Monday, July 17, 2017

Julia McWilliams and the Shark Chaser
Julia McWilliams chopped shark meat, let it rot, then squeezed the blood out to mix it with chemicals in order to make shark repellant for sailors who often had to abandon ship after being torpedoed by U-boats during WWII. Many who survived a torpedo blast to their ship were eaten by sharks.

The U.S. Navy commissioned Julia to develop a shark repellant that mimicked the smell of rotten shark flesh, the only thing that chased sharks away.

She developed a slowly melting wax bar infused with the smell of rotting shark flesh.

Named the "shark chaser," the bar became part of every sailor's life preserver, adding a layer of safety and the possibility of survival from shark attacks if they wound up in the open ocean.

The repellant was tested in open waters baited with chum. When the sharks appeared, the repellant chased them away for a long time. As the bar melted, it formed a circle of protection around each sailor.

In 1946, Julia McWilliams, a member of the OSS, was assigned in Paris where she met P. Child whom she married and became Julia Child.

Putting her repellant-making talents to new endeavors, she attended Le Cordon Blu cooking school in Paris and became the most admired household name in the fine art of French cooking. Her famous kitchen can be seen at the Smithsonian.

Julia Child's famous kitchen at the Smithsonian
Photo: Matthew Bisanz
The Navy stopped making the "shark chaser" in 1973.

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