Get Attacked by a shark? Easier than falling off a log.


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SHARKS HAVE BEEN GETTING A BAD RAP SINCE THE 1800s!
(popular Stephen Weir Facebook posting)

The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean is a super popular British boy's books that, while written over 150 years ago (1858), is still in print today. The novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne tells the story of how three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, are able to survive off the land, battle sharks, kill wild animals, overcome savage natives and make it back to civilization.
This is the book that inspired William Golding's Lord of the Flies. It also inspired generations of fiction readers to keep out of the water for fear being eaten by Mr. Jaws. Ballantyne never traveled to the South Pacific and most likely never  ever saw a Great White Shark, but, it didn't stop him from putting the fear of sharks into young fiction readers around the world.
Pictured in an 1890 edition of the book (below), the three boys are fishing from a log, just a short distance from shore, when suddenly a giant shark - its head bigger than the three boys - comes at them! 
They threw a freshly caught fish into the water and " in another second we saw its white breast rising; for sharks always turn over on their sides when about to seize prey," writes Ballantyne. " In another moment his snout rose above the water; his wide jaws, armed with a terrific double row of teeth, appeared. The dead fish was engulfed and the shark sank out of sight ... in a very few minutes it returned to us,and its quick motions led us to fear that it would attack us at once."
The shark does attack again, but, the boys stick a paddle in his throat and make their escape to shore!
 
Photo: SHARKS HAVE BEEN GETTING A BAD RAP SINCE THE 1800s!

The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean is a super popular British boy's books that, while written over 150 years ago (1858), is still in print today. The novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne tells the story of how three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, are able to survive off the land, battle sharks, wild animals and savage natives and make it back to civilization.
The book inspired William Golding's Lord of the Flies. It inspired generations to keep out of the water for fear being eaten. Ballantyne never traveled to the South Pacific and most likely never saw a Great White Shark, but, it didn't stop him from putting the fear of sharks into young fiction readers around the world.
Pictured in the book, the three boys are fishing from a log, just a short distance from shore, when suddenly a giant shark - its head bigger than the three boys - came at them! They threw a freshly caught fish into the water and " in another second we saw its white breast rising; for sharks always turn over on their sides when about to seize prey," writes Ballantyne. " In another moment his snout rose above the water; his wide jaws, armed with a terrific double row of teeth, appeared. The dead fish was engulfed and the shark sank out of sight ... in a very few minutes it returned to us,and its quick motions led us to fear that it would attack us at once."
The shark does attack, but, the boys stick a paddle in his throat and make their escape to shore!.
illustration from the 1890  Collins' edition of The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne
 COMMENTS AND REPLIES ON FACEBOOK
AH -  And I thought Jaws inspired the fear of sharks. Weren't the first documented shark attacks sometime in the 1800's? Maybe they were his "inspiration"...

JH -  Just bring the Bake... (referencing the Trinidadian dish call Bake and Shark)


JM -  I thought a Tiburon was a semi-sporty Hyundai. A terrible death indeed!

Stephen Weir Replies:

Stephen Weir I checked the website SharkAttack.com. They say the first reference in English,to a shark attack dates back to 1580 when a naval officer related an attack he had witnessed during a voyage between Portugal and India. 
According to the website a man "fell overboard during a storm, and it was impossible for us to reach him or go to his assistance in any way. So we threw him a block of wood attached to a rope, specially provided for this purpose. Our crew began to bring in the man, who had managed to catch the block, but, when he was no more than half the range of a musket away, there appeared from beneath the surface a big monster known as tiburon; it rushed at the man and cut him to pieces right before our eyes. It was certainly a terrible death."

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