Catching 8-foot long sharks by hand

Thor Heyerdahl risked all by crossing  3,770 nautical miles of Pacific Ocean—without escort—in a balsa wood raft with five men to prove that the Polynesians could have descended from people originally living in what is now Peru. And to make sure that 101 days on a raft would not get boring, he invented shark tail pulling as Heyerdahl describes in his book, Kon-Tiki, below.

Pulling animals’ tails is held to be an inferior form of sport, but that may be because no one has tried it on a shark, For it was, in truth, a lively form of sport.

To get hold of a shark by the tail we first had to give it a real tidbit… if one holds out a large dolphin (NOTE: Heyerdahl is referring to a dolphin fish, not the marine mammal) … the shark comes up and smacks his jaws together, and, without one’s having felt the slightest tug, half the dolphin is suddenly gone and one is left sitting with a tail in one’s hand…

When the shark turned quietly to go under again, its tail flickered up above the surface and was easy to grasp. … inside the upper point of its tail there was an indentation which might have been made solely to allow for a good grip…

…with violent jerks it swung its head round and up on to the logs, and then we had to tug with all our might and jump well out of the way, and that pretty quickly, if we wanted to save our legs. For now the shark was in no kindly mood. Jerking itself round in great leaps, it thrashed at the bamboo wall, using its tail as a sledge hammer. Now it no longer spared its iron muscles. The huge jaws were opened wide, and the rows of teeth bit and snapped in the air for anything they could reach.

As far as I know, Heyerdahl did not try anything similar with crocodiles on Ra or Ra II.

About Robert Moss

I write ads: traditional, non-traditional, interactive, edutainment, story-based, broadcast, and experiential marketing events. Sometimes I write about ads and the business of advertising. Sometimes I write about other stuff. The views expressed here are solely my own and don't reflect the views of my employers. I also published a novel called Descending Memphis that's getting great reviews on Amazon. see
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