Sharks are the bomb! Or how they ate the sailors of the USS Indianapolis

Monday, October 31, 2011

USS Indianapolis
By now in your life you must have seen the movie Jaws. It's quite possibly one of the best movies in movie making history and it certainly has one of the best characters to ever captain a boat in a movie. As the shark hunting lads settle in one night after a hard day's shark chasing, Captain Quint tells a story. Probably one of the most chilling stories a kid could ever hear about.....

The USS Indianapolis was a vessel in the United States Navy. She holds a famous place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. On 30 July 1945, shortly after delivering critical parts for the first atomic bomb that was to be dropped on Japan, the Indianapolis fell victim to a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 men went down with the ship.

The remaining crew of 880 were cast into the briny deep. Only 316 sailors survived their time in the water. If the remainder didn't drown, they faced the horrible death of being eaten by the sharks that found them.

It's thought that the Indianapolis sinking resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in a single incident in history. It's figured the majority of the sharks were oceanic whitetip shark species. Tiger Sharks might have also killed and eaten some of the survivors.

The drowning sailor loving Oceanic whitetip shark
Imagine being huddled in a large group of people, injured from the sinking, suffering from exposure or hypothermia, hungry and dying of thirst AND you have to worry about the circling sharks! It must have been terrible.

After 4 days the group of sailors was noticed by a US plane patrolling the area. It turns out the US Navy had not realised the Indianapolis had been sunk!

Image source: Malcom Nobbs - check out his site, it's fully of great underwater photography.


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