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Shark Attacks on the Jersey Shore

It was the summer of 1916, a hot stretch of July days, and the Jersey Shore was crowded with people trying to cool off.  Then, for the first and only time in recorded history, sharks attacked, killing people in the New Jersey waters.  Over 12 days, five people from Beach Ha­ven to Matawan were mauled by great white or bull sharks.  The shark attacks led to panic along the coast, but also riveted the nation and inspired the classic movie Jaws.


Now, at the 100 year anniversary of these infamous shark attacks, or “Shark-tennial,” people remain fascinated by these gory incidents.  The shark attacks of 1916 have had a significant cultural impact. Jaws remains one of the most popular movies of all times, Beach Haven’s annual Shark Tour still attracts large crowds, and documentaries have run about this topic on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, etc.


Cartographer Joseph Tarella, owner of Coastal Art Maps, commemorates the infamous shark attacks with his “Summer of Blood” map, which spotlights the beaches and waters where the series of incidents occurred.  Tarella’s hand-drawn “Summer of Blood” map showcases the Jersey Shore, indicating precisely where each incident transpired.  This unique keepsake captures a moment in time when people had their carefree beach days instantly transformed, when East Coast residents were shocked and terrified, fearing the ocean and the powerful sharks that could suddenly attack.


Back in 1916, there was a widespread public panic – as well as a media frenzy – over the unprecedented shark attacks.  In the years since, people have remained fascinated by what transpired at the Jersey Shore during those sweltering days in July. 

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