Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Go Back in the Water...



Who can forget Mayor Larry Vaughn in the 1975 blockbuster movie, Jaws, being so concerned with the loss of July 4th tourism revenue that he opened the Amity Island, New York beaches, shortly after a shark attack resulted in the gruesome death of a little boy?


"Amity is a summer town. We need summer dollars. If the people can't swim here, they'll be glad to swim at the beaches of Cape Cod, the Hamptons, Long Island," he insisted, then opened the beaches for the 4th of July.


Well, you know the rest of the story.


True to Oscar Wilde's famous quote, "Life imitates art more than art imitates life," the Hamptons faced a similar and potentially disastrous scenario this year on July 3rd when a four to five-foot shark bit a lifeguard during a riptide training exercise. As a result, swimming was quickly suspended "Due to dangerous marine activity," then reopened in time for the 4th of July celebrations the following day.


Luckily, the lifeguard's injuries were not life-threatening. Luckily, a whole slew of medical personnel, including EMTs and other lifeguards, were already on hand to provide immediate treatment as they waited for the ambulance to haul Zack Gallo off to South Shore University Hospital. And luckily, this was the first shark attack in the area. Ever. But still, the parallels to Jaws aren't easy to ignore. There was another shark sighting later that same day, although no one knows if it was the same shark circling the beaches.



There was another 'possible' shark-related injury on Thursday the same week when Nassau County Police Department medics responded to reports of a 37-year-old man who had received a cut on his right foot while swimming at Jones Beach. But, why so many shark sightings?


Female sharks tend to head to Montauk in the late spring, and early summer to a shark nursery discovered there in 2016, where they drop off their pups, then leave. So, there are more sharks in the area, but according to OCEARCH, a non-profit dedicated to shark research, the odds of shark attacks are about one in 12 million, and luckily, most people survive. So, no worries, although we're not so sure that the irascible Quint, the shark hunter who, along with Chief Brody and Matt Hooper, set off to kill that 25-foot, three-ton great white that was eating people like candy along the shores of Amity Island, would say, "No worries."


The character of Quint in the book Jaws by Peter Benchley was based upon real people, one of whom harpooned and killed a gigantic great white believed to weigh around 4,500 pounds. That's no small fish.


Benchley roamed the seas with the shark hunter, Frank Mundus, and as Mundus tells it, he was the spark that inspired Quint's character. However, Benchley never gave Mundus full credit for the role but insisted Quint was a composite of several characters, including a man named Craig Kingsbury, whose colorful colloquialisms made the movie almost as unforgettable as the shark.


Still, no worries, Montauk. Jaws was just a movie, and you're more likely to risk dying by a defective toaster or driving a car, according to OCEARCH.

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