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Shark attacks on the Atlantic Coast of the United States, outside of the semitropical regions of Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, were and continue to be rare. At the time of the Jersey Shore shark attacks, scholars and laymen alike believed that sharks wouldn’t attack living people in temperate waters without provocation. The Jersey Shore shark attacks shocked the public and academia alike and forced scholars to change their theories about shark attacks.


The beaches remained open after the death of the first victim, Charles Epting Vansant, a 25-year-old native of Philadelphia. Newspapers were reluctant to attribute his death to shark attack. The second attack was more sensational, though experts continued to assure the public that further attacks were unlikely.


Shark sightings increased in the region following the first two attacks. Sharks as long as 12 feet (4 m) were sighted. Shark panic cost the tourism industry an estimated $250,000, and bathing decline by as much as 75% in some areas. Local governments began patrolling the beach with motorboats and enclosed some beaches with steel wire mesh fences. The New Jersey House of Representatives appropriated $5,000 for eradicting the shark threat. Shark hunts ensued up and down the coasts of New Jersey and New York, with bounties going to those who captured sharks.

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