Top 10 Most Horrific Shark Attacks That Actually Happened

Script written by Clayton Martino.

The scariest shark attack stories are the real life shark attack stories. Between the four shark attacks near Santa Cruz, California in 1984, Randall Fry being brutally killed by a shark off the coast of Mendocino in 2004 and the French steamer La Seyne sinking in 1909, sending an estimated 100 to their deaths in the shark infested waters, these are some of the deadliest shark attacks ever. WatchMojo counts down ten unbelievable shark attack stories.

Special thanks to our users Tyson Turner, TAHOKMUSIC, AlHazard, Francis FNT, Stine Pedersen, TheBKzoo, jamie200300, Evan Wooten and ataraxia77 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Shark%20Attacks%20IRL

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Script written by Clayton Martino.

Top 10 Most Horrific Shark Attacks That Actually Happened


While such incidents are relatively uncommon, when they do happen, the end result is rarely pretty. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 horrific shark attacks.

For this list, we’re looking at the worst known shark attacks to have occurred across the world.

#10: Pacific Coast of USA
1984

There must have been something in the Pacific water in 1984, because four shark attacks occurred near Santa Cruz, California that year. Of these four unlucky victims, 28-year old Omar Conger received the most media attention, as tragically, he did not survive. Conger was able to escape from the shark and was dragged to shore by his friend, but the damage had already been done. Despite their efforts, he bled out and died on the beach. Luckily, the severity of the other three attacks proved relatively minor by comparison. Nonetheless, that particular year has since gone down as a notoriously dangerous one for swimmers in the Santa Cruz area.

#9: Singapore
1909

As the passengers aboard the French steamer La Seyne found out the hard way back in 1909… it’s not the water itself that you have to fear when a ship goes down, but what swims beneath its surface. Travelling from Java to Singapore, La Seyne met catastrophe in the Rhio Strait when it crashed into a British steamer while still 28 miles from shore. The passengers hardly had time to react, as the ship went down in less than 5 minutes, sending all onboard into the shark-infested waters. Of the 154 individuals on La Seyne, papers at the time estimated that 93 had drowned or been eaten alive.

#8: Barry Wilson
1952

The first recorded shark attack victim in California, Barry Wilson was just 17 years old when his life was tragically cut short by a shark near Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove. Wilson was swimming with his friend about 40 feet from shore when he was attacked in December 1952. The brutal attack left Wilson badly injured, and the rough water only increased the difficulty of his rescue. During the 20+ minute rescue effort by swimmers, the shark reportedly continued to circle them, though didn’t attack anyone other than Wilson. The young man was eventually pulled back to land but he’d already died from his injuries.

#7: Randall Fry
2004

We remain in California for another brutal and sadly fatal attack. Randall Fry, an avid lover of all ocean activities, and his friend Cliff Zimmerman were diving for abalone off the Mendocino coast back in 2004. Zimmerman reported hearing a loud whooshing sound before seeing the fin of the shark while the water turned red around him. Zimmerman was able to safely return to his boat, but Fry was not so lucky. The next day, a search and rescue team found his head severed from his body.

#6: Robert Pamperin
1959

Another outing in the waters of California, another case of diving for sea snails, and another shark attack. Who would’ve thought abalone diving would be so dangerous? Pamperin and his friend Gerald Lehrer were diving off the coast of San Diego back in 1959 when Pamperin let out a loud scream before disappearing beneath the water. Lehrer dove after him and reported seeing a shark that was longer than 22 feet with Pamperin stuck squarely in his mouth. Lehrer swam to shore to alert the lifeguards, but they were unable to find any trace of Pamperin, who was likely completely devoured by the shark.

#5: Ian Redmond
2011

What started out as a romantic vacation quickly turned into tragedy. On his honeymoon off Anse Lazio beach in Seychelles, Redmond was out snorkeling when he was set upon by a shark. A vacationer in a small boat was able to pull Redmond to shore, but the shark had already taken his arm and leg. Redmond bled to death on the beach while his wife of just 10 days watched. There had been a shark attack in the exact same location two weeks earlier, but the Seychelles tourism chief had elected not to close the beaches or even warn the public in order to keep attracting tourists.

#4: Rodney Fox
1963

You’d think that a punctured diaphragm, a ripped lung and pierced scapula would be enough to kill a man, but not Rodney Fox. In 1963, Fox was defending his spearfishing title when a Great White Shark grabbed him by his torso. Fox put up a good fight, including gouging the shark’s eyes, and was eventually able to escape. He required multiple hours of extensive surgery and over 460 stitches, but lived to tell the tale. He has since become an expert on great white sharks and even helped design the first ever underwater shark observation cage.

#3: Jersey Shore
1916

Before the fake tans, hairspray and fist pumps, the Jersey Shore was perhaps most famous for one of the worst series of shark attacks in history back in the early 20th century. Between July 1 and July 12 1916, four people were killed by shark attacks, with a fifth person managing to escape but suffering severe injuries. Panic ensued, capturing the attention of the nation, as locals began an effort to eliminate them from the region, referring to them as man-eaters. It is these attacks that unfortunately gave sharks their rep as ruthless killers; a reputation they still have today despite scientific discoveries that have proven otherwise.

#2: Shirley Ann Durdin
1985

Australia has a somewhat unfair reputation when it comes to shark attacks. Sure, they happen from time to time, but not quite to the extent many seem to believe. Then again, when you hear about attacks like this in the land down under, it’s hard not to let your imagination run wild. Durdin, a mother of four, was snorkeling in just seven-feet of water when she was attacked by a great white shark in 1985. Her husband and children were within view but could only watch helplessly as Durdin was ripped in two. The shark, which some estimated to be between 14 and 19 feet in length, reportedly claimed all her bodily remains.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Terrence Manuel
1974

- David Lilienfeld
2012

- Lloyd Skinner
2010

#1: USS Indianapolis
1945

The United States Navy had never suffered a single loss of life at sea as great as the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, and sharks played a large role in this. The ship was delivering parts for the first atomic bomb used in combat, which would later be dropped on Japan. On its return, however, it was hit by Japanese torpedoes and sank in 12 minutes. About 900 men were sent into the shark-infested waters of the Pacific Ocean, while the remaining 300 or so went down with the ship. When rescuers finally arrived, the sharks had eaten much of the crew. Only 317 people survived the disaster, many of whom told chilling tales of hearing blood-curdlin screams in the middle of the night as sharks attacked their fellow sailors.
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