Peter Benchley

The shark attacks that inspired JAWS

Article: The shark attacks that inspired JAWS

“In the summer of 1916, panic struck the Jersey Shore,” reads the opening sentence of this Smithsonian magazine article. No, the panic was not caused by the arrival of overly tanned, puffed-hair and muscular visitors, but instead by shark attacks in the waters off the shore. During that summer, a shark attacked five victims. In an interview with George Burgess, a shark-attack expert in charge of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History (sounds like a role for Nicolas Cage), he explains that when these attacks happened people thought a sea turtle was responsible before the press ultimately identified it as a great white.