Jaws, Sharks and a Legend

In honor of Discover Channel’s Shark Week:  There is an ongoing discussion of a cull off the coast of Australia in order to reduce the shark population in answer to some recent attacks.  While Shark fishing, like any other fishing is certainly acceptable, the mass killing of them, is not.  I also believe any fishing should be done by rod and reel.  Just as I understand bow hunting more easily than hunting with a shotgun.  It’s purer and makes for greater sport, not just killing.  This Post is in response to that story…..Jaws, the 1973 movie that terrified people and kept them from swimming in the ocean, holds special significance for me because, as a young boy, I was on the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard during the filming.  I swam in the tranquil waters where unsuspecting swimmers were gobbled up by a rogue great white shark.  In addition, Martha’s Vineyard is a very special place.  Whether in Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, Menemsha Pond or the Gayhead Cliffs, its beauty and quaintness are unlike anywhere else on the mainland US.  It was on that island that I first became fascinated with sharks.  As Mr Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss stated in the movie, “The Great White Shark (Carcarian Carcarius) is, a miracle of evolution.  All these sharks do, is eat, swim, and make little sharks and that’s all”.  Spending summers on the water, I was fortunate to have many experiences with sharks and fishing.  One late August afternoon I was fishing on board a 20 foot Robalo, a very solid fishing boat, when my friend and I hooked a couple of Bonita about 15 miles southeast of the Montauk Lighthouse.  Before we could get the fish on the boat they were devoured off the line by a small Mako Shark.  It was one of the most vicious attacks I had ever seen.  Needless to say our day was over and we high tailed it back to the harbor.  That event scared me but started a lifelong love and respect for the great creatures of the deep.  While standing on the dock at The Star Island Yacht Club I witnessed Frank Mundus arriving with huge sharks on many occasions.  Great Whites in the neighborhood of 12-15 feet and 2500 pounds were not uncommon.  I was there in early August 1986 when he brought in a Great White that weighed over 34oo pounds.  For those who may be unfamiliar, Frank Mundus was the inspiration for the character Quint in Jaws.  He was an incredible man, larger than life.  He was as famous as anyone could be in the fishing/sharking community.  He actually was a little frightening to me as a young child but I always knew there was something special about the man.  Sitting at the bar at Tiny Underwood, I heard many incredible stories about him and his exploits and I never doubted their validity.  We always knew when he caught a shark because it would spread through the Marina and the village faster than water pours over a waterfall.   We would bike or drive over to the Star Island Yacht Club as fast as we could to see his latest catch.  Never were we disappointed.  He passed away in 2008 but his legacy will live on forever.

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