A Look at a Prime Suspect in the 1916 Shark Attacks

Some previous authors have come to the conclusion that the perpetrator of the series of attacks on the New Jersey Shore in 1916 was a Juvenile Great White.

This shark was caught in the Raritan Bay by Michael Schleisser.

Here are a few preliminary notes on the Schleisser shark, our first suspect.

A photo exists of the shark and it is clearly a Great White (Carcharodon carcharias).

It is reported to be 7.5’ in length in some accounts and 8.5 in others. Observations of the photo make the 7.5’ account most likely.

The shark weighed 325 lbs.

15 lbs. of stomach contents were recovered described as “suspicious fleshy material and bone”.

The shark was caught a few miles from the mouth of Matawan Creek in Raritan bay on July 14, 1916.

The shark supposedly almost sank the boat before it was killed with an oar.

Michael Schleisser was Harlem taxidermist and former Barnum and Bailey lion tamer. Suspicion must fall on anything associated with Barnum at the time. Also, the fact it was stuffed and displayed and Schleisser was a taxidermist is a bit suspicious.

Scientists identified the stomach contents as human remains, but there is no record of who they were or what happened to the remains. Likely it would be the staff from the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

The shark was stuffed and placed on display in Manhattan. It was later lost.