According to the Shark Research Institute database, there have been as many unprovoked shark attacks in New York in the last five years as there were in the 120 before that. This year's elevated shark activity along Long Island has seen multiple people attacked just this summer.

The attacks so far this year have left a lifeguard with an injured chest and right hand and one swimmer with a bitten right foot. As Upstate residents reconsider their beach trips, this might be a good time to tell the most bizarre shark attack story in New York's history: when Mr. Keatly got bit in the groin by a five-and-a-half foot shark.

A Day At Coney Island


We get this story straight from the New York Times on July 17, 1874. Mr. Keatly - of 838 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn (now a McDonald's) - went with two of his friends for a lovely Wednesday at Coney Island. So wonderful was the day, that Mr. Keatly suggested they all go for a dip in the Atlantic. He went out a little further than his companions, but not outside a reasonable area.

While swimming around he felt a soft, cold substance rub against his leg.

And he stayed in the water? Who is this man? 90% of the human population feels a leaf of seaweed on their leg and they freak out enough that people think they're being attacked by a shark. And speaking of...

One Bad Bite

The "cold, wet substance" grazed Mr. Keatly a few more times, which got his attention. He looked down and to his horror, saw a rather large shark.

Before he could gain the shore the sea monster had fastened his teeth deep into the fleshy part of his groin, causing him to yell with pain and terror.

That would have been my initial reaction as well. Where Mr. Keatly deviated was immediately running to shore while keeping a firm hold on the shark that was now intimately acquainted with his gentleman's area. Please take a moment to mentally picture a man in 1870s swimming clothes running up the beach, holding a five-foot shark, that is currently snacking on his nether region.


A Shark's End

Upon arriving at the shore, where a small crowd had now gathered, who were there to assist in the prying off of the shark. At this point, poor Mr. Keatly was "terribly lacerated," but the shark fared much worse:

The shark, with great difficulty, was forced to loosen his hold, and was finally killed by being repeatedly struck on the head with a large stone.

I shudder to think of the "great difficulty" involved with removing a shark from such a sensitive area, but you have to admit the shark certainly was no quitter, even to the very violent end. So what happened to Mr. Keatly?

Mr. Keatly's wounds were dressed and he was removed to his home.

Fair. The man had a rough day. The shark ended up being publicly displayed in Brooklyn, which shows Brooklynites haven't changed a lot. And that's the story of New York's most bizarre shark attack. Happy swimming!

Sharks of New York

There are several species of shark in the waters around New York.

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