The Real JAWS


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Great White Shark

Sophia Utvik, Editor

I feel like everyone has seen, or at least has heard of the 1975 film JAWS, and if you haven’t had the chance, I recommend watching it.

Today, I’m going to be taking the theme of the movie and moving it much closer to home. If you weren’t aware, the shark attacks that inspired JAWS happened on the Jersey Shore, Matawan, Beach Haven, and Spring Lake, New Jersey. 

It was July 1, 1916,  and screaming was heard from the ocean; a lifeguard ran to the victim’s aid, but it was already too late, the Matawan Man-Eater had already found her first victim.

Something like had never happened before, so the beach wasn’t closed, and it was deemed a freak accident. Five days later, the shark struck again, another man bitten in half by her powerful jaws. Nobody wanted to swim at the beach for obvious reasons, so they went from the ocean to the creek for the hot summer days.

On July 12, within the creek, a little boy was dragged under and eaten. He was known to have epilepsy, so when the boy’s friends ran for help, they assumed he had a seizure and sunk under. People came together to help, specifically an ex-captain went to look for the body, but he too was killed by the shark, not knowing there even was one. On the same day, farther down the creek, another child was attacked, but this time, he had survived. Which made him the only survivor of the man-eater.

Scientists had not seen a shark behave like this before, and they weren’t sure one would want to kill people for the sport, but low-and-behold, the seven and a half foot long shark was found, and killed by Michael Schleisser, a taxidermist.  When they checked to make sure they found the real killer at large, her stomach revealed over fifteen pounds of human bones, which confirmed the fact that this was the Matawan Man-Eater. 

This is extremely strange because of how afraid of humans sharks are, they usually only attack without knowing if the swimmer was a seal, some other mammal, or large fish. Sharks only kill around 10 people per year, but this single shark changed history. The Matawan Man-Eater was an exception, she was ruthless, and has come to be known as the muse of JAWS.