Friday, May 31, 2024


The cover of a pamphlet titled "Shark Sense," featuring a cartoon man screaming in the water as a small fish nibbles his toes, with a speech bubble showing a large shark.
"Men who know most about sharks are the men who fear them the least... landlubbers will believe any shark story they hear, provided it is gory enough." In March of 1944, the U.S. Navy issued an illustrated pamphlet called Shark Sense, filled with information for the unfortunate sailor who might come into contact with sharks in tropical waters. The main gist of the piece is to assure readers that sharks are highly unlikely to actually attack uninjured humans and to offer some general facts about the animals. The problem with that latter part is that, according to Shark Sense, scientists just haven't devoted much attention to understanding them yet. 

The publication pads its sparse but sensible advice with legends of the shark's supposed ferocity, culminating in an account of the development of the first horror film to feature them. This apparently resulted in "an epidemic of shark pictures," a funny idea to consider thirty-one years before Jaws would be released. Our copy was apparently sent from its writer, Roark Bradford, to George Matthew Adams 1931. His inscription reads "Dear George: This is the little number I did for the Navy about our long-toothed friends of the briny -- Brad."

To read Shark Sense, ask for Val 817 7273 W5.

An open page of "Shark Sense," featuring text and several small cartoons of sharks.

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