A Thrilling Fight With A Blue Shark (continued)
Certain kinds of sharks are eaten as food by some of the poorer classes of the people. Sharks are useful for many purposes. They supply an inferior kind of oil, and their skin, under the name of "shagreen” is made extensive use of by cabinet makers for smoothing and polishing wood. In some parts of the world the dried fins of the shark form an important article of trade, the Chinese, for instance, preparing gelatine from them.
One of the strong desires of the Williamsons was to take motion pictures of a shark in its native haunts in some exciting situations, fighting with a man, if possible, or with another shark. They were determined to secure such a picture, as with these scenes recorded on their films they could be sure that they had added the vital thrill so necessary for popular appeal. There were some obstacles in the way, however. They would need the necessary bait to draw the monster of the deep near enough to the observation window to ensure a good picture. They were successful in securing the carcass of a horse, and after considerable red tape opposition by the local authorities, they had it towed out to the barge.
The barge and the bait were taken outside Nassau Harbour the next morning, and allowed to drift along the edge of the ocean where sharks are always lurking, big ugly fellows with dark blue backs and white bellies. The horse had been floating here for scarcely fifteen minutes, when a long, shadowy form was seen gliding, snake-like, past the side of the barge. This shark presently went away, and in half an hour came back with another. Then these two went away, and returned soon afterwards with two more, and so the hungry company grew until a dozen sharks were circling round the carcase of the horse. But they seemed to be shy and suspicious of the strange swaying tube which hung below the vessel, and they would not come up to the horse, swinging there temptingly in range of the motion picture machine.
All that day and the next day the two young men waited patiently and watched, but the sharks kept at a distance, their fears stronger than their hunger. On the third day, however, at about eleven in the morning, one of the ravenous crew darted forward and closed his jaws on the horse's flank. Then the other sharks drew nearer, and for two hours there was a score of them within striking distance. The time had come for the sensational picture.
Meantime, half crouching on the deck of the barge stood a native, his black, oil-smeared body glistening in the sun, his white teeth shut on a wicked looking knife. At a word he was ready to dive into the sea and take his chances with one of the brutes below, trusting to his quickness and skill to save him. This man was the best diver in Nassau; it was said that he had once gone down to a depth of eighty feet, and he boasted that he was not afraid of any shark that inhabits the deep.
With fascinated interest, the Americans watched the native while he watched the sharks. The native's task was to time his spring so cunningly that he would shoot down into the sea just in time to meet one of those big fellows in its hungry rush, at a point within range of the moving picture machine, the angle of which is only twenty degrees, and within this angle he must have his death struggle with the beast and kill it. This was the native's commission, a very tempting piece of work for any man.