Surf Picture

Sharknado: The Real Deal

Surf PictureTrends reoccur and history repeats itself. Have you heard that before? Sure you have. The fact of the matter is that Kelly Slater will surely win another world title and the fish tail will never die. So why do we ignore history? If something has happened before, is it not bound to happen once again?

The year was 1916. Long before Jaws would ever air on the big screen, a briny man-eater lurked along the coast of NJ. The start of the summer season also signified the launch of a series of bloody shark attacks. Beaches were crowded, children played and laughter filled the salty air on the day the monster chose his first victim. 

It all started in the coastal town of Beach Haven, a young Penn graduate by the name of Charles E. Vansant was violently attacked and killed on July 1, 1916. Reports were filed and the mourning began to commemorate this young man and his freak accident. However, a mere five days later and 45 miles north, the killer claimed his second victim. There was cause for alarm, but no one expected where the deadly shark would strike next.

A retired fishing boat captain by the name of Thomas Cattrell spotted the beast swimming inland toward the Matawan creek. Quickly, he ran into the nearby town to warn them of impending doom.  His cries for action were dismissed.

On July 12, 11-year-old Lester Stillwell was attacked in the Matawan creek.  The boy had no chance, and when an unassuming passerby heard Stillwell’s blood-curdling shrieks for assistance the man dove right in.

“Stanley Fischer attempted to pull the bloody body away from the shark and was also attacked. He died a few hours later at Monmouth Hospital in Long Branch,” according to

To top off the gruesome feeding frenzy, an hour later the flesh-famished fish would strike again, taking the leg of a fifth and final victim. 

As the warmer weather creeps across NJ, it may be likely that new predators navigate our waters yet again. Surfers, swimmers, and students alike are worried.

When speaking with,  Frank Farley, a professor of psychology at Temple University said, “Sharks are a unique icon in the world of fear. The fin above the water is universal as a symbol of dread and anticipation of harm.”

While sharks can be a terrifying aspect of the ocean, MU surfers continue to paddle out.

“I don’t think about sharks here, but they’re out there,” sophomore student-surfer Tyler Sankey continued. “You don’t really know when you’re out there. You see dolphins all the time in the summer and you see fins all the time, but no I’ve never seen one out there for sure.”

Some people say that seeing is believing, however those same people do not venture in the water without doubt. 

“In the summer of 2010 I was in the water and saw a 10 foot shark that was spotted a bunch of different times around Seaside Heights,” freshman student-surfer Paul Kelly continued. “I used to think about sharks all the time when I would go out alone but I try to ignore it now.”

With stories piling up, and eye-witness accounts sharing their two cents, can we go on much longer ignoring the possibility of a man-eater amongst us? The year is now 2015 and it has been nearly 100 years since NJ has felt the razor sharp teeth of a killer.

The Matawan man-eater was eventually caught, killed, and “when dissected, 15 pounds of various human remains were allegedly discovered in its stomach,” according to

If history truly does repeat itself then some would say that we are due. Mother Nature has given us a beautiful and wondrous ocean whose fruits we benefit from daily. Never take what we are given too lightly; the ocean may just want something in return.