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, 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!
The shark does attack again, but, the boys stick a paddle in his throat and make their escape to shore!
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."