A lifeguard swimming off Fire Island on Thursday was bitten in the foot by a shark. Three shark attacks in one week, off the beaches of Long Island, have prompted "Dangerous Marine Life" warning flags for some New York beaches. The first thing that may come to mind is the 1975 classic movie, "Jaws." It was just a movie...right? Was there a real life "Jaws" situation, where one shark was targeting human victims? As far as we know, the answer is YES!

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An eerie example occurred a little more than a century ago during the exact same time of year. According to weirdnj.com, The Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 occurred between July 1st and July 12th. Four people were killed and one was injured. The article says that the first victim was Charles Epting Vansant, 28, of Philadelphia. Vansant was swimming with a dog when the deadly shark began biting his legs. "He was rescued by lifeguard Alexander Ott and bystander Sheridan Taylor, who claimed the shark followed him to shore as they pulled the bleeding Vansant from the water." Vansant died from his wounds at the hotel where he was staying.

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The weirdnj.com article says that the last victim was 11 year-old Lester Stillwell, who was swimming in the Matawan Creek, which is 11 miles up stream from where the mouth meets the Atlantic Ocean. What kind of shark would swim up a creek, for over 11 miles, just to find his next victim? The article describes young Lester as floating on his back when he was violently attacked in front of his traumatized friends, who were swimming a few feet away. No one could save Lester.

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These stories were certainly a basis for Peter Benchly's book, "Jaws," which inspired the movie. Since 1916, many have debated if it was just one shark or multiple sharks that were responsible for the attacks in New Jersey. Either way, since the beginning of July, three swimmers off the coast of Long Island have been bitten by a shark. And according to abc7ny.com, the "Dangerous Marine Life" flags are waving on Long Island beaches.

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Could it be a coincidence? Sure. Could there be environmental factors that make this time of conducive to irregular shark behavior, like water temperature, tides, food availability? Definitely. However, could it be one particular shark that has gone rogue and is targeting humans? It's possible and if that is true, we may not be done with this story. Think about this, according to the International Shark Attack file in the Florida Marine Museum, in 2021 there were 73 unprovoked shark bites world-wide. Long Island has had 3 in less than 10 days.

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