It’s December 1957, the height of the tourist season and the middle of the glorious South African summer. Visitors have come to the resorts of the Natal coast in record numbers, offering a financial lifeline for struggling seaside towns. The beaches are packed and the warm waters of the Indian ocean are full of people.

What they don’t know is that the sea is also full of Great White Sharks. Rains upriver have washed the carcasses of drowned cattle into the bay, the waters are murky, and whaling ships have been spotted in the area. In the era before shark nets, nine visitors are attacked, six of them are killed, in terrifyingly short succession. Tourists panic and flee the coast, businesses are on the edge of ruin.

A high school biology teacher and a Zulu fisherman join forces to persuade the authorities to act to¬† protect swimmers and surfers – and the economy. They build enclosures built from wooden poles and netting, both of which are destroyed by the surf. Even the Navy is called in; a frigate drops depth charges which only succeeds in killing fish and attracting more sharks….

Black December is the true story that inspired Jaws.