience with the Selachians in particular, and he made a 
large number of more than just worthwhile suggestions and emendations 
to the work. To him we are most extremely indebted. 

Mr. Sterling Lanier made an extraordinary contribution, mostly but 
not exclusively to the technical side of the work. 

The publishers have given the patience and the technical skill of the 
editors and various departments at Chilton Books. 

We have drawn upon many periodicals, to which individual citations 

380 A cknoivledgments 

are not practical, because they have been used continually, providing us 
with a steady accumulation of current material. 

These include The Fishing News, London; Sea Frontiers, Interna- 
tional Oceanographic Foundation; Commercial Fisheries Review, pub- 
Hshed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Fishery Leaflets, separate 
publications, translations, and foreign consular reports also published by 
Fish and Wildlife, which truly cover the waterfront from Maine to 
Madagascar, from New England to New South Wales. Two other pub- 
lications— Tr^fie News, published by the Canadian Department of Fish- 
eries, and Fisheries Newsletter, published by the Australian Director of 
Fisheries— also have been invaluable, as have World Fishing, published 
in London, and many documents of the United Nations Food and Agri- 
cultural Organization. 

We have also used sources that cannot be reduced to the orthodox 
bibliographic form, for they are not writings, but people. We have cor- 
responded with them in many lands. Their names and titles are listed 

F. Amundsen, director of Fisheries, Norway. 

Dr. Jose Rafael Anido, secretary-general. Office of Commerce, Agricul- 
ture and Industry, Dominican Republic. 

Richard C. Bailey, director, The Kern County Museum, Bakersfield, 

Mrs. Emery E. Bassett, librarian. The Submarine Library, Groton, Con- 

Carl P. Beck, commercial fisherman. Beck Brothers, Oceano, California. 

G. J. Blanco, zoologist, Bureau of Fisheries of the Republic of the Philip- 


Edwin H. Bryan, Jr., curator of collections, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 
Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Harvey R. Bullis, Jr., Gulf Fisheries Exploration and Gear Research, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pascagoula, Mississippi. 

F. M. BuNDY, president, Gorton's of Gloucester, Gloucester, Massachu- 

C. J. BuTTSwoRTH, Undersecretary, Chief Secretary's Department, Syd- 
ney, Australia. 

Francis J. Captiva, Fishery Methods and Equipment Specialist, Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Pascagoula, Mississippi. 

Leonard Carmichael, secretary. The Smithsonian Institution, Washing- 
ton, D.C. 

F. P. Chapman, Division of Fisheries, Department of Commerce and In- 
dustries, Union of South Africa. 

Richard S. Charles, founder and president, Underwater Skindivers and 
Fishermen's Association of Australia. 

Acknowledgments 381 

C. J. Edmonds, Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine, London, 

J. W. Evans, director, The Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia. 

R. Faulkner, manager, Hudson's Bay Company, Rigolet, Labrador. 

W. Dudley Gunn, secretary-treasurer. Gulf Stream A4arine Fisheries 

Anders D. Hald, Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in London, England. 

Bruce W. Halstead, biotoxicologist, U.S. Naval Medical School, Na- 
tional Naval A4edical Center, Bethesda, A4aryland. 

Paul Hansen, Greenland Fisheries Research, Copenhagen, Denmark. 

M. W. Hicks, British Ministry of Food, Fish Division, London, England. 

Sam Hinton, curator, Aquarium-Museum, Scripps Institution of Ocean- 
ography, La Jolla, California. 

Kenny K. Huang, vice consul. Republic of China, Consulate, New York 
City, and T. P. Chen, fisheries research, Taiwan. 

C. P. Idyll, research professor. The Marine Laboratory, University of 

Miami, Florida. 

Dr. G. Krefft, Institute for Seafisheries, Hamburg, Germany. 

J. le G. Lacy, deputy chief inspector of Fisheries, British Ministry of 
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, London, England. 

Francesca LaMonte, associate curator of Fishes, The American Museum 
of Natural History, New York City. 

G. Laurence, New Zealand Government Trade Commission, New York 

T. S. Leach, chief inspector of Fisheries, British Ministry of Agriculture, 
Fisheries and Food, London, England. 

Harold Loesch, marine biologist. State of Alabama Department of Con- 
servation, Bayou La Batre, Alabama. 

Hugh Lytle, assistant to the editor. The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, 

Mary Macdonald, Fisheries Division, Scottish Home Department, Edin- 

A. Maynard, Fisheries Branch, Department of Lands, Dublin, Ireland. 

D. Mills, Salmon Research Laboratory, Scottish Home Department, 


James F. Murdock, research aide. The Marine Laboratory, University 
of Miami, Florida. 

C. T. Newnham, regional medical officer, Western Region, British 
Transport Commission, London, England. 

N. D. Nielsen, Department of Fisheries, Denmark. 

G. L. O'Halloran, secretary for Marine, Marine Department, Welling- 
ton, New Zealand. 

Davio Olafsson, Fisheries Association of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland. 

382 Acknowledgments 

SvENN Orvig, director, Arctic Institute of North America, Montreal, 

Harold F. Osborne, director. Biology News Bureau, American Institute 

of Biological Sciences, Washington, D.C. 
Dr. Colin S. Pittendrigh, Department of Biology, Princeton University, 

Princeton, New Jersey. 
A. M. Rapson, chief of Division of Fisheries, Territory of Papua and 

New Guinea, Port Moresby, New Guinea. 
C. Richard Robins, research associate professor. The Marine Laboratory, 

University of Miami, Florida. 
T. C. RouGHLEY, former superintendent of New South Wales Fisheries; 

former president of the Royal Zoological Society, and the Linnean 

Society of New South Wales, and former president of the Great 

Barrier Reef Game Fish Angling Club. 
Martin H. Routh, Fisheries officer. Technical Assistance Board of Food 

and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, New York 

SvEN Sahlin, chief of section. Board of Fisheries of Sweden, Stockholm. 
Ann M. Savours, assistant librarian, The Scott Polar Research Institute, 

Cambridge, England. 
Secretaria de Estado Necogicios do interior e Justico, Pernambuco, 

S. B. Setna, Fisheries Section, Department of Industries, and C. V. Kul- 

KARNi, director of Fisheries, Bombay, India. 
A. C. Simpson, Association for Marine Biological Research, Durban, 

Union of South Africa. 
George F. Sternberg, curator. The Fort Hays Kansas State College 

Museums, Hays, Kansas. 
Bishop John A. Subhan, The Methodist Church in Southern Asia, Bom- 
bay, India. 
H. L. A. Tarr, director. The Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ot- 
tawa, and his associates: J. C. Stevenson, assistant director; F. H. 

Wooding, director of information and educational service, and T. B. 

Turner, director of information and consumer service. 
Professor Enrico Tortonese, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genova, 

Dr. Denys W. Tucker, formerly British Museum (N.H.), London. 
John H. von Glahn, executive secretary. The Fishery Council of New 

Lionel A. Walford, director, Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory, High- 
lands, New Jersey. 
Martin Ware, M.B., M.R.C.P., assistant editor. The British Medical 

Journal, London, England. 

Acknowledgments 383 

William G. Ware, director, Division of Maritime Safety, U.S. Navy 
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F. W. Weble, manager, Shetland Fish, Ltd., Lerwick, Shetland Islands. 

E. S. Whitman, director of public relations, United Fruit Company, 
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Kenneth M. Young, assistant treasurer and manager. Land Department, 
Oahu Railway and Land Company, Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Rainer Zangerl, curator, Fossil Reptiles, Chicago Natural History Mu- 
seum, Chicago, Illinois. 

The authors also corresponded with several officers of the U.S. For- 
eign Service, who were helpful in obtaining information in several coun- 
tries. These Foreign Service officers included Edward T. Walters, vice 
consul, Recife, Brazil; John I. Fishburne, economic attache, Quito, 
Ecuador; Michael A. Falzone, vice consul, Bremen, Germany; and 
Jack C. Miklos, vice consul, Istanbul, Turkey. 


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Abalone, 23 

Abrahams, Otto, 68 

Abiibunsa?fm, 251 

Aburazame, 376 

Abyssal Skate, 258, 259 

Abyssinians, 77 

Acanthias vulgaris, 111 

Acajithidhim molleri, 357 

Achill's Bay (Eire), 181 

Adams, H.'m., 19 

Adams, John, 42 

Adelaide (Australia), 330 

Aetobatus narinari, 267, 273, 364 

Agassiz, Prof. Louis, 236 

Age, way of determining, 351 

Ahwaz (Iran), 344 

Air (Swim) Bladder, 221 

Aizame Shark, 194 

Alabama, 210 

Alaska, 106, 143, 184, 260, 286, 294, 304, 

325, 339, 351, 357 
Albino selachians, 252 
Albury, Capt. John, 68 
Aleutian Islands, The, 352 
Ali Young, 77 
Alligator Shark, 357 
Alopias pelagiciis, 309 
Alopias profundus, 310 
Alopias siiperciliosus, 310 
Alopias viilpimis, 21, 107, 174, 224, 308, 363 
Alopiidae, 244, 308 
Ama (Japanese divers), 52 
Amagansett (L. I.), 21, 320 
Amazon River, The, 266, 342 
Ambrosio, Frank M., 35 
American "Indians," 143, 176, 191, 264, 267 
American Institute of Biological Sciences, 

43, 129 
American Museum of Natural History 

(N. Y.), 5, 14, 78, 129, 211 
Anacanthobatidae, 255 
Anderson, Chris, 3 

Andrea Doria, The, 328 

Anegada Island (B.W.I.) , 86 

Anesthetics (M.S. 222), 37 

Angelfish, 191, 279, 287 

Angel Shark, 82, 244, 279, 285, 287, 363 

Antarctic, The, 243, 356 

Apristnrus brimneiis, 325 

Arabia, Gulf of, 349 

Arabian Sea, The, 313, 345 

Arabs, 77, 169, 173 

Aranson, Lester B., 129 

Archbishop Fish, 285 

Arctic Ocean, The, 356 

Arctic Skate, 243 

Argentina, 280, 309, 353 

Aristophanes, 178 

Aristotle, 230, 236 

Asai, lona, 52 

Asbury Park (N. J.), 5, 19 

Askew, John, 28 

Atchafalaya River (La.), 339 

Atkins, Edwin F., 68 

Atlantic Guitarfish, 364 

Atlantic Highlands (N. J.), 4 

Atlantic Manta Ray, 364 

Atlantic Nurse Shark, 310 

Atlantic Ocean, The, 1, 14, 27, 30, 48, 
101, 123, 146, 177, 190, 257, 271, 273, 
291, 304, 310, 318, 321, 324, 327, 328, 
329, 330, 333, 343, 348, 357 

Atlantic Round Sting Ray, 272 

Atlantic Sting Ray, 364 

Atlantic Torpedo, 364 

Atsuyaki, 116 

Attacks, 1, 3, 6, 10, 11, 18, 20, 26, 31, 34, 
40, 41, 43, 44, 48, 49, 52, 67, 79, 84, 
115, 282, 296, 302, 327, 330, 336, 340, 
343-346, 348 
on Boats, 51, 57, 58, 80, 300 

Attractants, 47, 48, 50, 130 

Atwood, Capt. Nathaniel E., 301 

Auckland (N. Z.), 267 



Australia, 20, 23, 28, 37, 41, 43, 46, 52, 55, 
58, 62, 79, 97, 118, 120, 129, 142, 154, 
171, 193, 198, 233, 240, 274, 278, 279, 
280, 286, 293, 294, 295, 300, 302, 303, 
308, 309, 310, 320, 328, 329, 334, 336, 
339, 343, 345, 346, 348, 349, 352, 358, 

Australian Aborigines, 267 

Australian Grey Nurse Shark, 42 

Australian Museum, The, 156 

Austria, 150, 167 

Ayrshire, The ship, 148 

Azores, The, 249 

Bahamas, 95, 121, 123, 301 

Bakersfield (Cal.), 210, 214 

Balaenoptera musculus, 218 

Banjo Shark, 279 

Barbados, 147 

Barbs (of Sting Rays), 143 

"Barnacle Lil," 99 

Barndoor Skate, 159, 163, 259, 260, 364 

Barometers (of shark oil), 193 

Barracuda, 56, 93 

Basking Shark, 95, 134, 180, 200, 219, 220, 

224, 244, 304, 363 
Bassford, John, 35 
Bass Strait, 171 
Batoidei, 217, 246 
Batoids, 244, 245, 286 
Bat Sting Ray, 272, 364 
Baughman, J. L., 317 
Bay of Fundy, 300, 322 
Bayonne (N. J.), 5 
Bay Shark, 329 
Beach Haven (N. J.), 1, 15 
Beebe, William, 25, 317 
Beef Island (B.W.I.) , 85 
Belford (N. J.), 7 
Belgium, 167, 176 
Bering Sea, The, 357 
Bering Strait, 356 
Bermuda, 58, 193 
Bernstein, Brian, 102 
Bible, The, 173 

Big-Eyed Thresher Shark, 310 
Big Pine Key (Fla.), 67 
Big Skate, 260, 364 
Billingsgate Market (London), 166 
Biloxi (Miss.), 163 

Bimini (Bahamas), 95, 121, 229, 282, 301 
Bingham Oceanographic Lab., 258 

Births of selachians, 105, 284 

Bishop Fish, 285 

Bishop Museum, The (Honolulu), 141 

Bismarck Archipelago, 91 

Bjerland, Dr. Bjern, 356 

Black-Bellied Dogfish, 354 

Black Dogfish, 354 

"Black Shark" (a teleost), 354 

Black-Spotted Shark, 320 

Black-Tipped Sand Shark, 162, 163 

Blacktip Shark, 198, 326 

Black Whaler, 329, 330 

Blegvad, H., 345 

Blind Torpedo Ray, 250 

Block Island (R. I.), 114, 309 

Blood (in sea), 44, 47, 54 

Blue Nurse Shark, 297 

Blue Pointer Shark, 55, 82, 102, 302 

"Blue Porpoise" (Mako), 302 

Blue Shark, 100, 103, 107, 189, 303, 334, 

Great, 95, 104, 139, 169, 332 
Blue Whale, 218 
Blue Whaler, 332 
Bolin, Ralph L., 36 
Bondi (Australia), 84 
Bone Shark, 304 
"Bonito" (Mako), 302 
Bonito Shark, 169 
Bonnethead Shark, 363 
Bonnet-Nosed Shark, 163, 348 
Bonnet Shark, 348 
Bootha, Peter, 103 
Boothbav Harbor (Maine), 54 
Borden Company (Shark Ind. Div.), 126, 

Boroso, 200 

Boston (Mass.), 10, 300 
Botany Bay (Australia), 240, 269 
Bottle-Nosed Dolphin, 83 
Bowers, John, 311 
Boynton Beach (Fla.), 93 
Bradley Beach (N. J.),255 
Brady, Brookner, 35 
Brady, Patrick, 156 
Brains of sharks, 227 
Bramble Shark, 117, 244, 357 
Brazil, 153, 174, 270, 271, 275, 276, 284, 

297, 322, 325, 327, 331 
Breathing (respiration), 235 
Breder, Jr., Dr. C. M., 282 
Bregenz (Austria), 150 



Breviraja sinus-mexicaniis, 364 

Bridgehampton (L. I.), 6, 13 

Bridgeport (Conn.), 20 

Bridgetown Harbor (Barbados), 147 

Brier Skate, 163, 256 

Brisbane (Australia), 345 

British Admiralty, The, 129 

British Columbia, 250, 259, 271, 292, 306, 

309, 325, 333, 339, 351 
British Guiana, 348 
British Isles, 164, 350, 356 
British Medical Journal, 129 
British Museum (London), 78, 150 
British Shallow Water Diving Unit, 123, 

Broad-Headed Seven-Gill Shark, 293 
Brodeur, John, 18, 121 
Bronze Whaler, 329 
Brooklyn (N. Y.), 5 
Brooklyn Miiseinn Quarterly, 16 
Brown, Capt. J., 131 
Brown Shark, 17, 21, 67, 83, 169, 198, 224, 

296, 324, 325 
Brown Smoothhound, 322 
Brown Whaler, 330 
Bruder, Charles, 3 
Buak, Nick, 46 
Bubble Curtains, 121 
Buenos Aires (Argentina), 358 
Bullhead Shark, 358 
Bull Shark, 330, 339, 363 
Burden, W. Douglas, 124, 178 
Bur. of Marine Fisheries (Cal.), 21, 161, 

Burton, E. M., 27 

Butterfly Ray, 163, 164, 244, 270, 271 
Butterfly Sting Ray, 271 
Buzzard's Bay (Mass.), 54 

Calcutta, 374 

Caldwell, Norman, 338 

California, 21, 22, 45, 54, 162, 170, 182, 

184, 188, 210, 250, 255, 260, 280, 292, 

294, 298, 300, 303, 304, 308, 320, 325, 

338, 348, 357, 358 
Bureau of Marine Fisheries, 21, 161, 

Gulf of, 242, 333 
California Skate, 159, 257 
Callorhinchidae, 289 
Callorhinchus, 217 
Campeche, Gulf of, 347 

Canacao Bay (P. I.), 26 

Canada, 176, 185, 241, 306 

Canadian Dept. of Fisheries, 306 

Canary Islands, 297 

Ca Ong, 139 

Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), 351 

Cape Breton Island, 51 

Cape Cod (Mass.), 95, 270, 296, 300, 304, 

306, 318, 321, 351 
Cape of Good Hope, 293, 309, 312 
Cape Hatteras, 2, 270 
Cape Haze Marine Lab., 37, 44, 230 
Cape Lookout (N. C), 73, 280, 296, 319, 

338, 348 
Cape San Lucas (Lower California), 358 
Cape Town (R.S.A.), 170 
Cape Verde Islands, 130, 297, 321, 327 
Capt. Cook's Sting Ray, 269 
Carboniferous Period, The, 207 
Carcharhinidae, 216, 244, 324 
Carcharhiniis ahenea, 329 
Care bar himis azureus, 325 
Carcharhimis falcifor7fiis, 330 
Carcharhinus fioridamus, 330 
Carcharhimis greyi, 330 
Carcharhimis lamiella, 329 
Carcharlmius leiicas, 29, 330, 339, 363 
Carcharhimis livibatus, 30 
Carcharhimis jftacmnis, 329 
Carcharhiji7is ■fuacidipinnis, 327 
Carcharhinus melanopterus, 162 
Carcharias arenarius, 294, 310, 343 
C arch arias gangeticus, 343 
Carcharias inenisorrah, 345 
Carcharias owstoni, 297 
Carcharias taurus, 21, 221, 224, 225, 295, 

296, 343, 363 
Carcharias tricuspidatus, 297 
Carchariidae, 244, 294 
Carcharinus milberti, 224 
Carcharifius nicaraguensis, 284, 331, 339, 

Carcharinus obscjirus, 21 
Carcharimis zambezensis, 344 
Carcharodon carcharias, 13, 14, 21, 102, 

107, 142, 215, 241, 298, 363 
Carconetta (Small Black-Tipped Shark), 

Caribbean, The, 25, 50, 84, 187, 188, 198, 

272, 280, 329, 338, 339 
Carpet Shark, 82, 244, 310, 312 
Cartan, Rennie, 6 



Cartilage, 222 
Cass, Capt. Johnny, 95 
Cassel, Edward, 46 
Caswell, Capt. W. B., 74 
Catalina Island (Cal.), 23 
Cat Shark, 224, 237, 244, 318 
False, 244, 320 
Spotted, 239 
Cattle-feed, 181 
Cazon, 174 

Central America, 58, 339, 342, 349 
Centrophorus atromarginatus, 194 
Centroscyllium fabricii, 354 
Centroscymnus coelolepis, 354 
Cephaloscyllium laticeps, 320 
Cephaloscyllium uter, 319 
Ceratobatis, 276 
Cetorhinidae, 244, 304 
Cetorhinus maximus, 180, 220, 224, 304, 

Ceylon, 26, 145, 175, 267, 317 
Chagos Archipelago, 176 
Chain Dogfish, 319, 363 
Challenger, H.M.S., 105 
Chao Phya River (Thailand), 284 
Charleston (S. C), 27, 349 
"Charmers" (of sharks), 145 
Cheng, Dr. F. T., 371 
Chesapeake Bay, 211, 256, 270, 271, 286, 

322, 325, 353 
Chicago Nat. Hist. Museum, 210 
Chikuwa, 376 

Childs, Mrs. George W., 3 
Chile, 286, 292, 309 
Chiloscy Ilium punctatum, 239 
Chimaeras, 288, 364 
Chimaeridae, 289 
China, 174, 198, 294, 297, 308, 309, 327, 352, 

Chinese, The, 66, 79, 87, 144, 148, 161, 171, 

174, 184, 187, 191, 338, 371 
Chlamydoselache, 208 
Chlamydoselachidae, 244, 291 
Chu, Mme., 375 
Cladodus, 206, 291 
Cladoselache, 206, 208 
Clams, 273 
Clark, Dr. Eugenie, 37, 40, 44, 200, 230, 

233, 365 
Claspers {mixopterygia), 236, 277, 288 
Clear-Nosed Skate, 256 
Cleveland Shales, 206 

Coast Guard, The, 15, 20; 72, 125, 127 

Coates, Christopher W., 295 

Cockerill, Eric, 19 

Cocktail Shark, 330 

Cod-liver Oil, 183 

Codshark, 350 

Cojimar (Cuba), 187, 188 

Coles, Dr. Russell J., 162, 274, 276, 296, 

338, 348 
Colnot, Mayor G. H., 93 
Colombia, 264 
Columbus, Christopher, 361 
Comm. of Fisheries (France), 78 
Common Dogfish, 210 
Common Hammerhead Shark, 349 
Common Sawfish, 284 
Common Skate, 159, 164, 168, 257, 260 
Common Whaler, 329 
Conan-Doyle, Adrian, 336 
Coney Island (N. Y.), 20 
Congo, 171, 267 
Congress (on sharks), 16 
Coogee Aquarium (Sydney), 154 
Cookery (Recipes), 365 

Fresh Shark Meat, 365 

Rays and Skates, 370 

Salt Shark Meat, 369 

Shark Fin Dish, The, 371 

Shark Fin Soups, 373 

Smoked Shark, 368 
Cook Islands, 141 
Coolidge, Dr. H. J., 124 
Copley, John S., 149 
Copper acetate, 125 
Coppleson, Dr. V. M., 41, 57, 155 
Coprolites (from sharks), 230 
Cornell Univ., 44 
Cornwall, 103, 293, 334 
Coryphaena hippurus, 328 
Costeau, Capt. J. Y., 36, 130 
Cottrell, Capt. T., 7, 13 
Cow-Nosed Ray, 163, 244, 274 
Cow Shark, 293 
Cowtail Ray, 193, 195 
Crawfish, 91 

Crimes (sharks in), 152-158 
Cronin, Larry, 46 
Cropp, Ben, 55 

Cross-breeding (Hybridization), 242 
Crossette, Louis J., 25 
Ctenacantbus,206 [328,330,338 

Cuba. 50. 87. 125, 187, 198, 249, 293, 312, 



Cub Shark, 27, 162, 330, 339 
Curasao (N.W.I.) , 152 
Cyclostomes, 217 
Czechoslovakia, 167 

Daemomanta alfredi, 97 

Dakar (W. Afr.), 244 

Dalatiidae, 244, 353, 354 

Dankalis, 77 

Dasyatidae, 225, 244, 266 

Dasyatis bleekeri, 265 

Dasyatis brevicaudata, 269 

Dasyatis centroura, 266, 269, 270, 364 

Dasyatis dipterurus, 271, 364 

Dasyatis sabina, 159, 269, 270, 364 

Dasyatis sayi, 264, 270 

Dasyatis sephen, 193, 194, 195, 265 

Davies, Dr. David H., 120 

Day, Dr. Francis, 282, 343 

Deal Beach (N. J.), 4 

Dean, Alf, 97 

Dean, Bashford, 288 

Death, White (Great White Shark), 101, 

102, 298 
"Deep Sea Scallop," 160 
Deep Sea Skate, 259 
DelagoaBay (R.S.A.), 31 
de Latil, Pierre, 268 
Delaware Bay, 106, 286, 296 
Delaware River (U.S.A.), 346 
Delaware (state), 322 
Delray Beach (Florida), 40 
Denmark, 168, 176 
Denticles, 196, 223, 224 
Department of Fishery (Kyoto Univ.), 

Depth Charges, 123 
Derwent River (Tasmania), 342 
Devilfish, Small, 163 
Devil Ray, 97, 219, 244, 275-279. See also 

Devil's Island, 146 
Devi River (India), 343 
Devonian Period, The, 205 
Dhows, 170 
Diamond Fish, 278 
Diamond Sting Ray, 270, 364 
Diez, Philip C, 34 
Digestion, 232 
Diplobatis ommata, 251 
Djibouti, 76, 302 

Dogfish (general), 21, 93, 94, 142, 160, 164, 

177, 183, 210, 221, 225, 239, 243 
Dogfish, Black, 354 

Black-Bellied, 353 

Chain, 319, 363 

Common, 210 

Greater Sponed, 166 

Green, 354, 363 

Large Spotted, 319 

Lesser Spotted, 166, 319 

Midwater, 363 

Piked, 166, 177, 225, 350, 353 

Prickly, 353 

Sandy, 166 

Smooth, 21, 124, 162, 224, 228, 244, 321, 

Spineless, 244, 353 

Spiny, 94, 207, 225, 239, 244, 260, 321, 
350, 363 

Spur, 166 
Dogfish Shark, 297 
Dolphin, Bottle-Nosed, 83 
Dolphin-Fish, 233, 328 
Dominguez of Cuba, 87 
Doukan, Dr. G., 37 
Draughtsboard Shark, 320 
Drugs (from sharks), 194 
Drums, Sharkskin, 193, 194 
Duck-billed Rays, 273 
Dumas, Frederick, 130 
Dunn, Joseph, 11 
Durban (R.S.A.), 31, 101, 118, 335 
Dusky Ground Shark, 326 
Dusky Shark, 21, 83, 130, 133, 163, 198, 

296, 326, 363 
Dwarfskate, Gulf, 364 
Dyer, Bob, 129 
Dyer, Mrs. Dolly, 100 
Dyes (as repellants), 32 

Eagle Ray, 163, 244, 272 

East Africa, 58, 175, 358 

East Germany, 167 

East Indies, The, 58, 89, 271, 358 

Eathome, Mrs. Hetty, 104 

Echeneidae, 359 

Echeneis naucrates, 360 

Echinorhinidae, 244, 357 

Echinorhinus, 117 

Echinorhinus brucus, "iSl 

Ecuador, 264, 308, 312, 325 



Eels, 94 

Egg capsules, 237, 251, 254, 256, 258, 260, 

263, 288, 317, 358 
Eggs (of selachians), 78, 167, 237, 356 
Egyptians, The, 247 
Eire, 176 

Eisenhower, Pres. Dwight D., 168 
Elasmobranchii, 217 
Elasmobranchs (general), 208 
Electrical barriers, 120 
Electric Eel, 249 
Electric organs, 248, 254 
Electric Ray, 228, 244, 246, 247-251 
Electrophorus electricus, 249 
Elephant-Fish, 289 
Elephant (killed by sharks), 299 
Elephant Shark, 217, 304 
Ellice Islands, 80, 193 
Ellis, William, 139, 192 
England, 334, 339 
Epicharmus, 177 
Eskimos, 191, 354 
Ethiopia, 76 

Etmopterus hillianus, 353 
Etmopterus virens, 353, 363 
Etruscans, The, 247 
Eulamia (Carcharhinus) , 324 
Eulamia (Carcharhinus) limbatus, 326, 328 
Eulamia (Carcharhinus) milberti, 17, 21, 

324, 363 
Eulamia (Carcharhinus) obscurus, 326, 

Euphrates River (Iraq), 345 
Euprotomicrus laticaudus, 357 
Evans, Dr. H. Muir, 351 
Eyed Skate, 260 
Eyes (of selachians), 228, 263 

False Cat Shark, 244, 320 

Faroe Islands, 356 

"Feeding Frenzy," 30, 44, 125, 128 

Fernadina (Fla.), 69 

Fertilizer, 72, 170, 180, 187, 350 

Fiddler Ray, 279 

Fiji Islands, 80, 145 

Filoramo, Jean, 18 

Fins (sharks), 66, 79, 87, 170, 174, 180, 

187, 338 
Fire Island (L. I.), 14, 316 
Firth of Clyde (Scotland), 181 
Fisher, Stanley, 7 
Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 335 

Fishing (commercial), 64, 81, 93, 355 

Fishing (sport), 96, 101, 301 

"Fish 'n' Chips," 166 

Fitelson, Dr. Jacob, 201 

Fix, Hans, 45 

"Flake" (Dogfish), 166 

Flechsig, Arthur O., 22 

Fleischman, M. J., 127 

Florida, 14, 20, 37, 39, 40, 42, 62, 67, 68, 
83, 124, 126, 176, 185, 186, 198, 230, 
249, 256, 262, 270, 272, 284, 286, 296, 
297, 298, 311, 312, 322, 324, 325, 326, 
328, 330, 331, 334, 353 

Flour (Meal), Fish, 176 

"Flying Tigers," The, 144 

"Folkestone Beef" (Dogfish), 166 

Folly Island (S. C), 27, 29 

Food (sharks as), 72, 78, 79, 159-178, 180, 
187, 191 (see also Cookery) 

Food and Drug Administration, 201 

Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.), 93, 145 

Ft. Weaver (Hawaii), 93 

Fossil Selachians, 206, 210, 291 

Fourchu (N. S.), 51 

Fox, Joseph, 328 

Fox Shark, 308 

France, 167, 195, 198 

Frederick C. Davis, U.S. D-E, 123 

French Guiana, 146 

French Somaliland, 62, 76 

Freuchen, Peter, 355 

Frilled Shark, 208, 244, 291 

Fuel, shark oil as, 193 

Fugger News-Letter, The, (1580 a.d.), 148 

Fuka-hire, 377 

Fulton Fish Market (N.Y.C.), 161 

Gadus morua, 183 

Galeocerdo cuvieri, 5, 21, 38, 107, 116, 216, 

224, 226, 229, 310, 334, 363 
Galeoida, 216 
Galeolamna (Carcharhinus) macrurus, 

Galeorhinus australis, 172, 339 
Galeorhinus zyopterus, 118, 161, 184, 338, 

Caller, Dr. S. R., 44 
Galuchat, 195 
Galveston (Texas), 271 
Galveston Island (Texas), 349 
Gambuso Shark, 325 
Ganges River (India), 343 



Gansbaii (R.S.A.), 170 

Garman, Dr. Samuel, 291 

Gas (poison), 124 

George's River (Australia), 42, 346 

Ghana, 171 

Ghost Shark, 288 

Giant Butterfly Ray, 271 

Giant Alanta Ray, 247 

Gilbert, Dr. P. W., 44, 54, 118, 121, 130, 

Gilbert Islands, 57, 138 
Gimbel, Peter R., 328 
Ginglyinostojna cirratimi, 40, 174, 223, 

231, 235, 236, 310, 363 
Gladstone, S.S., 153 
Goblin Shark, 213,244 
Gods (shark), 137 
Goodman, Herb, 93 
Gorton's of Gloucester, 162 
Graham, David H., 352 
Granada (Nicaragua), 340 
Graybill, Sgt. L. C, 48 
"Grayfish," 160, 163 
"Gray Gold," 184, 339 
Gray (Grey) Nurse Shark, 24, 55, 58, 82, 

133, 294, 296, 310, 343 
Gray Shark, 102, 129, 293 
Gray Smoothhound, 323 
Great Australian Bight, 98 
Great Blue Shark, 95, 104, 139, 169, 332 
Great Britain, 166, 167, 183, 260, 322 
Greater Spotted Dogfish, 166 
Great Hammerhead Shark, 347, 349, 363 
Great River (L. I.), 324 
Great South Bay (L. I.), 17, 324 
Great White Shark, 13, 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, 

36, 43, 51, 56, 97, 101, 103, 107, 132, 

142, 144, 159, 162, 210, 211, 219, 241, 

244, 298-300, 346 
Greeks, The, 25, 51, 137, 176, 191, 247 
Green Dogfish, 354, 363 
Greenland, 191 

Greenland Shark, 191, 219, 241, 354, 363 
Green Sawfish, 282 
Grey, Marion, 354 
Grey, Zane. 80, 96, 300, 330 
Grimble, Sir Arthur, 57 
Ground Shark, 330, 339 
Guadalcanal, 32 
Guam, 162 

Guaragnella, Tano, 183 
Guayaquil River (Ecuador), 125 

Gudger, Dr. E. W., 48, 78, 96, 236, 264, 

Guitarfish, 173, 244, 246, 279, 287, 364 

Atlantic, 364 

Shovel-Nosed, 280, 364 

Southern, 280 

Spotted, 279 
Gulf Dwarf skate, 364 
Gulf of Aden, 76 
Gulf of Arabia, 349 

Gulf of CaHfornia, 242, 272, 280, 312, 333 
Gulf of Campeche, 347 
Gulf of Maine, 191, 297, 300, 303, 306, 356 
Gulf of Mexico, 74, 88, 94, 163, 188, 190, 
198, 242, 256, 270, 284, 286, 322, 325, 
326, 327, 328, 329, 331, 335, 338, 348, 
349, 350, 353 
Gulf of Oman, 173, 345 
Gulf of St. Lawrence, 258, 261, 309 
"Gummie" Shark, 82, 172 
Gurry Shark, 354 
Gyjiimira altavela, 271 
Gymnura marmorata, 271 
Gymmira viicrura, 270, 271, 364 
Gyinniiridae, 244, 271 

Haas, Hans, 279 

Hagfish, 185, 217 

Haile Selassi, 76 

Halifax (N. S.), 301 

Halstead, Dr. Bruce W., 268 

Hamburg-Amerika Steamship Co., 153 

Hamlin, Jon, 39 

Hammerhead Shark, 21, 23, 55, 56, 77, 82, 

85, 93, 102, 133, 163, 170, 174, 198, 219, 

229, 239, 244, 347 
Great, 347, 349, 363 
Haploblephanis edwardsi, 228, 320 
Hardy, Capt. Charles, 23 
Harpooning, 181 
Hart Island, 296 
Hassler, Dr. A. D., 227 
Hastie, Drayton, 27 
Havana (Cuba), 42, 87, 149, 315 
Hawaii, 44, 58, 61, 91, 92, 106, 115, 139, 

172, 191, 303, 348 
Hawaiian Islands, 309, 352, 358 
Hawaii Marineland, 117 
Hawkins, Sir John, 213 
Hearing (sense of), 230 
Hebrides, The, 180, 308 
Hedemann, Lang, 116 



Hedgehog Skate, 257 

Heligoland Biological Institute, 237 

Heller, Dr. John H., 200 

Heloke Mookini, 141 

Hemingway, Ernest, 125, 301 

Henderson, J. B., 48 

Heptranchias dakini, 293 

Heptranchias perlo, 293 

Herald, Earl S., 268 

Heraldry (sharks in), 150 

Herring Shark, 177 

Heterodontidae, 244, 358 

Heterodontus francisi, 358 

Heterodonms japoniciis, 359 

Heterodontus portjacksoni, 209, 225, 239, 

Hexanchidae, 213, 244, 292 
Hexanchiis griseum, 117, 162, 292 
Heyerdahl, Thor, 62, 315 
Hiatt, Dr. R. W., 44 
Hicks, John, 121 
Hides, shark, 180, 199 
Higgins, Leniord, 55 

Highlands (N. J.), 21 

Hildebrand, S. F., 271 

Himeji Univ. of Technology (Japan), 

Hina, 141 

Hobson, Albert, 154 

Hogan, Daniel, 22 

Holland, 167, 195 

Holmes, Reginald W., 156 

H olohalaehinis regani, 228, 320 

Holokahana, M. V., 117 

Honduras, 143 

Honolulu, 34, 61, 64, 84, 115, 141, 173, 337 

Honolulu Star Bulletin, 141 

Hooks (for fishing), 91, 92, 93 

Hopkins Marine Station, 36 

Horned Shark, 349 

Horn Shark, 244, 358, 359 

Hoshizame, 375 

Houot, Lt. Comm. Georges S., 244 

Hsinchu, 174 

Hudson River (N. Y.), 342 

Hull, Cordell, 125 

Human remains in sharks, 2, 23, 67, 103, 
154, 157, 336 

"Huss" (Dogfish), 166 

Hybodonts, 207 

Hybodus, 208 

Hydrolagiis affinus, 364 

Hydrolagus colliei, 364 
Hyenas, 76 
Hypoprjon signatus, 50 

Iceland, 176, 308, 321 

Ichthyodorulites, 207, 351 

Idaho, 210 

He Royale, 146 

lUugason, G. S., 313 

Illustrated London News, 316 

India, 175, 198, 281, 282, 297, 298, 327, 328, 

334, 346, 349 
Indiana, 210 

Indian Medical Gazette, 26 
Indian Ocean, The, 101, 175, 179, 213, 265, 

271, 273, 280, 292, 294, 309, 318, 338, 

342, 350, 357 
Indo-China, 349 
Indonesia, 175 
Ink clouds, 124 
Inouye, Capt. Fred, 117 
Inst, of Marine Science, 230 
International Game Fish Ass., 56, 100, 103, 

107, 302 
International Oceanographic Foundation, 

Iquitos (Peru), 342 
Iran, 173 

Ireland, 167, 181, 293, 308, 309, 358 
Irritants (chemical), 124 
Ishiyama, Prof. Reizo, 254 
Isistius brasiliensis, 357 
Israel, 173 
Isuridae, 244, 298 
Isuropis, 302 

Isurus gl aliens, 101, 107, 300 
hums mako, 302 

Isurus oxyrinchus, 21, 101, 107, 300, 363 
Italians, The, 161 
Italy, 167, 177, 198, 200 

Jack, Herbert, 345 

Jacksonville (Fla.), 125 

Jamaica (W. I.), 147, 152, 312 

Jamaica, Inst, of, 152 

Japan, 89, 129, 143, 174, 175, 197, 198, 212, 
286, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 303, 
308, 309, 321, 344, 347, 352, 357, 358 

Japanese, The, 52, 175, 184, 194, 254, 375 

Japanese Dept. of Fishery, 376 

"Jenny Hanivers," 251 

Johnston, Walter, 67 



Jonah, 53, 142 

Jones Beach (N. Y.), 94 

Joppa, 142 

Jordan, David Starr, 297 

Junker, Bruno, 296 

Jurassic Period, The, 209, 246, 292, 358 

Kabir Lokhom, 11 

Kagawa, Prof. Kenichi, 376 

Kain-Alu (Hawaii), 139 

Kamaboko, 175, 365, 376 

Kamo-hoa-ln, 139 

Kanakas, 62, 139 

Kane Mano, 62 

Kanetetsu Company, 376 

Kansas, 210 

Kapaaheo (the "Shark Stone"), 141 

Kapeta (Maori dogfish), 93 

Karun River (Iran), 344 

Kellerman, Annette, 15 

Kelp, 61 

Kenya Game Dept., 169 

Ketchikan (Alaska), 188 

Keyport (N. J.), 11 

Key West (Fla.), 48, 55, 67, 149 

Khorramshahr (Iran), 345 

Killer Whale, 217 

Kingston (Jamaica, W. I.), 147 

Klauber, Laurence M., 142 

Knight's Key (Fla.), 74, 313 

Kobe (Japan), 376 

Kogler, Albert, 43 

Kohler, Theodore H., 196 

Kojiki, The, 143 

Kon-Tiki, 315 

Korea, 174, 286, 309 

Kyoto Univ., 194, 375 

La Jolla (Cal.), 21, 23, 44, 61, 88 
Lake Constance (Switzerland), 150 
Lake Jamoer (New Guinea), 344 
Lake Managua (Nicaragua), 340 
Lake Nicaragua, 147, 284, 339-342 
Lake Nicaragua Shark, 132, 284, 331, 339- 

Lake of the Tale Sap (Thailand), 342 
Lake Ponchartrain (Louisiana), 270 
Lake Sentani (New Guinea), 344 
Lake Shark, 339 
Lake Yzabal (Guatemala), 339 
Lamna cornubica, 177 

Lamna ditropis, 303, 363 

Lanina nasits, 107, 167, 303, 304, 363 

Lamprey, 185, 217, 306 

Lancashire (England), 167 

Lanikai (Hawaii), 115 

Lantern Shark, 353 

Laplante, Rev. A. J., 145 

La Plata Island (Ecuador), 125 

Large Black-Tipped Shark, 327 

Large Spotted Dogfish, 319 

Large Sting Ray, 163 

Largetooth Sawfish, 364 

Laroitsse Gastronojuique, 159 

Lateral line system, 231 

Latin America, 174 

Lawrence, R. C, 93 

Lawton, Douglas, 39 

Layton, Kenneth, 29 

Leather, Shark, 180, 187, 196 

Leeds (England), 167 

Lee, Kendall H., 19 

Lefferts, Jacob, 11 

Lehrer, Tom, 23 

Lemon Shark, 130, 132, 229, 233, 331, 332 

Leonidas, 25 

Leopard Shark, 42, 323, 334, 363 

Lerner Marine Lab., 121, 130, 229, 282 

Lerner, Michael, 56, 130 

Lesser Butterfly Ray, 276 

Lesser Devil Ray, 276 

Lesser Electric Ray, 364 

Lesser Spotted Dogfish, 166, 319 

Lettunich, Tessie, 46 

Limbaugh, Conrad, 315 

Limpopo River (Mozambique), 58, 344 

Lindenhurst (L. L), 324 

Line fishing (commercial), 172, 186, 190, 

Links, The, 244, 279 
Little Minch (Scotland), 305 
Little Skate, 257, 364 
Liver-oil (shark), 66, 72, 118, 171, 173, 

175, 180, 181, 182, 187, 198, 200, 351, 

Llano, Dr. G. A., 32, 34, 127 
Lobsters, Spiny, 91 
Lockner, Dr. j. P., 120 
London (England), 167 
Long Beach (Cal.), 160 
Long Beach (L. I.), 127 
Long Island (N. ¥.), 6, 13, 14, 15, 17, 20, 

21, 94, 258, 286, 296, 318, 321, 347, 350 



Long-Nosed Skate, 260 

Looe (England), 103, 334 

Lorenz, Bob, 95 

Lorenzini's ampullae, 232 

Los Angeles (Cal.), 358 

Louisiana, 262, 270, 322 

Lower Bay (N. J.), 6 

Lower California, 96, 273, 315, 317, 327, 

Lucas, Dr. F. A., 5, 14, 16 
Luminescence, 353 
Luminous Shark, 357 
Luxemburg, 167 
Lynceus of Rhodes, 177 

Mackerel Shark, 159, 169, 177, 198, 244, 

298, 303, 304, 335 
Macquarie Island, 243, 356 
Madagascar, 76, 79, 327 
Madeira, 327 
Madras, 175 
Magic, 91 
Mahala, Frank, 39 
Mail by shark, 152 

Maine, Gulf of, 191, 297, 300, 303, 306, 356 
Mako, 80, 89 
Mako Shark, 21, 80, 89, 94, 100, 103, 104, 

107, 132, 160, 244, 298, 300, 363 
Malaya, 175 
Malays, The, 267 
Malibu (Cal.), 23 
Malindi (E. Afr.), 169 
Manasquan (N. J.), 19, 321 
Man-Eating Shark (Gt. White), 298 
Mangalore (India), 313 
Mano, 80 
Manta birostris, 247, 275, 278, 364 

Manta Ray, 77, 162, 169, 247, 275-279, 331, 
361, 364 
Atlantic, 364 

Maoris, The, 80, 89, 92, 101, 193 

Marbled Shark, 320 

Margate (R.S.A.), 123 

Marine Lab., Sandy Hook, 21 

Marineland Research Lab., 44, 83 

Marine Studios (Fla.), 124 

Marlboro (N. Y.), 342 

Marlin, Black, 107 

Marshall Islands, The, 144 

Maryland, 210, 271, 349 

Massachusetts, 54, 70, 124, 326, 328, 351, 

Massachusetts Bay, 300 
Matawan (N. J.), 6 
Mathews, Capt. J. B., 96 
Matthews, Dr. L. Harrison, 305 
Mauritius, 171 

Mayo, County (Ireland), 181 
Mayport, (Fla.), 30, 327 
Maxwell, Gavin, 180, 220 
McCutcheon, Wallace, 346 
McDonald, Grace, 68 
Meal (shark), 176, 180, 182 
Meat (shark), 72, 79, 159-178. See also 

Food, Cookery. 
Mediterranean, The, 58, 249, 271, 276, 284, 
286, 292, 294, 297, 299, 303, 304, 309, 
319, 322, 324, 326, 343, 348, 356, 358 
Meggison, Emma, 27 
Melbourne (Australia), 171 

Menhaden ("Pogies"), 70, 73, 188, 296, 

"Mermaid" shark, 150 

"Mermaids' purses," 251 

Meshing, 118 

Mexico, 174, 184, 197, 198, 286, 329 
Gulf of, 74, 88, 94, 163, 188, 190, 
198, 242, 256, 270, 284, 286, 322, 325, 
326, 327, 328, 329, 331, 335, 338, 348, 
349, 350, 353 

Miami Beach (Fla.), 311 

Miami (Fla.), 63, 74 

Miami, Univ. of, 193, 230, 310 

Micronesia, 89 

Midwater Dogfish, 363 

Migrations (of fish), 48, 53 

Milkshark, 102 

Miller, C. W., 68 

Miller, Doug, 58 

Miller's Dog Shark, 339 

Miocene Period, The, 210, 211 

Mississippi, 262 

Mississippi River, 270, 331 

Mixopterygia, 236, 277 

Mobula, 162, 276, 331 

Mobula diabola, 278 

Mobula hypostoma, 276 

Mobula japanica, 278 

Mobula mobular, 278 

Mobulidae, 244, 275 

"Moby Dick," 218 

Molokai Island, 34 



Monkfish (Angelfish), 191, 285 

Montauk (L. I.), 100 

Monterey (Cal.), 22, 95, 182, 188, 271, 

305, 308, 333 
Moore, Dr. H. B., 193 
Morehead City (N. C), 71 
Morrin, Beryl, 346 
Morro Bay (Cal.), 22, 358 
Morro Castle (Havana), 87 
Motu-Tapu (sacred isle), 141 
Mozambique, 361 
Mud Shark, 293 

Muldoans (Basking Sharks), 181 
Mulsonn, John, 8 
Mundus, Frank, 101 
Murphy, R. C, 5, 16, 220, 333 
Museum Comp. Zool. Harvard (Mass.), 

Mus. National D'Histoire Naturelle 

(Paris), 313 
Mussolini, Benito, 167 
Mustelus antarcticus, 172 
Mustelus asterias, "ill 
Mustelus calif ornicus, 323 
Mustelus cams, 21, 124, 221, 224, 228, 321, 

Mustelus lunulatus, 323 
Mustelus manazo, 238, 375 
Mustelus mustelus, 322 
Mustelus norisi, 'ill 
Mutuk, 142 
Myliobatidae, 244, 272 
Myliobatis califormcus, 171, 364 
Myliobatis freminvilli. 111 
Myxine, 185 

Nagasaki (Japan), 377 

Nanakuli (Hawaii), 337 

Nanaue, 139 

Nancy, U.S. brig, 152 

Nantucket (Mass.), 70, 328 

Narcine brasiliensis, 364 

Narcotics (Narke), 247 

Narrow-Headed Seven-Gill Shark, 293 

N.A.S.A., 121 

Nassau (Bahamas), 123, 129 

Nat. Physical Res. Lab. (R.S.A.), 120 

Naucrates ductor, 361 

Neal, James C, 56 

Negaprion brevirostris, 229, 233, 331, 332 

Net de Tuahine (Sting-Ray Goddess), 

Netting sharks, 73, 82, 118, 171, 181, 184 
Neville, John, 84 
Newark (N. J.), 67, 197 
New Brunswick (Canada), 335, 346 
New Brunswick (N. J.), 11 
New Castle (Dela.), 346 
New England, 53, 261, 271, 275, 279, 286, 

296, 303, 306, 321, 324, 325, 327 
New England Inst, of Med. Res., 200 
Newfoundland, 94, 260, 261, 300, 303, 304, 

306, 351 
New Guinea, 52, 91, 344 
New Haven (Conn.), 54 
New Jersey, 1, 15, 16, 18, 20, 25, 42, 127, 

210, 256, 269, 270, 276, 304, 319, 321, 

331, 349 
New Mexico, 210 
Newnham, Dr. C. T., 104 
New Orleans, 43 
New South Wales, 24, 240, 302 
New York, 6, 15, 17, 18, 20, 210, 256, 261, 

284, 321, 325, 327, 331, 342, 349, 374 
New York City Aquarium, 295 
New York Ground Shark, 324 
N. Y. Humane Society, 76 
N. Y. Times, 5, 15, 148, 154 
N. Y. World's Fair (1939), 76 
N. Y. Zoological Society, 17 
New Zealand, 80, 89, 92, 172, 193, 211, 240, 

250, 294, 302, 303, 308, 309, 329, 352, 

Nezumizame, 376 
Nichols, John Treadwell, 5, 14, 16, 220, 

Nictitating membrane, 228, 229 
Night Shark, 50 
Nile, The River, 252 
Nohi-Abassi, 137 
Noosing sharks, 90 
Norrie, Sir Willoughby, 98 
Norsemen, The, 142 
North Bondi (Australia), 28 
North Carolina, 67, 249, 258, 260, 261, 264, 

267, 272, 274, 276, 280, 296, 319, 322, 

327, 331, 338, 348 
North Sea, The, 169, 177, 304, 356, 358 
Norway, 142, 166, 167, 168, 176, 182, 198, 

291, 308, 356, 
Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, 356 
Norwegians, The, 356 



Notorynchiis cepedianus, 193 
NotoryncJnis viaciilatum, 293 
Nova Scotia, 21, 51, 53, 249, 258, 261, 300, 

309, 336 
"Numbfish," 247 
"Nursehound," 166 
Nurseries, Shark, 18 
Nurse Shark, 39, 40, 42, 131, 162, 174, 198, 

223, 231, 235, 236, 244, 310, 363 
Atlantic, 310 
Blue, 297 

Oahu (Hawaii), 117 

''Obeah;' 84 

Ocean City (N. J.), 20 

Ocean Grove (N. J.), 5 

Ocean Leather Company, 67, 71, 76, 196 

O'Connor, P. Fitzgerald, 181, 305 

Oelrichs, Herman, 2, 17 

Office of Naval Research, 44, 121, 129 

Ohio, 206 

Oil from sharks, 170, 173, 175, 180, 181, 

182, 184, 187, 191, 193, 194, 198, 350, 

Oil Shark, 338 
Olaus Magnus, 142, 282 
Olson, John, 153 
Oman, Gulf of, 173, 345 
One-Finned Shark, 293 
O'Neill, Shirley, 43 
Orchard Beach (N. Y.), 20 
Orectolobidae, 244, 320 
Orectolobiis ?nacidatiis, 311, 312 
Oregon, 190, 272, 323 
Orme, Dr. W. B., 42 
Ort, Alexander, 1 
Oshiba, Prof. Mamoru, 375 
Otohaa. 191 

Ouse, River (Bedford, England), 255 
Ox Ray, 278 
Oxynotus bnmiensis, 353 
Oyster Bay (L. I.), 15 
Oyster Crusher Shark, 358 
Oysters, 52, 272 

Pacific Grove (Cal.), 34, 36, 43 

Pacific Horned Shark, 358 

Pacific Ocean, The, 32. 58, 79, 101, 162, 
171, 189, 211, 250, 271, 273, 280, 293, 
309, 318, 325, 327, 329, 330, 336, 350, 
356, 357 

Pacific Sharp-Nosed Shark, 342 

Padre Island (Texas), 45 
Palm Beach (Fla.), 93 
Palmer, Dr. Arthur, 155 
Pamperin, Robert, 22 
Panama, 220, 272, 281, 312 
Panama City (Fla.), 56, 74 
Papua, 91, 142, 344 
Paraguay, 266, 342 
Parasites (of selachians), 279 
Parintins (Brazil), 284 
Parker, Dr. George, 228 
Parker, Dr. H. W., 305 
Parramatta River (Australia), 51 
Pascagoula River (Miss.), 342 
Patalung River (Thailand), 342 
Pawley's Island (S. C), 29 
Pearl divers, 52, 145 
Pearl Harbor, 63, 139, 184 
Pearl Ray, 194 
Pennant, Thomas, 147 
Penny Dog Shark, 339 

Pensacola (Fla.), 331, 336 

Pens (shark), 140 

Perak River (Malaya), 342 

Permian Period, The, 207 

Pernambuco (Recife, Brazil), 153 

Perry, Comm. Matthew C, 149 

Persian Gulf, The, 58, 95, 173, 339, 345 

Peru, 17, 286, 308, 327 

"Petrified pups," 199 

Fetroviyzon ?narinus, 306 

Petronius, 177 

Philippines, The, 33, 58, 173, 275, 287, 315, 
317, 334, 347, 357 

Pig Shark, 358 

Piked Dogfish, 166, 177, 225, 350, 353 

Pilot Fish, 279, 359, 361 

Pindimar (Australia), 80 

Placida, (Fla.), 44 

Plato, 178 

Pleuracanthus, 208 

Pliny, 191, 266, 268, 359 

Pliotrema, 213, 287 

Fliotrema warreni, 287 

"Plowfish," 281 

Plymouth Aquarium (England), 250 

Point Cloates Whaling Station (W. Aus- 
tralia), 129 

Pointer, White, (Great White), 24, 101, 

Point Pleasant (N. J.), 4, 19 

Poisonous sharks, 162, 355 



Poli, Francois, 147 
Polynesia, 80, 89 
Pontippidan, Bishop Erik, 142 
Porbeagle, 100, 103, 107, 132, 150, 167, 303, 

Porgies, 309 

"Porpoises" (Dolphins), 83, 84 
Port Aransas (Texas), 276, 300 
Porter, Norman, 18 
Port Isabel (Texas), 317 
Port Jackson Shark, 82, 83, 209, 225, 239, 

Portland (Maine), 300 
"Port Royal Jack," 147 
Port Royal (Jamaica, W. I.), 152 
Port Said (Egypt), 42 
Port Stevens (Australia), 119 
Portugal, 291, 293, 298, 320, 350 
Portuguese Shark, 354 
Potamotrygonidae, 244, 264 
Pota?}iotrygon motoro, 265 
Potions (from selachians), 191, 200 
Poughkeepsie (N. Y.), 342 
"Powerheads" (guns), 56 
Pratt Institute, 196 
Presto Dvechem Co., 127 
Pretoria '(R.S.A.), 120 
Prickly Dogfish, 353 
Prickly Skate, 259 
Prionace glauca, 104, 107, 139, 189, 332, 

363, 376 
Prior, William, 155 
Pristidae, 244, 281 
Pristiophoridae, 244, 286 
Pristiophorus nudipinnis, 287 
Pristiophorus schroederi, 363 
Prist is clavata, 281 
Pristis ciispidatus, 284 
Pristis leichardti, 285 
Pristis micro don, 284 
Pristis pectinatus, 174, 282, 284, 364 
Pristis perotteti, 284, 364 
Pristis zijsron, 282 
Prist oidea, 225 
Profaci, Joseph, 202 
Provincetown (Mass.), 186, 249, 300, 304, 

Psetidotriakidae, 244, 320 
Psendotriakis acrages, 321 
Pseudotriakis ?mcrodon, 320 
Pterolamiops (Carcharhinus) longimanus, 
328, 363 

Puerto Rico, 328, 330 

Puget Sound, 184 

Putumayo River (South America), 264 

Puumano Hill (Hawaii), 139 

Queen Shark, The Hawaiian, 140 
Queensland (Australia), 24 
Quito (Ecuador), 125 

Raja abyssicola, 259 

Raja asterias, 253 

Raja bathyphila, 258 

Raja batis, 159, 164, 168, 253, 260 

Raja binocidata, 254, 260, 364 

Raja clavata, 164, 168 

Raja e giant eria, 256 

Raja erinacea, 257, 364 

"Rajafish," 160 

Raja hyperborea, 243 

Raja inornata, 159, 257 

Raja laevis, 159, 259, 260, 364 

Raja ocellata, 260 

Raja rhina, 260 

Raja stelhdata, 259 

Rajidae, 244, 251, 255 

Rapson, A. M., 91 

Raritan Bay (N. J.), 6, 14 

Ras Tafari, 76 

Ratfish, 288, 364 

Rathjen, Warren, 310 

Rat-Tailed Ray, 270 

Ray (general), 38, 69, 78, 93, 142, 159, 163, 

' 164, 167, 175, 191, 193, 210, 217, 225, 
228, 241, 244, 246, 262, 266, 364 
Ray, Bat, 272 

Bat Sting, 272, 364 

Blind Torpedo, 250 

Butterfly, 163, 164, 244, 270, 271 

California Round Sting, 268, 271 

Capt. Cook's Sting, 269 

Cow-Nosed, 163, 244, 274 

Cowtail, 193, 195 

Devil, 97, 219, 244, 275-279 

Eagle, 163. 244, 272 

Electric, 228, 244, 246, 247-251 

Fiddler, 279 

Giant Butterfly, 271 

Giant Manta, 247 

Large Sting, 163 

Lesser Butterfly, 270, 271 

Lesser Devil, 276 

Lesser Electric, 364 



Ray (Cont.) 

Manta, 77, 162, 169, 247, 275-279, 331, 
361, 364 

Ox, 278 

Pearl, 194 

Rat-Tailed, 270 

River, 244, 264 

Rough Sting, 364 

Round Sting, 244, 271 

Small Electric, 163 

Smaller Devil, 278 

Smooth Butterfly, 364 

South American Freshwater, 265 

Spiny Butterfly, 364 

Spotted Duckbill, 244, 267, 273, 274 

Spotted Eagle, 274, 364 

Spotted Sting, 163 

Spotted Whip, 274 

Sting, 21, 78, 93, 143, 159, 191, 211, 225, 
226, 244, 264, 266-272 

Torpedo, 78, 191, 249 

Whip, 244, 266 
Recife (Brazil), 153 
Recipes (Cookery), 365 

Fresh Shark Meat, 365 

Rays & Skates, 370 

Salt Shark Meat, 369 

Shark Fin Dish, The, 371 

Shark Fin Soups, 373 

Smoked Shark, 368 
Records (angling), 108-114 
Redondo Beach (Cal.), 279 [327 

Red Sea, The, 76, 147, 220, 271, 273, 302, 
Reiffel, Howard B., 127 
Religion, 91, 92, 137 
Remora, 340, 359 
Remora brachyptera, 361 
Remora remora, 361 

Repellents, shark, 30, 32, 88, 123, 128, 131 
Reproduction, 236, 253, 277, 288, 306, 310, 
317, 324, 334, 338, 348, 352, 353, 356, 
Requiem Shark, 324, 330 
Respiration (breathing), 235 
Rewards (offered), 2, 17 
Rhincodontidae, 312 
Rh'mcodon typiis, 218, 304, 312, 363 
Rhinobatidae, 244, 255 
Rhinobatos, 174 

Rhinobatos lentiginosus, 279, 364 
Rhinobatos percellens, 280 
Rhinobatos productus, 280, 364 

Rhino chimaeridae, 289 

Rhinoptera bonasus, 264, 274 

Rhinoptera brasiliensis, 275 

Rhinoptera javanica, ITS 

Rhinopteridae, 244, 274 

Rhode Island, 14 

Rhynchobatus djiddensis, 280 

Richardson, Charles D., 46 

"Riding" sharks, 76, 93 

Rig (shark), 339 

Ripley, William Ellis, 161, 255 

Risoli, T. J., 161 

Riverhead (L. I.), 347 

River Ray, 244, 264 

River Seine, 356 

River Shark, 339, 344 

Roadtown (Tortola), 84 

Robinson, Capt. J. C, 316 

"Rockfish," 165 

Rock Harbor (Fla.), 310 

Roedel, Phil M., 255 

Rogers, Dr. Allen, 196 

"Rogue sharks," 41, 42, 84 

Rokea, The, 57 

Roman, Michael, 19 

Romans, The, 176, 191, 247 

Roosevelt, Pres. F. D., 124 

Roosevelt, Pres. Theodore, 162 

Rose, Billy, 76 

Roughley, T. C, 330 

Roughtail Sting Ray, 364 

Round Sting Ray, 244, 271 

Royal Air Force, The (British), 129 

Russia, 120 

Sacrifice (human to shark), 137 

Saghari (Sagri), 194 

Sailfish Shark, 304 

St. Andrews (N. B.), 335 

St. Augustine (Fla.), 44, 125 

St. Croix River (Maine), 346 

St. John River (Fla.), 270, 284 

St. John's (Newfoundland), 94 

St. Lawrence Seaway, The, 346 

St. Petersburg (Fla.), 96 

Saipan, 162 

Salerno (Fla.), 126, 186 

Salmon Shark, 363 

Samoa, 79, 144 

Sandbar Shark, 21, 83, 163, 324, 363 

San Diego, 352, 358 

San Diego Bay, 329 



Sand Shark, 21, 106, 117, 133, 198, 224, 

225, 244, 294, 295, 343, 363 
Sand Skate (Butterfly Ray), 163 
Sand Tiger Shark, 221, 224 
Sandv Dogfish, 166 
Sandy Hook (N. J.), 7 
San Francisco (Cal.), 22, 43, 95, 148, 183, 

184, 294 
Sanibel Island (Fla.), 39 
San Juan (P. R.), 68, 336 
San Juan River (Nicaragua), 339, 341 
San Luis Obispo (Cal.), 22 
San Pedro (Cal.), 127 
Santa Barbara (Cal.), 161, 358 
Santa Cruz (Cal.) , 46 
Santa Monica (Cal.), 95 
Sarasota (Fla.), 38, 230 
Savannah (Ga.), 48 
Savino, Peter, 22 

Sawfish, 21, 78, 103, 171, 174, 225, 244, 
246, 279, 281, 284, 340, 364 

Green, 282 

Largetooth, 364 

Smalltooth, 364 

Southern, 284 
Saw Shark, 213, 244, 279, 286, 287, 363 
Scales, 223 

Scapanorhynchidae, 244, 297 
Scapanorhynchiis, 213 
Scent, 350 

Schauffler, Col. W. G., 4 
Scherer, King, 40 
Schillerlocken, 168 
Schleisser, Michael, 14 
School Shark, 172, 339 
Schuetz, Capt. Ernie, 70 
Schultz, Dr. L. P., 44, 45, 47, 50, 54 
Scoliodon longurio, 342 
Scoliodon terrae-novae, 342 
Scoliodon ivalbeehmi, 102, 342 
Scotland, 167, 180, 249, 308, 334 
Scripps Inst, of Oceanography, 22, 44, 315 
SCUBA (Skin) divers, 22, 35, 40, 43, 45, 

54, 56, 129 
Scyliorhinidae, 244, 318 
Scyliorhimis boa, 224 
Scyliorhimis cantcidus, 237, 319 
Scyliorhhms retifer, 319, 363 
Scyliorhimis stellar is, 319 
Scyllitnn canicjda, 166 
Scylliwn caudiis, 166 
Sea-cucumbers, 130 

"Sea Eagles," 252 

Sea Fox, 308 

Sea Girt (N. J.), 18, 121 

"Sea Hawks," 252 

Seaholme (Australia), 55 

"Sea Otters," The, 35 

Seaquarium, The (Miami), 278, 331 

"Sea-Women" (Japanese), 52 

Selachians (Selachii), 217, 241, 288 

Seven-Gilled Shark, 193, 244, 292, 293 

Seven-Gill Shark, Broad-Headed, 293 

Narrow-Headed, 293 
Seychelles Islands, 175, 179, 267 
Shagreen (sharkskin), 194, 223 
Shakespeare, 164 
Shands, Mary Ann, 327 
"Shanghai Bill," 147 
Shark, Alligator, 357 

Angel, 82, 244, 279, 285, 287, 363 

Atlantic Nurse, 310 

Australian Grey Nurse, 42 

Banjo, 279 

Basking, 95, 134, 180, 200, 219, 220, 224, 
244, 304, 363 

Bay, 329 

Big-Eyed Thresher, 310 

Black-Spotted, 320 

Blacktip, 198, 326 

Black-Tipped Sand, 162, 163 

Blue, 100, 103, 107, 189, 303, 334, 363 

Blue Pointer, 55, 82, 102, 302 

Bone, 304 

Bonito, 169 

Bonnet, 348 

Bonnethead, 363 

Bonnet-Nosed, 163, 348 

Bramble, 117, 244, 357 

Broad-Headed Seven-Gill, 293 

Brown, 17, 21, 67, 83, 169, 198, 224, 296, 
324, 325 

Brown Smoothhound, 322 

Bull, 330, 339, 363 

Bullhead, 358 

Carpet, 82, 244, 310, 312 

Cat, 224, 237, 244, 318 

Cocktail, 330 

Common Hammerhead, 349 

Cub, 27, 162, 330, 339 

Dogfish, 297 

Draughtsboard, 320 

Dusky, 21, 83, 130, 133, 163, 198, 296, 
326, 363 



Shark (Com.) 

Dusky Ground, 326 

Elephant, 217, 304 

False Cat, 244, 320 

Fox, 308 

Frilled, 208, 244, 291 

Gambuso, 325 

Ganges River, 133, 343 

Ghost, 288 

Goblin, 213, 297 

Gray, 102, 129, 293 

Gray (Grey) Nurse, 24, 55, 58, 82, 133, 

294, 296, 310, 343 
Gray Smoothhound, 323 
Great Blue, 95, 104, 139, 169, 332 
Great Hammerhead, 347, 349, 363 
Great White, 13, 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, 36, 

43, 51, 56, 97, 101, 103, 107, 132, 142, 

144, 159, 162, 210, 211, 219, 241, 244, 

298-300, 346 
Greenland, 191, 219, 241, 354, 363 
Ground, 330, 339 
"Gummie," 82, 172 
Gurry, 354 
Hammerhead, 21, 23, 55, 56, 77, 82, 85, 

93, 102, 133, 163, 170, 174, 198, 219, 

229, 239, 244, 347 
Herring, 177 
Horn, 244, 358, 359 
Homed, 349 
Lake, 339 

Lake Nicaragua, 132, 284, 331, 339, 340 
Lantern, 353 

Large Black-Tipped, 327 
Lemon, 130, 132, 229, 233, 331, 332 
Leopard, 42, 323, 334, 363 
Luminous, 357 
Mackerel, 159, 169, 177, 198, 244, 298, 

303, 304, 335 
Mako, 21, 80, 89, 94, 100, 103, 104, 107, 

132, 160, 244, 298, 300, 363 
Man-Eating (Great White), 298 
Marbled, 320 
Miller's Dog, 339 
Mud, 293 

Narrow-Headed Seven-Gill, 293 
New York Ground, 324 
Night, 50 
Nurse, 39, 40, 42, 131, 162, 174, 198, 223, 

231, 235, 236, 244, 310, 363 
Oil, 338 

One-Finned, 293 
Oyster Crusher, 358 

Shark (Cont.) 

Pacific Horned, 358 

Pacific Sharp-Nosed, 342 

Penny Dog, 339 

Pig, 358 

Porbeagle, 100, 103, 107, 132, 150, 167, 

303, 363 
Port Jackson, 82, 83, 209, 225, 239, 358 
Portuguese, 354 
Requiem, 324, 330 
Rig, 339 
River, 339, 344 
Sailfish, 304 
Salmon, 363 
Sand, 21, 106, 117, 133, 198, 224, 225, 

244, 294, 295, 343, 363 
Sandbar (Brown), 21, 83, 163, 324, 363 
Sand Tiger, 221, 224 
Saw, 213, 244, 279, 286, 287, 363 
School (Sharpie), 172, 339 
Seven-Gilled, 193, 244, 292, 293 
Sharp-Nosed, 163, 342 
Sharp-Nosed Mackerel (Mako), 302 
Shovelhead, 348 

Shovel-Nose, 82, 293, 297, 326, 348 
Sicklefin Smoothhound, 322 
Silky, 330 

Six-Gilled, 117, 162, 244, 292, 293, 363 
Skaamoong, 228, 320 
Sleeper, 354, 356 
Small Black-Tipped, 30, 102, 326 
Soupfin, 118, 160, 161, 170, 184, 186, 

188, 338, 363 
Spanish, 297 
Spinous, 357 
Spiny, 357 
Spot-Fin, 326 
Spotted Cat, 239 
Swell, 319 
Thresher, 21, 103, 107, 161, 169, 174, 

177, 219, 224, 244, 308, 363, 376 
Tiger, 5, 21, 37, 38, 48, 50, 53, 55, 66, 

69, 77, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 88, 94, 97, 

100, 103, 107, 116, 117, 122, 129, 

132, 154, 180, 198, 216, 224, 226, 229, 

233, 334, 363 
Tintoreros, 341 
Tope, 339 
Visitante, 341 
Whale, 64, 95, 139, 218, 219, 228, 244, 

304, 312, 363 
Whaler, 55, 82, 329 
Whip-Tailed, 308 



Shark (Cont.) 

White (Great White), 132, 298, 363 
White Pointer, 24, 101, 298 
White-Tipped, 133, 169, 328, 363 
Wobbegong, 43, 82, 83, 311, 312 
Zebra, 312 

Shark Angling Club of G. B., 103 

"Shark Attack File," The, 44 

"Shark-callers," 179 

"Shark Chaser," 126, 129 

Shark Chaser Chemical Co., 127 

"Shark Danger" (U.S. Navy rating), 132, 

Shark (Etymology of), 213 

Shark Fin Soup, 174, 373 

Shark Industries, Inc., 185 

"Shark-Kissing," 145 

Shark Research Panel, The (SRP), 44, 
45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53, 54, 58, 118, 121, 
129, 130, 344 

Sharkskin, 63, 67. See also Leather 

Sharks, sizes of common species, 363 

"Shark Stone," The (Hawaii), 141 

Sharktooth Hill, 210, 214 

"Shark Years," 17, 22, 23 

Sharp-Nosed Mackerel Shark (Mako), 

Sharp-Nosed Shark, 342 

Sharp-Nosed Skate, 260 

Shaw, Robert, 35 

Shetland Island (Scotland), 164 

Shiah Mohammedans, 173 

Shimizu, Prof. Wataru, 194, 375 

Ships named Shark, 149 

Shovelhead Shark, 348 

Shovel-Nosed Guitarfish, 280, 364 

Shovel-Nose Shark, 82, 293, 297, 326, 348 

Shroeder, Dr. W. C, 51 

"Shy-Eye" (Skaamoong), 228, 320 

Sicklefin Smoothhound Shark, 322 

Siesta Key (Fla.), 37, 39 

Silky Shark, 330 

Silurian Period, The, 206 

Silver Bay, The, 347 

Six-Gilled Shark, 117, 162, 244, 292, 293, 

Sizes of common selacian species, 363, 364 

Skaamoong Shark, 228, 320 

Skagerrak Strait, 177 

Skate (general), 69, 143, 159, 160, 163, 164, 
167, 168, 174, 191, 210, 217, 241, 244, 
246, 251, 254, 257, 259 

Skate, Abyssal, 258, 259 

Skate (Cont.) 

Arctic, 243 

Barndoor, 159, 163, 259, 260, 364 

Big, 260, 364 

Brier, 163, 256 

California, 159, 257 

Clear-Nosed, 256 

Common, 159, 164, 168, 257, 260 

Deep Sea, 259 

Dwarfskate, Gulf, 364 

Eyed, 260 

Hedgehog, 257 

Little, 257, 364 

Long-Nosed, 260 

Prickly, 259 

Sharp-Nosed, 260 

Starry, 259 

Summer, 256 

Texas, 261 

Thornback, 164, 168 

Tobacco Box, 257 

Winter, 260 
Skinning sharks, 71, 199 
Skittle-dog, 350, 353 
Slaughter, Scott, 55 
Sleep (among selachians), 222 
Sleeper Shark, 241, 354, 356 
Sloane, Eric, 193 

Small Black-Tipped Shark, 30, 102, 326 
Small Devilfish, 163 
Small Electric Ray, 163 
Smaller Devil Ray, 278 
"Small-Toothed Nurse Shark," 321 
Smalltooth Sawfish, 364 
Smell, sense of, 227 
Smith, Arthur, 10 
Smith, Capt. John, 266 
Smith, Dr. Andrew, 312 
Smith, Dr. J. L. B., 294, 296 
Smith, Hugh M., 6, 21, 265 
Smith, James, 155 
Smith, John, 85 
Smithsonian Institution, 44 
Smith, The J. Howard, Co., 188 
Smooth Butterfly Ray, 364 
Smooth Dogfish, 21, 124, 162, 224, 228, 244, 

321, 363 
Smoothhound, 322 
Smoothhound Shark, Brown, 322 

Grey, 322 

Sicklefin, 322 
"Snapper" (Mako), 302 
Snaring sharks, 89 



Snodgrass, Dr. J., 44 

Soay Island (Scotland), 180 

Society Islands, 139, 192 

Socrates, 247 

Soden, Richard, 346 

Solomon Islands, 80, 137 

Somalis, 77 

Somniosus antarcticus, 244, 356 

Somniosus microcephalus, 191, 241, 354, 

So?nniosus pacificus, 3 56 
Somniosus rostratus, 356 
Soupfin Shark, 118, 160, 161, 170, 184, 186, 

188, 338, 363 
Soup, Shark Fin, 174, 373 
S. African Ass. for Marine Biol. Res., 120 
S. African Navy, 123 
South Africa, Republic of, 21, 31, 58, 101, 

118, 120, 123, 129, 170, 190, 271, 286, 

287, 294, 296, 297, 302, 303, 304, 312, 

320, 326, 328, 329, 344, 350, 353, 358 
South Amboy (N. J.), 14 

South America, 58, 243, 249, 342 

South Australian Whaler, 330 

South Carolina, 27, 29, 210, 304, 349 

Southeast Asia, 58 

Southern Cahfornia, 304, 323, 351 

Southern Guitarfish, 280 

Southern Sawfish, 284 

Spain, 176, 213, 326 

Spanish Shark, 297 

Sparrow, H.M.S., 152 

Spear-fishing, 55, 95, 330 

Sphyrna diplana, 21, 229, 348 

Sphyma mokarran, 363 

Sphyrna tiburo, 348, 363 

Sphyrna tudes, 347, 349 

Sphyrna zygaena, 21, 85, 215, 349 

Sphyrnidae, 239, 244, 347 

Spineless Dogfish, 244, 353, 354 

Spines, 225, 246,264, 350, 351 

Spinous Shark, 357 

Spiny Butterfly Ray, 364 

Spiny Dogfish, 94, 207, 225, 239, 244, 260, 

321, 350, 363 
Spiny Lobster, 91 
Spiny Shark, 357 
Spiracles, 235 
Spiral Valve, 233 
Spookfish, 288 
Spot-Fin Shark, 326 
Spotted Cat Shark, 239 

Spotted Duckbill Ray, 244, 267, 273, 274 

Spotted Eagle Ray, 274, 364 

Spotted Guitarfish, 279 

Spotted Sting Ray, 163 

Spotted Whip Ray, 274 

Springeria folirostris, 255 

Springer, Stewart, 44, 129, 327 

Spring Lake (N. J.), 2, 5, 18 

Spur dog, 350 

Spur Dogfish, 166 

Squalene, 200 

Squalid ae, 194, 244, 350 

Squaliolus laticaudus, 218 

Squalus acanthias, 161, 166, 168, 183, 207, 

225, 239, 260, 321, 350, 363 
Squalus cubensis, 94 
Squalus fernandinus, 353 
Squalus me galops, 353 
Squalus sucklii, 376 
Squatina calif ornica, 285, 286 
Squatina dumeril, 286, 363 
Squatina squatina, 286 
Squatinidae, 244, 285 

Stamps (postage) showing selachians, 150 
Stanley, Sgt. Earl S., 35 
Starry Skate, 259 
S.S. Cape San Juan, 45 
S.S. Edwin T. Meredith, 45 
S.S. Nova Scotia, 31 
Stegostoma fasciatum, 312 
Steinhart Aquarium, 268 
Stiles, Walter, 54 
Stilwell, Lester, 7 
Stingaree, 267 
Sting Ray (general), 21, 78, 93, 143, 159, 

191, 211, 225, 226, 244, 264, 266-272 
Sting Ray, Atlantic, 364 

Atlantic Round, 272 

Bat, 272, 364 

Butterfly, 271 

California Round, 268 

Capt. Cook's, 269 

Diamond, 270, 364 

Rat-Tailed, 270 

Rough, 364 
Sting Ray wound, treatment of, 269 
Stings (of Sting Rays), 225, 246, 266-271, 

278, 327, 348 
Stink bombs, 124 
Strasburg, Donald W., 189 
Stun-guns, 55 
Submarines named Shark, 149 



Sucker Fish, 359 

Suez Canal, 42 

Sumatra, 193 

Summer Skate, 256 

"Sunfish," 304 

Sunni Muslims, 173 

Supersonics, 124 

Survival, 31, 32 

Survival at Sea, 32 

Suva (Fiji), 347 

Swan River (Australia), 330 

Swarming (of fish), 17 

Sweden, 167, 168 

"Sweet William," 166, 172 

Swell Shark, 319 

Swingletail, 308 

Swordfish, 160, 217, 301 

Sydney (Australia), 42, 80, 84, 118, 154, 

Sydney Daily Guardian, 81 
Sydney Daily Telegraph, 28 
Sydney Morning Herald, 42 
Symmira altavela, 364 

Tahiti, 92, 141, 191 

Taiwan, 174 

Tampa (Fla.), 331 

Tanga Islands, 91 

Tanning, 170 

Tarnow, Herman, 7 

Tarpon, 326 

Tasmania, 146, 171, 342 

Taxonomy (of the selachians), 243 

Taylor, Ron, 55 

Teeth (of selachians), 34, 51, 59, 63, 72, 

80, 138, 140, 180, (fossil, 210), 223, 

225, 273, 281 
Teleosts (Teleostii), 217, 288, 359 
Temblor Sea, The, 211 
Tennent, Sir J. E., 145 
Tester, Dr. Albert, 129 
Texas, 159, 262, 276, 282, 300, 331, 335, 349 
Texas Fish & Game Comm., 159, 317 
Texas Skate, 261 
Thailand. 265, 284, 342 
"The List," 43 
Theriot, Suzanne, 46 
The Silent World, 37 
The World Beneath The Sea, 37 
Thompson, Capt. Charles, 74 
Thornback Skate, 164, 168 
Thorndog, 350 

Thorne, Edwin, 17, 324 

Thrasher, 308 

Thresher Shark, 21, 103, 107, 161, 169, 174, 
177, 219, 224, 244, 308, 363, 376 
Big-Eyed, 310 

Thule (Greenland), 355 

Thursday Island, 91 

Tiburon, 25, 50, 148, 213 

Tiger Shark, 5, 21, 37, 38, 48, 50, 53, 55, 
66, 69, 77, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 88, 94, 97, 
100, 103, 107, 116, 117, 122, 129, 132, 
154, 180, 198, 216, 224, 226, 229, 233, 
334, 363 

Tigris River (Iraq), 345 

Tintoreros (Shark), 341 

Tlingit Indians, 143 

Tobacco Box Skate, 257 

Tokyo, 376 

Toper (Shark), 339 

Tope Shark, 339 

Torpedinidae, 244, 247, 254 

Torpedo, Atlantic, 364 

Torpedo californica, 250 

Torpedo Jiobiliana, 249, 250, 364 

Torpedo Ray, 78, 191, 249 

Torres Straits, 52, 142 

Tonola (B.W.I.), 84, 86 

Training sharks, 234 

Travis, William, 179 

Triae?iodon obesus, 329 

Triakidae, 244, 321, 329 

Triakis henlei, 323 

Triakis se?Jiifasciata, 42, 323, 363 

Triassic Period, The, 209 

Trinidad (Cal.), 42, 323 

Trinidad (W.I.), 69 

Troy, Joseph, 53 

Trygon nistrix, 265 

Tucker, Dr. D. W., 150 

Tulane Univ., 43, 129 

Tuna, 333 

Tursiops truncatus, 83 

Turtles, 15 

Twain, Mark, 151 

Typhlonarke, 228 

Typhlonarke aysoni, 250 

United Kingdom, 176 

United Nations, 168, 169, 174, 175, 176, 313 

U.S. Air Force, 32, 34, 127 

U.S. Army Air Corps, 124 



U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, 6, 

16, 161, 162, 191, 347 
U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, 336 
U.S. Dept. of Interior, 168 
U.S. Dept. of State, 125, 187 
U.S. Fish & WUdUfe Service, 21, 44, 54, 

128, 173, 179, 189, 242, 273, 327, 328, 

333, 334, 362 
U.S. National Museum, 265 
U.S. Navy, 26, 30, 34, 44, 55, 88, 125, 129, 

139, 149 
U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office, 315 
U.S.S. Dale, 26 
U.S.S. Indianapolis, 31 
U.S.S. Monterey, 26 
Univ. of Hawaii, 44, 129 
Univ. of Miami, 193,230, 310 
Urolophidae, 244, 271 
Urolophns halleri, 268, 271 
Urolophus jamaicensis, 272 
Uruguay, 322 

Vaabaai (Soupfin), 170 

Van Brunt, Charles, 9 

Van Buskirk, Arthur, 10 

Van Sant, Charles, 1 

Venezuela, 174 

Venice (Cal.), 22 

Venice (Fla.), 211 

Venice (Italy), 324 

Venom (of Spiny Dogfish), 351 

(of Sting Rays), 268, 273 
Verrill, A. Hyatt, 282 
Victoria (Australia), 24 
Viet Nam, 139 
Virginia, 256, 270 
Virgin Islands, 85 
Vision (of selachians), 228 
Visitante (Shark), 341 
Vitamins (from sharks), 72, 88, 118, 126, 

175, 182, 183, 184, 186, 198, 338 
Vrystaat, S.A.N, frigate, 123 
Vulpecula marina, 376 

Waikari (N. Z.), 240 
Wales, 167 

Walford, Dr. L. A., 21, 242, 273 
Ward, Brooke & Co., Ltd., 129 
Warimos, Island of, 76, 302 
Warrau Amerinds (S. Am.), 137 
Washington (state), 188, 190, 300 
Washington, Univ. of, 184 

Water-pistols, 38 

Water-skiing, 58 

Watkins, Anthony, 180 

Watson, Sir Brook, 149 

Weapons, shark-tooth, 192 

Weaver, Billy, 15 

West Africa, 249, 251, 267, 276, 280, 284, 

297, 327, 334, 358 
West Germany, 167, 168, 176, 177, 237 
West Indies, The, 211, 272, 282, 311, 331, 

334, 353 
Whale, Blue, 218 
Whaler, Black, 329, 330 

Blue, 332 

Bronze, 329 

Brovi'n, 330 

Common, 329 

South Australian, 330 
Whale Oil, 95, 102 
Whaler Shark, 55, 82, 329 
Whales, 309, 332, 356 

Whale Shark, 64, 95, 139, 218, 228, 244, 
304, 312-318, 363 

formula for finding weight of, 314 
Whip, Capt. B. J., 147 
Whip Ray, 244, 266 
Whip-Tailed Shark, 308 
White Death (Great White), 101, 102, 

White, George, 3 
White Pointer (Great White), 24, 101, 

White Sea, The, 356 
White Shark (Great White), 132, 298, 

White-Tipped Shark, 133, 169, 328, 363 
Whitley, Dr. G. P., 97, 156, 227, 239, 251 
Wills, Bill, 337 
Wilson, Barry, 34, 43, 45 
Wilson, Dr. D. P., 250 
Winter Skate, 260 
Wisby, Dr. Warren, 230 
Wise, Col. H. D., 103 
Wobbegong, 43, 82, 83, 311, 312 
Wood, Ass. U.S. Attorney R. B., 153 
Wood, F. G., 44 
Woods Hole (Mass.), 300 
Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst., 51, 124 
Woodward, Sir Arthur Smith, 206 
World War II, 29, 45, 46, 48, 87, 123, 150, 
163, 182, 186, 200, 230, 338 



Worship (shark), 139 
Wvckoff Dock, 6 
Wylie, Lt. Hugh, 152 
Wyoming, 210 

Xiphias gladius, 301 

Yale Univ., 258 

Yangtze River (China), 255 

Yellow Sea, TTie, 32 

Yolk-sacs (of selachians), 78, 238, 303, 


Yorkshire (England), 167 
Yoshikirizame, 376 
Young, Capt. William, 50, 61, 163 
Young, Kenneth M., 117 
Yucatan, 280, 282 

Zambesi River, 284, 344 
Zanzibar, 336, 361 
Zapteryx brevirostris, 280 
Zebra Shark, 312 
Zeuglodon, 210 


is at the moment Assistant Administrative Director to the Board of Edu- 
cation, City of New York. A veteran in the field of education, he is also 
a life-long sailor and fisherman, who has amassed a fantastic private 
library on various aspects of the sea. He has devoted more than eight 
years of research to this book alone. Dr. and Mrs. McCormick live cur- 
rently in Manhattan. 


is a newspaperman of distinction. Formerly with the Bridgeport Herald, 
of Bridgeport, Connecticut, he was also on the Sunday staflF of the 
New York Daily News. His keen reporter's eye and flair for descriptive 
writing have made an immense contribution to the many and strange 
items of information encompassed in this volume. He lives in Bethesda, 
Maryland, and is on the staff of The National Geographic magazine. 
Mr. Allen is also the author of The Quest: A Report on Extraterrestrial 
Life, published by Chilton. 


was the doyen of living shark fishermen. (He passed away just as this 
book was going to press.) He hunted sharks, rays and skates in almost 
every ocean of the world for over sixty years. His immense knowledge, 
all first-hand, was the central edifice of Shadows in the Sea. 


^•'- H. 0. 1. I 

End leaf photo: Winslow Homer's "The Gulf Stream," 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wolfe Fund, 1906 

Title photo: Tom Allen 
Opening sketches: Ronald D. Schwartz