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Land Shark in a Wheelbarrow Presents

Historic Portsmouth #355

This rare image shows a dead shark in front of the Appledore Hotel. It shares a wheelbarrow with what appears to be a large cod. We know nothing more about this Victorian photo from the Isles of Shoals Collection, but there are plenty of fish stories to go around. [Continued below]



Celia Thaxter wrote about the “sand-sharks” as long as a boat that frightened the fisherman with their tall fins jutting out of the water. Frequent hotel visitor Dr. Henry Ingersoll Bowditch took a trip to Smuttynose in 1853. Peering over the edge of the boat into the water at Haley’s Cove, according to his journal, he saw “horrid jaws, shark bones & occasionally huge dead bodies of immense sharks that have been killed & thrown as useless by the fishermen to be devoured by the perch that are growing plump & lively.” A year earlier in 1852 writer Nathaniel Hawthorne spotted the dorsal fin of an 8-10 foot shark from his window at the Appledore Hotel. Oscar Laighton, Celia’s little brother (then age 13) fired his gun at the shark from the shore without result. According to Hawthorne, the shark “came so near the shore that he might have been touched with a boat-hook.” Hotel tourists, then as now, were intrigued by creatures living in the surrounding seas. In the 1880s, for example, two whale carcasses were rendered at the Shoals. Oscar Laighton steamed the remaining skeletons and wired their giant bones together as an outdoor display. Today there are exhibits of marine life at Star Island, at the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore, and at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. (Photo courtesy of the Portsmouth Athenaeum)






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Images (c) Portsmouth Athenaeum
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