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Wonders of the Deep: The Williamson Submarine Expedition, Filming the Battle Between Man and Shark

He stripped off his clothes, while the crew smeared his body with porpoise oil, native fashion, and, taking the keen edged knife between his teeth, he leaped overboard into the sea. He made for a big shark, which had seen him and was making for him with mouth wide open, showing his six sets of vicious looking teeth. At that moment he was right within the range of the camera, but he missed his stroke and came back to the barge. He dived again, and finally obtained what he wanted. He urged the big fellow right up to within a few feet of the glass window of the observation chamber, and drove his knife into the belly of the shark, as Gregory, thrilling as he looked, ground out his film.

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A Thrilling Fight With A Blue Shark (continued)

They waited. A shark circled closer to the bait, then swerved away sharply, and then suddenly the native lifted his hands and leaped head first into the transparent waters, straight out for the murderous fellow who was making direct for the carcass of the horse. Those on the deck of the vessel gathered anxiously near the top of the tube to hear the verdict from the observer in the observation chamber. Ernest Williamson awaited signals from his brother in the tube, while George leaned forward and waited for the battle scene to start in front of the observation window. The cameraman, in the meanwhile, was all in readiness, waiting with anxious breath for the critical moment. “Start!" called Ernest Williamson down the tube, and the motion picture man immediately began turning for the big and eventful scene.

A native attacking a blue shark
Attacking a sharK

There was a quick movement of arms and legs as the man and the shark clashed. The man was underneath. The shark struck violently with his tail, half turning, then straightened, stiffened, and slowly sank to the bottom of the ocean. The knife had found his heart. A moment later the native rose to the surface, with victory written all over his ugly countenance. But while it was a personal victory for the native over the shark, it was defeat as far as the moving picture camera was concerned, for all this had taken place out of the range of the motion picture camera. This meant that it all had to be done over again.

Here was the crisis in the expedition.

This shark's picture must be taken. But how? That is the question which puzzled the Williamsons, for they knew that while the wonderful pictures of sea forests and ocean meadows would be certain to interest, yet to give the needed thrill they must have this battle between a man and a shark. It must be real, and there must not be any fake about it.

Whatever was to be done must be done quickly, for the natives explained that now that one of their number had been killed, the entire school of sharks might suddenly leave as quickly as they had appeared, and once they deserted the carcase of the horse it would take days of coaxing and patient waiting to get them to come within range of the camera again. Moreover, they might be so scared at the mysterious looking apparatus which had entered their haunts and killed one of their family, that they would never approach it again for months.

But Ernest Williamson was obdurate. They could not miss this splendid opportunity, and the only way to get the thing done properly for the camera was to do it themselves.

“What! Kill a shark?" inquired the others.

"Exactly. It is not a difficult trick. I have been watching that native, and I believe I can go down and do it precisely the way he did, and within the range of the camera, too! Come on. We'll try it." And Ernest Williamson prepared to make his descent into the waters of Nassau Harbour.

Mr Ernest Williamson ready to attack a shark. The carcase of a horse in the background was used as bait

He stripped off his clothes, while the crew smeared his body with porpoise oil, native fashion, and, taking the keen edged knife between his teeth, he leaped overboard into the sea. He made for a big shark, which had seen him and was making for him with mouth wide open, showing his six sets of vicious looking teeth. At that moment he was right within the range of the camera, but he missed his stroke and came back to the barge. He dived again, and finally obtained what he wanted. He urged the big fellow right up to within a few feet of the glass window of the observation chamber, and drove his knife into the belly of the shark, as Gregory, thrilling as he looked, ground out his film.


EXTERNAL LINKS:

Thirty Leagues Under the Sea

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