Saturday, July 1, 1916: Beach Haven, NJ
Philadelphia, PA is an awful place to be in the summer.
In all fairness to the City of Brotherly Love, every city is an awful place to be in the summer, just hot and crowded and miserable. And that’s today! Before air conditioning there was really only one strategy to beat the heat: get the heck out of town. Entire families would decamp from the city to somewhere more comfortable: country houses, lodges in the Poconos, beachside resorts in New Jersey.
That’s exactly what the Vansant family of 4038 Spruce Street, Philadelphia did. On Saturday, July 1st, 1916 Dr. Eugene L. Vansant, his son Charles, and his daughters Eugenia and Louise set out for the town of Beach Haven, New Jersey, at the south end of Long Beach Island.
They arrived at 5:00 PM and checked into the Engleside Hotel. While his father and sisters unpacked, Charles decided he would rather take a swim before supper. He changed into his bathing suit and went down to the beach. He recognized the lifeguard on duty, Alexander Ott, from previous trips and waved hello.
As he made his way down to the water he ran into a friendly Chesapeake Bay retriever. He played with the dog for a few minutes in the shallow water near the shore, but eventually decided to swim out to the deeper waters beyond the lifelines and breakers. He tried to convince the dog to follow, but it seemed hesitant and turned back towards the beach.
Charles was confused by his playmate’s sudden reluctance, but several observers on shore were not. They saw a black fin cutting through the water and heading towards the young swimmer, and yelled out a warning. Unfortunately, Charles either could not hear or understand them and continued to take a leisurely swim.
Suddenly, Vansant gave a shriek and briefly disappeared beneath the waves. When he resurfaced he began frantically paddling towards the shore, the waters behind him turning crimson with blood.
Alexander Ott immediately dove into the surf to rescue the struggling swimmer. He reached Charles Vansant some 40 yards off shore and saw what was causing his struggles: some sort of bluish-gray mackerel shark, over 9′ long and weighing at least 500 lbs. Accounts differ as to whether it was latched on to Vansant’s thigh or stalking him from a few feet away.
Ott managed to get Vansant into the shallow waters, where a human chain pulled them safely onto the beach. It soon became clear just how severe Vansant’s injuries were: the shark had ripped all the flesh off the back of his right thigh from the hip to the knee, exposing the bone. Ott frantically tried to stop the bleeding with a makeshift tourniquet, while beachgoers watched on in horror. Dr. Vansant and a friendly medical student ran down to the beach and managed to carry the unconscious Charles back to the manager’s office at the hotel and lay him out on the desk.
It soon became clear that Charles’s injuries were too much for Dr. Vansant to handle — he was an otolaryngologist, for God’s sake, not a trauma surgeon. Local physician Dr. Herbert Willis was called in, along with Dr. Joseph Neff, Philadelphia’s director of public health, who was vacationing nearby. The three men discussed transporting Charles to the nearest hospital, some 30 miles away in Toms River, but concluded that their patient had lost too much blood to make the trip feasible.
Charles Epting Vansant was pronounced dead of his injuries at 6:45 PM. He was 23 years old.
As news of the shark attack spread, the general public began started to worry about the sudden appearance of a man-eating shark off of the normally safe Jersey Shore. Marine biologists responded quickly to inform the general public… inform them that actually, there were some 20 species of sharks that made mid-Atlantic waters their home, including several species commonly thought of as “man-eaters.”
They also reassured the public that they had nothing to worry about. Charles Vansant’s death, while tragic, was a statistical anomaly, a freak. Maybe the shark had accidentally bit Vansant while trying to attack the dog, or maybe it had been confused by the full-body black swimsuit that made him look like a seal.
In any case, they reminded everyone that dangerous man-eating sharks rarely ventured out of tropical waters, and the ones in temperate waters would never attack humans unless provoked. In the 1890s eccentric millionaire Hermann Oelrichs had offered $500 to anyone who could provide physical evidence of a shark attacking a human anywhere north of Cape Hatteras. It was never claimed.
Fish Commissioner James M. Meehan of Philadelphia even declared that, “Despite the death of Charles Epting Vansant at Beach Haven Saturday and the report that two sharks have been caught in that vicinity recently, I do not believe there is any reason why people should hesitate to go in swimming at the beaches for fear of man-eaters.”
Maybe the marine biologists should have been reading the newspapers. Because in the summer of 1916 they were filled with stories of sharks behaving strangely up and down the East Coast. Some highlights:
- On June 21st, a sailor in the Gulf of Mexico was bit on the leg by a shark that had been hauled up on the deck of his trawler.
- On June 22nd, a trio of fisherman in Little Egg Harbor, NJ had to fight off a shark that attacked their boat.
- On June 23rd, the good people of Pablo Beach, FL witnessed multiple sharks working in unison to attack a pod of whales. Sailors reported seeing similar “schools” of a hundred sharks or more.
- On June 27th two fishermen in Staten Island, NY were chased back to port by a monster 10′ shark.
- On July 1st, fishermen near Beach Haven caught and killed multiple sharks, each one just over the size where they would be considered man-eaters.
And it wasn’t just along the East Coast. In 1916 shark populations in the western Atlantic Ocean were booming. They were so plentiful that shark meat was flooding into fish markets, where it was being sold as swordfish. The Austrian Marine board considered them such a nuisance they were offering significant bounties for fishermen who could capture or kill man-eaters.
Marine biologists chose not to emphasize those facts, though. They weren’t alone. Municipal governments up and down the Jersey Shore reassured the public that their beaches were completely safe and that there was no reason to stay away or cancel their Independence Day hotel reservations. Even so, many beachside communities took the extra precaution of safeguarding their beaches with wire nets positioned some 100 yards off shore.
Thursday, July 6, 1916: Spring Lake, NJ
Spring Lake, NJ is about 45 miles north of Beach Haven. In 1916 it was considered the ritziest resort town on the Jersey Shore. And the Essex & Sussex Hotel was was its most luxurious hotel.
At 1:45 PM on Thursday, July 6th, several of the Essex & Sussex’s menial employees decided to take a dip on their lunch break. They knew they couldn’t venture past the employee section of the beach, but it would still give them plenty of time to scope out the pretty young guests staying through the holiday week.
With the recent Beach Haven shark attack on their minds, most of the employees decided to hew close to shore. Daring and athletic bellhop Charles Bruder, though, swam out past the lifelines and breakers and nets, over 130 yards from shore.
Suddenly, a woman on the guest beach screamed and ran to the lifeguards. “The man in the red canoe is upset!” Lifeguards Chris Anderson and George White were confused — there wasn’t anyone canoeing out there, was there? Then, a strange shape leapt from the water, or was flung out of the water. It screamed, and the lifeguards realized it was Charles Bruder. They hadn’t recognized him at first because his right leg was missing. The “red canoe” the guest had seen was a spray of blood from his stump.
Anderson and White launched the lifeboat and sped out to Bruder’s location. As they drew near Bruder shouted, “A shark bit me! Bit my legs off!” The lifeguards didn’t see any sharks, but they had little reason to doubt the story. Bruder’s right leg had been bitten off below the knee, and so had his left foot. Most of the flesh on his legs had been stripped of skin and muscle. A huge gash on his side exposed his ribs.
As his rescuers raced against time and the bottom of the lifeboat slowly filled with blood, Bruder drifted off into unconsciousness. He died before the boat reached shore. He was 28 years old.
Doctors called to attend to Bruder’s remains had to delay examining the body to treat onlookers who had fainted at the grisly sight. Meanwhile, a quick-thinking socialite commandeered the hotel’s switchboard and alerted every resort up and down the coast, warning them to get bathers out of the water now.
If Vansant’s death worried the general public, Bruder’s death threw them into a blind panic. Scientists once again tried to calm everyone down, declaring that no one had seen whatever had attacked Bruder, that sharks didn’t have the jaw strength to sever human limbs, that large sharks rarely ventured into shallow waters, that two shark attacks in such a short period of time was the sort of freak occurrence that only happened once in a millennium.
The general public, of course, did not find any of that calming. Instead of listening to the scientists, they listened to the old salts who declared that a man-eating shark had killed twice, and would not stop killing until it was destroyed.
The resorts declared open season on sharks, augmenting their wire netting with patrol boats armed with shotguns and harpoons. The New York Evening World offered a $100 bounty to anyone who could capture the man-eater, which brought every fisherman out.
- On July 7th, Field and Stream columnist E.F. Warner captured a large sandbar shark near Beach Haven and polished it off with three shots to the head from his .38. Not very sporting if you ask me.
- That same day two Spring Lake boaters spotted a bearded shark and fired at it with a rifle, but the bullets only ricocheted off its hide.
- Further north, four members of the Bayonne police department spotted a 12′ shark headed towards several swimming children and started firing blindly at it with their sevice revolvers. Fortunately they didn’t hit the children, but the shark escaped.
- On July 8th, Asbury Park lifeguard Ben Everingham was attacked by a different 12′ shark and had to fend it off with an oar until it lost interest and turned back to the sea.
- A 7′ shark that attacked seven fishermen near Canarsie was not so lucky, and was beaten to death in shallow water.
- On July 9th, two sharks were caught in a Toms River fish pond. They were captured, killed, and cut open. It turned out one of them had a solid gold wedding ring in its stomach.
- On July 10th, an injured bluenose shark was captured in Monmouth Beach. Its injuries matched the ones that Everingham inflicted on his attacker two days earlier.
- Meanwhile, the nephew of republican presidential candidate Charles Evan Hughes was rattled by a shark who swam under his canoe, frightening his lady friend.
- Fisherman John Ketcham was out in the South Bay when a “school” of hungry sharks tried to capsize his boat and eat him alive. Other “schools” were spotted in Raritan Bay and Bayard’s Bay.
- A shark attacked another boy near Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, but he escaped with his life.
I would be surprised if even half of these stories turned out to be true. And I suspect even the true ones are wild exaggerations.
Sport fishermen were definitely having a moment, though. Hardly a day went by without multiple 8′ to 12′ sharks being pulled from the water. Scientists were quick to point out that sharks that long were not actually uncommon, but no one was listening.
Wednesday, July 12, 1916: Matawan, NJ
On Wednesday, July 12th Captain Thomas Cottrell was returning Matawan, NJ from a fishing trip when he spotted a large shark swimming up Matawan Creek with the high tide. Cottrell dashed to the nearest phone and called the Matawan police department. The police were not impressed. A shark? In Matawan, New Jersey? Some two miles inland? Not bloody likely. They dismissed Cottrell’s warning as shark-induced hysteria and hung up.
Cottrell decided if the police wouldn’t act, he would. He hopped on a nearby motorboat and went up the creek to warn as many people as he could. Most of whom didn’t believe him either.
Around 2:00 PM a group of local boys were goofing around in a swimming hole near the Wyckoff docks. As they were playing they noticed “an old weather-beaten log” bob to the surface, but they had more important things to pay attention to. Like the kid doing some sick backflips.
Then, young Lester Stillwell screamed as the “old log” surged towards him, revealing a mouth full of gleaming white teeth. He was dragged beneath the surface. His friends got out of the water as soon as they could and ran back to town town stark naked, yelling “Shark!” the whole way.
Adults swarmed to the creek to see what they could do to help. They dismissed the shark talk as mere hysteria, but they worried that poor Lester Stillwell had suffered an epileptic seizure or was stuck on some submerged debris. They knew the boy was almost certainly dead — he had been under for over half an hour — but at they very least they could recover his body.
One group of responders blocked the creek with a sheet of chicken wire, hoping to trap the body before it drifted out with the tide. Others poked into the creek with sticks, searching for the body, while popular tailor Watson Stanley Fisher took the more direct approach of diving into the deepest part of the creek.
Fisher surfaced and claimed to have spotted the boy’s body trapped beneath a log, then announced he was going to make another dive to try and free it. When he surfaced a second time he began stumbling towards shore, only to be attacked from behind by a shark as he reached waist-deep water. The crowd watched in stunned horror as Fisher was mauled by the shark, none of them moving a muscle to help. Then the shark fled, slamming into the chicken wire barrier so forcefully it was thrown like if it had been hit by a truck.
A local physician treated Watson’s wounds as best as he could, but they needed more than first aid — the entire back of his left leg had been stripped of flesh. He was carried up the embankment to a nearby train station, where a train whisked him away to the Long Branch and Monmouth Memorial Hospital. Doctors prepared to remove his leg in an attempt to save his life, but he had already lost too much blood. He was declared dead at 6:35 PM. He was 24 years old.
Further downstream, another group of boys were playing in a swimming hole at Cliffwood Beach when the shark arrived. They scrambled to get out of the water, but young Joseph Dunn was furthest away from the dock and couldn’t make it in time. The shark latched on to his left foot and dragged him downstream a considerable distance. The other kids formed a human chain, pulled Joseph free of the water, and got him to St. Peter’s Hospital by car. His wounds were severe but he eventually recovered and lived to a ripe old age, dying in 1982.
What was left of Lester Stillwell’s body was discovered two days later, beached near a railroad bridge. He was 11 years old.
The grieving folks of Matawan sprung into action. First they dumped so much dynamite into the creek that they probably killed most of the fish in it. Then they declared a bounty on sharks — very unusual for a landlocked borough.
Captain Cottrell tried to claim it, though he was dogged by rumors the shark he’d “caught” was actually purchased from another fishermen further down the coast.
The Asbury Park Fishing Club caught a shark at the mouth of Lake Takanassee that they dubbed the “Takanassee Tiger” but it didn’t seem large enough to be the Matawan man-eater.
A more likely candidate was caught was by Barnum & Bailey lion tamer Michael Schleisser out in Raritan Bay. Schleisser’s shark was big enough that it had briefly towed his rowboat backwards, and had to be beaten to death with a broken oar. When cut open it was discovered to have a belly full of human skin, fat and muscle — and the shinbone of a child.
For the next few weeks sharks were spotted everywhere. They were seen off Prince’s Bay, New Brighton, Raritan Bay, Brighton Beach, and Coney Island.
- Sightings in Oyster Bay encouraged a local matron to go shark hunting from her seaplane.
- Further down the coast, a mob of angry bathers attacked a “school of man-eating sharks” with axes and drove them out to deep waters.
- In a tragic and avoidable incident, a man in Newark drowned in shallow waters because beachgoers, afraid of sharks, refused to enter the water.
- Even the high seas were full of sharks. The crew of the wrecked coal steamer Ramos were attacked by sharks as they tried to escape in their lifeboats, and the missing crew of the wrecked Garrie Strong were assumed to have been devoured by sharks.
- And in perhaps the oddest turn of this story, pioneering science fiction editor Hugo Gernsback proposed a solution to the shark problem: dragging fish hooks attached to a live wire behind ships to electrocute hungry sharks.
And then shark sightings just… petered out as beach season wound down. By the end of August they had practically disappeared. By September they had stopped entirely.
As the tragic shark attacks faded from the front pages, the scientific community tried to put their heads together and figure out what had happened over the summer.
First, they needed to figure out which media reports were actually accurate. Many of the so-called shark sightings may have actually been swordfish or mackerel. Reports of shark traveling in schools were almost always misidentified porpoises. Porpoises who didn’t deserve to be attacked by with axes wielded by angry Asbury Park bathers.
And yet hey could not deny shark attacks that had been witnessed by dozens of people. They had to concede that sharks did indeed have the jaw strength to break human bones, and that they would attack humans unprovoked.
But why now?
Some of the wackier explanations that were proposed could be dismissed out of hand. For instance, it seems highly unlikely that the German navy was testing a secret shark-agitating weapon in neutral waters. It also seems unlikely that sharks had been driven out of the North Atlantic by unrestricted submarine warfare, or that they had developed a taste for human flesh from feasting on the casualties of naval battles.
Some scientists proposed that shifting ocean currents had moved the range of man-eating sharks further north. It was an interesting hypothesis, but studies showed no change in the Gulf Stream’s position.
Others claimed that sharks were attacking humans because they were desperate from hunger, either caused by a reduction in shipping traffic depriving them of their “traditional source of edible refuse,” or perhaps just the depletion of coastal fisheries. This hypothesis had problems, partly sharks didn’t rely on garbage as a large part of their diet, and partly because there was no real indication that coastal fisheries were any worse in 1916 than in any other recent year. Besides, sharks are not picky eaters. They’ll eat anything they can find, and there were still plenty of fish in the sea.
In they end, scientists threw up their hands and declared that 1916 was just a “shark year.” It seemed likely that the abundance of sharks was due to nothing more than the regular fluctuations of the predator-prey cycle. The increased population pressure would have pushed some sharks into shallower waters and encouraged them to be less picky and more aggressive.
It’s likely the “shark boom” wasn’t actually all that large. Poorly researched stories in the newspapers exaggerated the size of the problem and fueled public hysteria. Which then led to more poorly researched stories, and so on. Shark populations were also significantly up in 1915 and 1917, but didn’t get extensive media coverage or cause a general panic.
The odds of being attacked by a shark are still rather slim: for coastal dwellers it’s only 1 in 3.7 million. You are still more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 1.2 million), win an Olympic medal (1 in 622,000), or be injured in a toilet-related accident (1 in 10,000).
Slim comfort, I suppose, to the families of Charles Vansant, Charles Bruder, Lester Stillwell and Stanley Fisher.
Still hungry for more Shark Week content? How about Sydney’s infamous “shark arm case,” where a shark in an aquarium barfed up a severed human arm? We discussed that in Series 10’s “An Arm Is Not Enough.”
- Fernicola, Richard G. Twelve Days of Terror. Guildford, CT: Lyons Press, 2016.
- Stansfield, Charles A. Jr. Haunted Jersey Shore. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006.
- “Anglers return with prize fish.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 22 Jun 1916.
- “14 whales driven ashore by a school of sharks.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 Jun 1916.
- “Fishermen see monster shark off Great Kills.” Perth Amboy (NJ) Evening News, 27 Jun 1916.
- “Bounties put on the shark.” New Castle (PA) News, 28 Jun 1916.
- “Sailor greets shark, now he is limping.” New York Tribune, 29 Jun 1916.
- “Four members of Slattery swap fish yarns at hotel.” Buffalo Courier, 29 Jun 1916.
- “Dies after attack by fish.” New York Times, 3 Jul 1916.
- “Man’s death from shark gives Jersey coast a shock.” Harrisburg Daily Independent, 3 Jul 1916.
- “Shark kills Jersey bather.” New York Sun, 3 Jul 1916.
- “Bathers need have no fear of sharks.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 5 Jul 1916.
- “Two sharks killed near Beach Haven.” Reading Times, 5 Jul 1916.
- “‘Man-eater,’ off New Jersey, bit Bruder, says expert.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 7 Jul 1916.
- “Nets and armed motor boat patrol to protect bathers.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 7 Jul 1916.
- “Shark hunt is on as panic spreads along N.J. coast.” New York Evening World, 7 Jul 1916.
- “Shark snaps legs of bather at Spring Lake.” Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 7 Jul 1916.
- “Beaches deserted, $100 awaits man capturing shark.” New York Evening World, 8 Jul 1916.
- “Shark driven from city bathing ground.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 8 Jul 1916.
- “Shark guards out at beach resorts.” New York Times, 8 Jul 1916.
- “Straggler, shark life experts say of Jersey raider.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 8 Jul 1916.
- “Bearded shark is bulletproof.” New York Sun, 9 Jul 1916.
- “Canarsie fisherman kill 7-foot man-eating shark.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 9 Jul 1916.
- “Bathers in South Bay have no fear of sharks.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 10 Jul 1916.
- “One shark blamed for killing two men.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 Jul 1916.
- “Sharks and swimmers.” Brooklyn Times Union, 10 Jul 1916.
- “With a jag and his B.V.D.’s he proves there are no sharks in Grove waters.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 10 Jul 1916.
- “Capture shark at Monmouth beach.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 11 Jul 1916.
- “Find wedding ring in shark caught off Seaside Park.” Passaic (NJ) Daily News, 11 Jul 1916.
- “Sees four sharks off Asbury Park.” Trenton Evening Times, 11 July 1916.
- “Shark drives Hughes’ nephew from sea beach.” New York Tribune, 11 July 1916.
- “Sharks attack Sayville fisher.” Brooklyn Times Union, 11 July 1916.
- “Sharks barred from Asbury.” Paterson (NJ) Morning Call, 11 Jul 1916.
- “Demand state aid in killing sharks; three more victims.” Trenton Evening Times, 13 Jul 1916.
- “Futile efforts to capture shark slayer of lad and man.” Asbury Park (NJ) Evening Post, 13 Jul 1916.
- “Man eating shark in Matawan Creek causes death of man and boy.” Matawan (NJ) Journal, 13 Jul 1916.
- “Matawan arms in hunt for man-eating shark.” Perth Amboy (NJ) Evening News, 13 Jul 1916.
- “Shark caught by Capt. Lundy.” Brooklyn Times Union, 13 Jul 1916.
- “Many see sharks but all get away.” New York Times, 14 Jul 1916.
- “Government to aid fight to stamp out the shark horror.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 Jul 1916.
- “Mangled remains of shark’s victim found in stream.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 Jul 1916.
- “See three sharks but catch one in Matawan Creek.” Perth Amboy (NJ) Evening News, 15 Jul 1916.
- “Thinks work of submarines gave sharks a test for human flesh.” Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, 15 Jul 1916.
- “Asbury’s bathers safe from sharks.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 Jul 1916.
- “Hints how how to catch sharks now terrorizing summer resorters on the Long Island and New Jersey coasts.” New York Sun, 16 Jul 1916.
- “The lazy, cowardly, useless shark is the sea’s undesirable citizen.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 16 Jul 1916.
- “Fear of sharks keeps 1,000,000 from the surf.” Wilmington (DE) News Journal, 17 Jul 1916.
- “Matawan Creek to be dragged in new shark hunt.” New York Evening World, 17 Jul 1916.
- “Gulf Stream curve blamed for sharks.” New York Times, 18 Jul 1916.
- “Sea survivors were pursued by sharks.” Butler (PA) Citizen, 18 Jul 1916.
- “Shark patrol to be abandoned.” Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, 18 Jul 1916.
- “Sharks in Jamaica Bay, dodge museum curators.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 Jul 1916.
- “Big shark netted in Matawan creek after hard fight.” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 20 Jul 1916.
- “Shark story crop gets bigger daily.” New York Sun, 20 Jul 1916.
- “Some sharks are 40 feet long and swallow victims.” Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, 20 Jul 1916.
- “Thinks 1916 is a shark year.” York (PA) Daily, 20 Jul 1916.
- “Bathers terrified by a wooden shark.” New York Tribune, 21 Jul 1916.
- “Electrocution is to be fate of man-eating sharks, unless they let bathers on Atlantic beaches alone.” Allentown (PA) Democrat, 21 Jul 1916.
- “Park Commissioner Lamberton is a bit skeptical over all these man-eating shark stories.” Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, 21 Jul 1916.
- “Shark caught with gill net in Matawan creek.” Keyport (NJ) Weekly, 21 Jul 1916.
- “Useless to hunt for sharks, says skipper.” Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 21 Jul 1916.
- “Think cyclones shift gulf stream.” New York Times, 22 Jul 1916.
- “More life guards, not shark hunters, needed says Raynor.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23 Jul 1916.
- “Says no shark menace is at Sea Isle City.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 Jul 1916.
- “Borough resident near shark victim.” Bridgewater (NJ) Courier-News, 24 Jul 1916.
- “Local man caught man-eating shark.” Bridgewater (NJ) Courier-News, 24 Jul 1916.
- “Seal in Delaware is taken for shark.” Bristol (PA) Daily Courier, 24 Jul 1916.
- “Seven drowned in or near New York.” New York Sun, 25 Jul 1916.
- “Shark that killed youth is at Sayreville.” Central New Jersey Home News, 25 Jul 1916.
- “Shark-scared, crowd lets bather drown. Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 25 Jul 1916.
- “Big shark escapes by breaking chain.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 Jul 1916.
- “Nine-foot shark killed in battle at Ocean City.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 Jul 1916.
- “25 bathers fight school of sharks.” Perth Amboy (NJ) Evening News, 27 Jul 1916.
- “Bristol angler gets ‘man-eater’ at Beach Haven.” Bristol (PA) Daily Courier, 27 Jul 1916.
- “Hungry sharks devour crew of schooner.” Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 27 Jul 1916.
- “Man-eating sharks are drawn to New Jersey by instinctive sense of food there, naval man says.” Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, 27 Jul 1916.
- “Shark scare caused by monster carp.” Camden Morning Post, 27 Jul 1916.
- “Theory as to prevalence of sharks thinks dangers are exaggerated.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 27 Jul 1916.
- Gernsback, Hugo. “Killing sharks by electricity.” The Electrical Experimenter, Volume 4 , Number 5 (September 1916).
- Murphy, Robert Cushman and Nichols, John Treadwell. “The shark situation in the waters about New York.” Brooklyln Museum Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 4 (October 1916)
- Francis, Beryl. “Before and after ‘Jaws’: Changing representations of shark attacks.” The Great Circle, Volume 34, Number 2 (2012).
- “Finding Joseph Dunn.” https://mdecoy182.tripod.com/josedunnrevised.html Accessed 5/1/2021.