Shark attack

December 14, 2006

Today is shark day on this blog. I thought I’d dredge up a couple of old links to shark attack stories but in the process of finding these, I found a few more, so sorry if this is a long post…

1. California – kayaker capsized by a great white

Matt Hinton’s kayak was attacked by a White Shark, 150 meters off Trinidad Head and Beach, Humboldt County, California. Hinton, age 44, was 20 to 30 meters seaward of a craggy exposed rock. The water there was 1 to 2 fathoms deep, with a temperature of 14°C. At 1700 hours, Wednesday, 5 September 1990, the sky was clear and the air temperature was 20°C. The sea was calm and exceptionally flat, with a small westerly swell undulating above the sandy ocean floor and 5-6knot winds.

The kayak was 2.7 meters in length and colored medium blue. Hinton was dressed in a full black wetsuit and had been kayaking 15 to 20 minutes.

As a large rolling wave approached the kayak, Hinton turned slightly toward shore and began paddling slowly. The wave carried him inshore for several meters before he made a gentle turn to parallel the beach, heading north. Within moments of changing course, the kayak was violently struck from below and behind the rider’s cockpit. The kayak was lifted almost a meter out of the water before tipping over to starboard (the right side). Hinton recalled,

“I had a pretty good idea of what was happening. I’d heard about Rodney’s [Swan’s] attack ten days previous at the same beach, and was not at all that surprised. When I was underwater, I looked to my left and saw the shark. It looked to me as though the shark had turned off to my left after hitting the boat and was now in a slow turn back to the right. As the shark’s body curved away to its right, I was looking at the left profile only four or five feet away. The top of the shark was very dark, almost black, and the belly bright, gleaming white. The line of demarcation between the dark and light was very sharp and wavy. I estimated its size [length] to be 8 to 10 feet [approximately 2.5 to 3 meters]. I still had my paddle in my hands, and aimed a two-handed cross-body thrust at the shark’s head. The next thing I knew, I was on the surface about 20 feet [about 6 meters] from my boat.”

Hinton began the long swim to the beach, glancing back in fear that the shark might return. He held his paddle during the entire swim, which he estimated to take five minutes. Hinton had to wait on shore about 20 minutes before his kayak washed up into water shallow enough for him to wade out and retrieve it. He drained the kayak of water and spent about 10 minutes looking over its surface for evidence of the shark’s attack.

Matt Hinton wrote: “Following the attack I spent about ten minutes looking over the boat from stem to stern, hoping to find a tooth or two embedded in the hull. There were no teeth to be found; in fact, I couldn’t even tell if there were any new scratches or gouges among all the old ones already present.” Given the attacking shark’s potential for inflicting injury, the kayaker was fortunate to have escaped unharmed.

read the whole story here

2. South Africa – surf ski bitten by great white

…Trevor Wright and his paddling partner Alan Weston… were attacked by what was estimated to be a four-metre long shark.

The last time a shark attacked a surfskier was in 2002 when a Great White bit the tail end off Paul Mauger’s surfski. He escaped unscathed.

Weston, a 54-year-old firefighter, said last night he would not have gone out had he known that there had been a sighting earlier in the day.

“You just don’t tempt fate like that,” said Weston, who has been paddling with Wright three to four times a week for the past four years.

Wright, 54, who is a surveyor at the city council, said that he was doing well following his ordeal. The pair said they would first take to the waters at Marina Da Gama before they hit the open sea again.

Wright said he was paddling with Weston when he felt a knock at the back of his surfski.

“I suspected it was a shark and shouted to Alan that there was trouble. The next thing I knew, the thing had come around to the front of my surfski. All I saw was an open mouth and eyes looking up at me.”

Wright said although he panicked when he was bumped, he thought: “It’s either going to be you or me and it’s not going to be me.”

“When I saw the thing with its open mouth at the front of my ski, it looked really mean and I thought this is not going to be a joke. It means serious business.”

While the shark bit and gnawed at the front end of his surfski, Wright rested the back of his paddle on the water to support him so that he would not fall out. Before he knew it, the shark had moved alongside.

“I don’t know where its head or tail was. There was just this huge body next to me.

“I didn’t see the fin. I thought it was going to knock me out, but it must have dived. I just turned towards the rocks and paddled as fast as I could back to the shore.”

Weston said the whole scene was “surreal”.

“It looked like a movie. Trevor shouted to me and I could see there was something wrong. But then I just saw the shark’s head breach the water and how it took out his boat.

“I paddled like heck towards him so that he could hang onto my boat just in case he fell out, but luckily the shark disappeared.”

read the whole article here

3. Shark stalks boat


One of the more intriguing cases of a White Shark attack on a boat occurred on 9 July 1953 off Fourchu, on the southeastern coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Commercial fisherman John D. Burns, with companion John MacLeod, set out daily in his dory to harvest lobsters.

Many dories dotted the sea in their quest of the prized crustacean, but only Burns’ had a white-painted hull. For nearly a week the white-hulled dory was followed by a large shark after leaving the harbor. Day after day the other fishermen watched in disbelief as the shark stalked Burns and MacLeod’s dory from behind, just as an African Lion (Panthera leo) on the savanna might stalk a Thomson’s Gazelle (Gazella thomsoni).

No sooner would their dory put out to sea than a large dorsal fin would appear astern of the boat. Then, as the dory sailed alone on July 9, the shark charged, smashing a 20-centimeter hole through the bottom of the boat. Burns and MacLeod were thrown violently into the sea. Tragically, Burns was unable to combat the heavy seas and drowned. MacLeod, however, was rescued hours later, clinging cold and forlorn to the hull of Burns’ damaged dory.

The shark did not return after its initial – and only – strike against the boat. After the boat was retrieved, an incriminating tooth fragment was removed from the hole in the dory’s hull. Ichthyologist William C. Schroeder, of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, identified this tooth fragment as having been lost by “a White Shark about 12 feet [approximately 4 meters] in length and weighing 1,100 to 1,200 pounds [500 to 550 kilograms].”

story from here

4. Kayak Fisherman Harassed by Shark

A very shaken kayak fisherman… was recently harassed by a very large shark while fishing around 800 meters offshore on the east coast of Northland.

The shark started it’s relentless harassment of the kayak while the fisherman was hauling in a boat longline with fish on. The shark was taking or mauling the fish on the longline right under the kayak as the line was being hauled in.

In a bit of a panic and keen to put some distance between himself and the agressive shark, the fisherman quickly cut away the longline and accidentally sliced himself deeply above the knee in the process, this cut bled profusely.

The fisherman, obviously shocked by all this, then paddled very slowly away from the longline. Unfortunately, once the line was cut the shark shifted all of it’s attention onto the kayak, it started by circling, and then bumping against the kayak. Occasionaly the shark would submerge only to come up from the depths and bump into the kayak from below.

The fisherman then put all of his remaining bait and burley into a plastic bag and tossed it well away from the kayak in the hope that this would divert the sharks attention, it almost worked as the shark went over to investigate the cause of the splash where the bait bag had landed, but to his horror it returned seconds later.

During the worst parts of the harrassment the fisherman was nearly knocked out of the kayak by the shark several times and had to put his legs over the side and into the water to regain balance.

He also vomited several times during the attack, probably due to the shock of being exposed to a serious and life threating situation for such an extended period of time.

In all the shark hit the kayak between 15 and 20 times with different parts of it’s anatomy including the body, dorsal fin and tail.

When the fisherman was only 150 to 200 meters offshore the back of the kayak was hit violently and the stern momentarily went under. As soon as he had regained balance the fisherman poured on the power with the paddle and, as he reached the shallow weed line near the rocks, he glanced over his shoulder to see the shark close behind, but veering away to avoid the reef.

The shark was huge, on one pass at right angles and just under the center of the kayak the fisherman noted the width of the head was greater than the distance from the back of his seat to the front of his foot rests, his estimate is a meter or more between the eyes. On this pass the dorsal fin hit the kayak amidships and almost capsized it.

As for the length he noted that the shark tail extended “five to six feet” behind the stern of the kayak when the head of the shark was level with the front. He said the kayak is “twelve and a half feet long” so the shark must have been between 17′ 6″ to 18′ 6′ long or 5.33 to 5.64 meters!

The fisherman describes the shark as having a shiny, almost jet black top and very white undersides. He mentioned the pectoral fins and tail were huge and he was adamant the tail was positioned vertically on the shark (which rules out a killer whale or other dolphin). He said the dorsal fin never rose higher than 300 to 400mm above the water although, as the back of the huge fish never broke the surface, it could have been longer.

He also noted the front of the head was flat and not pointed, this may rule out a white pointer, otherwise a great white would fit the rest of the description perfectly.

Struggling hooked fish is probably the most powerful shark attractant available. Sharks can pick up vibrations from struggling fish from kilometers away almost instantly, and this is probably what brought the shark to the boat in the first place. When the shark arrived it took some fish from the longline which likely put it into a feeding mode, the added smell of blood in the water from the fish it had mauled would have probably kept in interested in the area.

Blood from the bait and burley thrown overboard, and any that was being washed off the deck of the kayak, plus the vomit and bleeding from the badly cut knee would have all added to the sharks curiousity in the kayak.

the whole story here

5. A pit bull shark?

March 16 2002, A snorkeler hunting for sand dollars 300 yards off Deerfield Beach Friday morning became the prey of a 3-foot nurse shark. Robert Land, 39, of Deerfield Beach, said he was swimming above a school of fish, when the shark lunged forward and clamped onto his left arm.

“I had to grab him and make my way up top to get more air,” Land said. He said he spent about five minutes struggling in the water, fighting with the shark while trying to breathe, when nearby boaters noticed his distress and came over to help.

“If they weren’t there, I don’t think you’d be talking to me right now,” Land said. But even when he was safely on the boat’s deck, Land was hardly out of harm’s way. The persistent shark refused to release its grip, so the boaters slit its belly — to no avail. “It was trying to rip my arm. Scary,” Land said.

With the shark still dangling from Land’s arm, the boaters raced to the nearby docks at the Boca Raton Beach Club, 900 S. Ocean Blvd., where Boca Raton Fire-Rescue workers were waiting. There, paramedics pried the shark’s jaws open with wood planks and pieces of metal, Land said. They gave Land nitrous oxide to ease the pain, but he said he never lost consciousness.

Land was taken to Boca Raton Community Hospital, where he was treated and released, said hospital spokeswoman Betsy Whisman. He said his arm is riddled with teeth marks, and now his biggest concern is infection. Land said he’s not going to let a little shark bite keep him out of the water.

from here


This article on US shark attacks at Wikipedia makes for somber and sad reading. It is a list of shark deaths in the US. There are only two kayak related deaths:

Tamara McAllister, 24 January 26, 1989 Great white shark Killed while kayaking off the coast of Malibu, California with her boyfriend, Roy Jeffrey Stoddard. McAllister’s body was found floating face down two days later with large sections from her legs and buttocks missing; no trace of Stoddard has ever been found.


Leonard Gant April 15, 1953 Unconfirmed Killed by a shark off McGregor Point, Maui, Hawaii swimming after canoe he was in became swamped.

a selection of others:

Suk Kyu (Steve) Park November 19, 1991 Tiger shark Fishing from rocks, swept out to sea and treading water when attacked at Maliko Point, Maui, Hawaii. His body was not recovered. Shorts found indicate shark bite on left side.
Gilbert S. Hotta January 16, 1950 Unconfirmed Swept into the sea while fishing by a large wave near Kahakuloa, Maui, Hawaii. His remains were recovered from a “huge shark” three days later.
Richard Clark Best Jr, 8 June 20, 1934 Unconfirmed, probably a bull or tiger shark Killed while standing in the surf at Melbourne, Florida.
Joseph Blaney 1905-1910 Unconfirmed, probably a great white shark Killed after falling into the water from a small boat in Swampscott, Essex County, Massachusetts. The shark had upset the boat and he fell into the water.

These brought tears to me eyes, they read like gravestones and the ones where children died get me every time. (This phenomenon started when my wife and I had our first child).


If you are now worried you can read about what to do on they also tell some more scary stories. But really you shouldn’t worry as they say here:

“A more serious hazard is suggested by a flattened saxophone.

That comical, two-dimensional instrument belongs to my friend John Lull, a blues musician and member of the Tsunami Rangers kayak club. Six years ago, Lull camped on a beach up this way. He awoke, left his tent, went to the campfire for coffee. A few seconds later, a hunk of cliff broke away and thundered down toward camp.

“Rocks as big as engine blocks fell from about 100 feet up,” Lull relates. “They hit a ledge, bounced, landed on my tent.”

Lull went back to dig out his gear. His flattened sax now hangs on his living room wall, a reminder to take great care when selecting a camp near steep and friable coastal rock.”


7 Responses to “Shark attack”

  1. Morgan Says:

    Wow that would be very scary if a shark that size swam under me when i was in a kayak…

  2. DM Says:

    Reading the blurb above about Rod Stoddard and his girlfriend Tamara McAllistair makes me as intensely sad now as it did at the time it occurred in 1989. You see, I went to Pepperdine with Rod (graduating in the same very small class), who was among the most beautiful people I had ever known, both inside and out. I still remember his genuine smile and caring persona. In fact, he was motivated to study medicine at UCLA in an attempt to find a cure for the disease that afflicted his mother. When the authorities called off the search for Rod, several of us continued the search privately (private planes, search parties, etc). We were unsuccessful. He will be missed by those of us who knew him, but NEVER forgotten!

  3. Randy Wright Says:

    Hi DM,
    Can you help me?
    I want to contact the Stoddard family.
    I recently found an old surf video tape I shot back in 1989…
    I shot a video tape of my surfteam on the early morning of Jan. 29, 1989 at Hollywood by the Sea/Mandalay Beach area.
    This is just the very next morning after Tamara had been found and returned to land the afternoon/evening before…
    I feel Kandy or Rod Stoddard might want to view the tape, since it was shot before the Coast Guard had even started their search for Roy, which didn’t commence until the next day, Mon. Jan. 30, 1989.

    I have researched this sad incident immensely over the last 6 months, even going so far as to do a memorial paddle with a bro on the 20th anniversary of the attack this year on Jan. 26, 1989, at about the same time, while using my big wave surfboard to make the paddle from Latigo to Paradise Cove Pier and back…
    The video tape I recently found was shot from summer 1988 to Jan 29, 1989. It is almost 6 hours long, with the last 1/2 hour of footage shot just adjacent to the Channel Islands Harbor…
    There is a possible significent find in the tape.

    Through my research, I know the following:
    I know that Roy and Tamara were not wearing lifejackets nor wetsuits, though the water temp was 54 degrees – COLD!
    Roy was last seen leaving Latigo by a guy named Charlie Myers, he was wearing only white trunks, paddling the white kayak, which is the one with the slow leak in it. That is also the one that had the large hole in it, possibly from the attack.
    Tamara was wearing a black+blue Speedo bathing suit, and a black+blue windbreaker type jacket.
    I know that the wintertime Santa Ana winds were blowing in full force that morning of Jan. 26, 1989, with the LA county lifeguards Zuma headquaters reporting winds gusts of up to 45 mph from the NE as early as 8:14am that morning. Those winds blow straight offshore towards the Channel Islands…
    The LA Times marine forecast stated local 15-25 knot winds with 4 foot(!) chop below the canyons for that day. 4ft wind driven choppy waves blowing out to sea!!!
    That is the last time Roy and Tamara were seen as they headed out towards the kelp off Latigo to paddle towards Paradise Cove…
    The following morning, Fri. Jan. 27, 1989 Johan Jenson found the two kayaks floating upside down near Harrisons Reef while fishing with a buddy at around 11:00am.
    He called the US Coast Guard Long Beach, no big deal, so he and his friend towed the kayaks back to Ventura.
    Tamara’s undamaged kayak was tied tail first to the front of Roy’s damaged kayak.
    Sat. Jan 28, 1989, about 2:00pm, Klemme Manfred found a 7ft kayak paddle floating about 4 miles off the Channel Islands Harbor.
    About 2 1/2 hours later, at 4:35pm, while returning from Anacapa Island, Tom Bissett found Tamara 5.6 miles offshore from the Channel Islands harbor and called the Coast Guard, who then retrieved her and returned to land at 5:30pm, just as the sun set that night…

    The video I found that I shot is only some 13/14 hours later, shot just as the sun is arising the very next morning on Sunday, Jan 29, 1989 from about 6:45 until about 9:30am…

    I strongly feel that Roy’s younger brother Rod Stoddard, or his Mother Kandy, might wish to see this video…

    If you or anyone else can help me somehow,
    contact me at the surfshop I run in DogTown:

    Randy Wright
    Horizons West
    2011 Main Street
    Santa Monica, Ca. 90405
    or thru my gallery:

    Thanks you,Randy Wright

  4. Tony Perini Says:

    Roy Stoddard bussed tables part-time in the mid/late 80’s at Geoffry’s in Malibu where I was a Waiter. Roy was the NICEST guy EVER and the BEST Busboy we ever had. He performed his job with ease and dignity and accepted his tips at the end of a busy evening with a gentle sense of humbleness and appreciation. I would always tip him DOUBLE $$$ any other busboy because he worked twice as hard as any of them, there was never a stressful night if Roy was your busser, he really made my job that much easier !! Roy always gave way way beyond 100% of himself and did it with such a big, bright happy smile! This job was SO VERY beneath him yet he performed it as though it was the only job he ever knew how to do. What a blessing it was to see that he was your busser for the evening !! EVERYONE felt so comfortable and at ease around Roy and he was well liked by all. He had such a delightful and warm way about him, it truly was unforgettable. Here it is 2009 and I still remember him to this day! When he was not bussing tables or out enjoying his ‘free days’ with his girlfriend Tamara, Roy attended college at Pepperdine University where he was studying under a scholarship to become a Doctor someday. I’m very sad this intelligent and handsome young man is no longer with us…..
    One year after he left us I met Roy’s lovely and very kind mother who stopped by to visit the restaurant where her son last worked. She suffered from a side effect (I believe) of a birth control drug that was available to women in the 70’s. Hand in hand we made our way out to the ‘point section’ of the restaurant which overlooked the blue Pacific Ocean on that warm sunshiny afternoon at Geoffrey’s. We said a prayer and shed some tears as we remembered her son, that kind and warmhearted young man I will never forget… Roy Stoddard.

  5. Randy Wright Says:

    On the 26th of January, of this year 2010, in memory of Roy Stoddard and Tamara McAllister, I did a memorial paddle out from Latigo to Paradise Cove Pier and back, finishing at the beach Roy and Tami had left from on their short paddle out 21 years ago, but from which they had never made it back to.
    I was the only one on and in the water on this cloudy winter day, and I paddled my kayak offshore into the kelp beds, which was where Roy and Tamara were last seen together out past the point at Latigo on that long ago day in 1989.
    With Roy’s house on my right and Paradise Cove Pier straight ahead, I placed 2 purple morning glory flowers from my surfshops garden into the waters here in their memory and said a prayer for those two people, whose life ended tragicly too soon, but whose memory is kept alive by the people who knew and loved them…
    After paddling to the Pier and back, while offshore from Latigo once more, I decided to finish Roy and Tami’s memorial paddle by heading directly to Roy’s beach and stepped off onto the sand, and while smoking a Djarum clove cigarette as a light rain fell, I found 2 beautiful shells that had washed ashore that I have kept to remind me of this day and these 2 people…
    Returning to my shop a bit later, I cracked a cold one in my final tribute, on this rainy day, to Roy’s life,
    a fallen waterman who died doing something he enjoyed while together with the woman he loved, Tamara McAllister…
    The reasons for my doing this paddle out are simple, but they are my own…

    With a bit of help, I have let Roy’s family know of that long ago video tape I shot on January 29, 1989, next to the Channel Islands Harbor, just the following morning after Tami was found and then returned to land on the prior evening…

    Rest in Peace,
    Roy Stoddard and Tamara McAllister

    Randy Wright
    Horizons West Surfshop
    2011 Main Street
    Santa Monica, Ca. 90405
    or thru my gallery:

  6. JGC Says:

    I was thinking of Roy today realizing it had been about 20 years and on a whim Googled him and came upon this page. I am glad folks still keep him alive and vibrant in their memories. I was in graduate school with him at UCLA and he was an exceedingly fine fellow, funny and calm and hypercompetent in the way you’d want your airline pilot or surgeon to be. He is missed but not forgotten.

  7. […] different from the types of scenes we attribute to Jaws. Except real. It’s happened before, in California, but it’s still relatively rare. For the average person. I wonder what the odds for someone […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: