Unless you live in a cave hundreds of miles out of shouting distance from the nearest person, you’ve heard that this week is shark week. One week, one channel (Discovery, duh) and one marathon—a shark marathon. According to a statistic we’re making up, roughly 95% of a shark’s brain is concentrated toward violently killing stuff with its teeth. Clearly, that means good television.
Though they’ve been described as nature’s perfect killing machine, sharks are far from undefeated in their battles with less awesome animals, especially humans. Once in a great while, we strike a blow for the land creatures by fighting them off when they decide they want us for a snack.
Here are five stories of people who fought a shark and won…
1. Teen puts body board to even better use
We have no idea if boogie boarding is harder or easier than regular surfing, or if sharks just see a body board and think it’s like taking candy from a baby, or just eating an entire candy-filled baby, but thanks to a New Zealand girl with balls bigger than ours, we now hold the craft in the same esteem as dragon baiting and bear fisting.
Fourteen-year-old Lydia Ward was wading chest deep off the coast of Oreti Beach near Invercargill, minding her own business with her body board when a 1.5 m shark that she hoped was a piece of driftwood lunged at her from beneath the surface, biting through her wetsuit on her hip and leg.
Though her brother was nearby in the water and presumably ready to step in and help (or shit himself), Ward decided to take matters into her own hands by boinking the shark in the head with the end of her board, all the while awash in her own blood.
2. Grandma decides she ain’t too old for this shit
Sometimes, the elderly need heroes too. Because they’re usually the ones on the other end of the amazing story— the ones who just by being feeble set in motion the events leading to the amazing story. “Old lady gets her purse snatched—forces younger, healthier, more productive human to run down the perpetrator and get it back” or “Octogenarian miraculously survives latest round of dialysis, forces starry-eyed youth of America to foot the medicare bill” are the headlines we’re used to hearing.
Patricia Turnbull—a grandma at 60 years young—wasn’t having any of that ethos when a 5-foot-long shark literally took a big wet bite out of her ass when she was snorkeling off of the coast of Northeast Australia in March of last year. “[I was thinking] this shark’s not going to get the better of me, and I started punching it,” she was quoted as saying. Well said, ma’am.
So punch she did, until the shark had enough and swam away. Though she did end up losing 40% of her blood, Turnbull was very excited at the idea of inadvertently getting a new, remodeled, wrinkle-free ass courtesy of the advances of plastic surgery.
3. Mom saves sons with camera doubling as punching glove
Urban legends often offer tales of mother’s getting what’s called “hysterical strength” in the face of a life and death situation involving their kids. An example we’ve all heard is the one about the mom lifting an automobile off of a child that’s been trapped under it so he can either wiggle to safety or be rescued. We’ll let Human Giant show what we’re talking about.
Hysterical strength isn’t something that’s actually recognized, though, in medical academia, so another bit of anecdotal evidence of its existence will have to do in the form of Becky Cooke. While Cooke was wading knee deep on a beach near Perth, Australia (again) with two of her sons, she was bitten on the lower leg by a shark.
At the exact moment of the attack, she was holding her younger son and managed to take a few steps before setting him down and unleashing her fury on the shark, hitting it repeatedly on the head with her camera. Hey, when you’re a mom of suburbia enjoying a nice day out on the beach with your family and nature decides to strike, you use what you can to strike back.
4. Diver gets head swallowed, shakes it off
If JAWS 3 taught us anything, it’s that there’s absolutely no surviving being upper-torso deep inside the mouth of a great white shark. Ah, screw JAWS 3—that’s just common sense, man. It can’t happen, right? That would be like surviving a French kiss from the Queen Alien, or a swan dive into a pool of zombie piss. Sharks don’t get their own week on the Discovery channel by not knowing how to bite something’s head off when it’s already in their mouth, right? Wrong, apparently.
Professional diver Eric Nerhus was scavenging for abalone off the coast of New South Whales (you guessed it—Australia) when a 12 ft great white attacked him, taking his head, shoulders and chest in its jaws. Undeterred by the fact that his upper body was in a freaking shark’s mouth, Nerhus started gashing at the shark’s head with the chisel he’d been using for scraping abalones, causing it to release its grip.
After the shark reared back and managed to chomp his torso, Nerhus again fought it off with his mighty chisel before surfacing and signaling for help. We’re honestly torn here between commending Sir Nerhus for defeating nature’s ultimate badass, aaaaand wondering if this particular great white was born with Down syndrome or something.
5. Man kills(!) Tiger shark, underwater
You read that right. On a clear sunny day in the Gulf of Mexico in 2009, a diver named Craig Clasen punched the order of nature in the face by killing a 12-foot tiger shark while underwater. Clasen and three others were hunting yellow-fin tuna when they suddenly found themselves in the presence of the tiger shark.
When Clasen noticed that the shark was circling closer and closer around his friend and behaving in an aggressive manner, he grabbed his spear gun and knife and decided it was either stab or be eaten. After two hours of grappling and wrestling, Clasen speared the shark seven times and finally finished it off with his knife.
If you don’t trust us, watch it on video. Watch man—all that is man—conquer beast and take names. That feint humming you hear in the video isn’t the camera recording—it’s the sound of Moby Dick wailing somewhere nearby whilst his blowhole is being violated by a large, terrestrial, hominid cock.