Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New England Shark Attacks

Just this past week a California surfer was fatally attacked by a 14 to 20 ft long shark, assumed to be a Great White. Worldwide, shark attacks (fatal or otherwise) are often concentrated in warm water areas. In the United States, such attacks tend to be concentrated in the states of Hawaii, California, and Florida. Of course these are also areas of long swimming/surfing seasons and maximum enjoyment of water activities by we humans. Fatal shark attacks in northern waters are a bit rare, though not unknown. The most northerly documented fatal shark attack on the east coast of the US occurred about 10 miles from where I was born.

In 1936 Joseph Troy Jr. was 16 years old and living in the Dorchester section of Boston. He went to visit his uncle who had a summer home in Mattapoisett on Buzzards Bay (the SE Massachusetts coast). On July 25th Troy and a friend were swimming off an area called Hollywood Beach in Mattapoisett about 150 yards offshore in perhaps 10 to 15 feet of water when a shark grabbed Troy by the left leg and pulled him underwater. Troy’s friend was about 10 feet away and went to his assistance. Ultimately he was able to get hold of Troy when the unconscious boy surfaced in a pool of blood. Other rescuers rowing out to assist got a good look at the 10 to 12 ft shark still milling around in the area. Once on shore, Troy was driven to St. Lukes Hospital in New Bedford (that would be my hospital). The boy’s femoral artery had not been severed, but his left leg was severely mangled and was being amputated when Troy passed away. From the eye witness accounts, scientist later concluded that the attacker was very likely a Great White.

Now there are some sketchy accounts of two shark fatalities closer to Boston in Massachusetts Bay in 1830 and in 1730+ but expectedly the records from those events in the 19th and 18th centuries aren’t as clear as the Buzzards Bay attack. But if true, New England has experienced a fatal shark attack every 100 years. I think I’ll be staying out of the water starting in 2030 – maybe even a year before – just to be safe.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

A coworker once told me that NH had the fewest shark sightings of any state in the union. So I asked "What, there are corn sharks in Iowa?"

Great visual.