Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday
Photo by Jason Washington
Tiger sharks are more bizarre than people think! Aside from interesting facts regarding the species, one particular individual started in its own murder mystery!
Weighing 1300 pounds or more and growing up to 15 feet, the tiger shark is the fourth largest shark on earth. They’re also known as swimming garbage disposals! They have very broad diets; they eat everything from albatrosses, venomous sea snakes, and other sharks to man made objects like paint cans, leather jackets, rubber tires, and even license plates. Even though their name has “tiger” in it, not all of them have stripes. Baby tiger sharks are covered in roundish gray spots that fuse into stripes as the sharks mature. After a certain age the stripes start to fade and they’re barely visible in full-grown adults. If you could pry open a tiger shark’s jaws, you’d see teeth with dramatic notch tips that point sideways. You'd also notice that the teeth on the left and right halves look like mirror images of each other.
And maybe the most bizarre fact of all.. One individual tiger shark found itself in the middle of a murder mystery! In April 1935, Coogee Aquarium in Sydney, Australia was looking for a big fish to occupy its newly-built pool. On a fishing trip off Coogee beach, Bert Hobson snared a 13-foot tiger shark for the aquarium. The shark was a big hit at the aquarium, but it didn’t last very long. Seven days after its arrival, it got sick and vomited up a bird, a rat, some nasty-looking brown goo—and a human arm, which had a rope tied around its wrist and a forearm tattoo of two boxers. An amateur boxer named James Smith had recently gone missing, and he had the exact same tattoo on one arm. Forensic analysis determined that the arm hadn’t been bitten off—it had been removed from the rest of Smith's body with a knife. Detectives learned that Smith was last seen playing cards at the Hotel Cecil in Cronulla with his longtime associate Patrick Brady, a forger, who quickly became the number one suspect. The authorities were later informed by a boat-builder (and suspected criminal) named Reginald Holmes that Brady had murdered Smith in an argument. But before Holmes could testify in court, somebody shot him. Brady's lawyers argued that a severed arm didn’t constitute proof of a murder. Smith, they argued, might still be alive somewhere—sans one limb, of course. Brady got off scot-free, which was more than could be said for the poor tiger shark—it died in captivity. A necropsy did not reveal any other human remains.