Shark Story

By Herbert Carver – Summer of 1974

Five or six of us had rented two Boston Whalers from Special Services in the summer of ’74. We had been at the structure north of the Island that we called the Reef Hotel when we decided to take the two boats to the west side of the Atoll, to the south side of the Reef opening that we referred to as “The Hook”, because of the way the reef hooks back on itself there.

I had one other person with me, and we got there a lot quicker than the other boat that had three or four people in it. When I had arrived at the hook, and couldn’t even see the other boat, I decided to make myself more visible to them so that they could come directly to me. So, I idled the motor in gear, turned it so that it kept my boat in a tight circle and stood up, waving my arms in my black wetsuit so that they could spot me.
It was then that in the corner of my vision I saw something dark approaching the boat. My immediate reaction was to sit down, at which point I saw that it was a tiger shark, as big as the boat, that I always said was a 14-footer. Without any hesitation it went to the prop and bit it, killing the engine.

I immediately pulled the starter rope, and it fired right up. The shark, unfazed by a mouth full of propeller blades, swam about twenty feet away where a fledgling Gooney was paddling around. The tiger’s head came up and out of the water, mouth open and engulfed the bird whole.

When the other boat arrived, we excitedly told them of the event. We all decided that we would not dive into the hook that day.

My dive buddy that day, Noel “Rich” Richardson, came through San Diego in 75 or 76 and together we went to see the new movie “Jaws”. In the beginning of the movie, with that pounding music in the background, the shark comes from below the girl for an attack. It was at that point, in the movie theater, that I jerked my legs up, knees to my chin, and I let out a high-pitched little girl scream. I was embarrassed and told the startled people around me that the scene was too familiar to me.

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