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Black December: When Sharks Attacks Compelled The Government To Bomb The Ocean

 

Even the saltiest, saltiest surfers in the world admit that sharks give them willys. Thankfully, shark attacks are so rare that we don't have to worry about them most of the time, but "most of the time" doesn't include the period between December 18, 1957 and April 5, 1958, which is known as "Black December." " is referred to as. During that short time, nine people were attacked by sharks off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, killing six of them. Believe it or not, this was just the beginning of the weirdness.


South African Holiday

It began on December 18, 1957, when 16-year-old Robert Whirley was attacked while bodyboarding outside the city of Durban, losing his left leg below the knee and part of the same thigh. While terrifying, the attack did not raise much alarm, as shark attacks are not unheard of in the Durban area. However, only two days later, 15-year-old Alan Greene was mortally attacked while landing in the water. At that point, people started paying attention.


Panic Is On

Just three days after Greene's death, Vernon James Berry was also killed while swimming peacefully on Margate Beach, and an incident that was at first mildly alarming turned out to be an outright panic. Three attacks within a week, including two deaths, were certainly not normal. Another three days later, Donald Webster was attacked at Port Edward. He suffered bites to the head and neck, but miraculously, he was left alive. Bumper-to-bumper traffic jammed the streets of South Africa as tourists apparently fled the feeding frenzy.


Very Bad For Business

Black December not only posed a security risk to those living and vacationing in the area, but also a serious economic threat that could leave many people without jobs. South Africa's beaches are a subtropical paradise, so its businesses and the people who work for them are heavily dependent on tourism. In line with the economy as a whole, the South African government stepped in with some... unconventional solutions. Spoiler: It's dynamite.


It Was 1957

The scientific community has learned a lot about sharks since 1957, but at the time, the best idea the government had to control the shark problem was to arm lifeguards with rifles and shoot them into any scary shadows. be directed to. When that didn't work, his next idea was somehow worse: deep-charging the shark. The bombs didn't kill the sharks, but they did kill boats of fish, whose delicious corpses swam ashore and formed a seafood buffet for the animals the government was hoping to keep away from it.

His last-ditch idea was to build a barrier deep into the ocean floor with wooden planks and connected by wires. Whoever came up with that bright idea forgot about the surf. The first elder Prafulla broke all the planks and deposited them neatly on the side.

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