In Australia, at the Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Bath in Sydney, a tiger shark made headlines in 1935 when it vomited up a human arm in the middle of a watching crowd.
Shark vomited human arm, scares aquarium visitors
Days before the event, Bert Hobson, brother of Charles, the aquarium’s owner, was out fishing three kilometers off Sydney’s Coogee Beach when he happened to catch a tiger shark.
Hobson brought the four-meter animal to his brother’s aquarium.
A week later, on April 25, 1935, Bert Hobson announced the tiger shark’s grand appearance in the middle of an aquarium full of people excited to witness the event.
After a few minutes and in the middle of the spectacle, the shark began to make sudden movements, to throw itself against the glass of the tank and to swim in circles faster and faster.
Suddenly, in the middle of a dense foam that visitors described as reddish and black, the shark vomited a bird, followed by a rat and, finally, a human left arm, which was identifiable until the foam dispersed into the water.
The arm had a distinctive tattoo of two boxers in a ring and a rope tied to the wrist. However, it was free of bite marks from the shark.
Aquarium evicted indefinitely
The aquarium was immediately evacuated and closed indefinitely, while an investigation was carried out to explain the event.
A few days later, after a photograph of the tattoo was made public, police received a call from the brother of James Smith, a boxing bookie, thief, police informant who had been missing for several weeks, and owner of the arm inside the shark.
Investigating Smith’s last movements, police arrested Patrick Brady, the man with whom James spent his last day of life, blaming him for his murder.
However, Brady singled out Reginald Holmes, with whom Smith worked to smuggle drugs from passing ships, for questioning by the police.
Holmes then took one of his boats and engaged in a chase with the police, where he shot himself in the head and managed to survive. When he was taken to the hospital and checked, he said he was attacked at his home and mistook the police for burglars, which is why he tried to flee.
A night before the trial, Holmes was found lifeless with three gunshots in his body, leading to speculation that he had hired a hit man and committed suicide.
Due to the absence of the ‘star’ witness, the case was closed shortly thereafter, because Brady’s lawyer claimed that an arm cannot prove that murder was committed.
Thus, Brady was released without any conviction and James Smith’s body was never located.