Luhan Meyer horses around with Brutus, an eight-foot-long shark the Port Alberni youth made with recyclable materials from home. The shark’s teeth are made of plastic picnic forks. A lot of them. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Luhan Meyer horses around with Brutus, an eight-foot-long shark the Port Alberni youth made with recyclable materials from home. The shark’s teeth are made of plastic picnic forks. A lot of them. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Shark ‘discovered’ in Sproat Lake

Alberni youth’s fascination with sharks led to home-based science project

For Luhan Meyer of Port Alberni, every week is shark week.

“I’m fascinated with sharks,” says the 10-year-old, who lives with his family at Sproat Lake and homeschools with Heritage Christian School.

He is so enthralled with the giant marine fish—the Great White is his favourite species—that he built an eight-foot-long replica shark this past summer and launched it in the lake.

“It was a science project for school,” said his mother, Karen Meyer. It took Luhan six days to build it, with assistance from his parents. Some of the reclaimed and recycled material that went into the model included a trash can for his body, wood, metal, a plant pot to bolster the tail, a cutting board for the mouth, plastic picnic knives for rows of teeth and lots and lots of duct tape.

“We sculpted the face with chicken wire and we bolted it onto a garbage can,” Luhan Meyer said. He researched videos online for ideas on how to craft the mouth and head.

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“You can see we used a lot of zip ties…and pool noodles.”

Meyer named his shark Brutus, or Bruce for short (this was the nickname of the one-ton mechanical shark used to film the blockbuster movie Jaws. The movie-based shark was named Bruce after director Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer).

Meyer discovered Jaws when he was five years old, and persuaded his parents to let him watch it. He watches whatever documentaries, videos and movies that he can find. “They’re very misunderstood,” he said. After the first Jaws movie came out, Meyer said many sharks were killed because people thought they were bloodthirsty. That isn’t the case except in rare circumstances, he added.

“If a shark takes a bite of a human they just let go of the human.”

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was adapted from writer Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel of the same title.

Benchley’s story was in turn inspired by a couple of real-life events: in 1916, four people died of shark attacks off the coast of New Jersey coastline in a two-week period. It was later determined to be the same shark, according to various news reports. Also, Frank Mundus’ capture in 1964 of a 1555-kilogram (3,427-pound) great white shark 45 kilometres (28 miles) off Montauk, New York inspired the character Quint in Jaws.

Meyer said the first of the three Jaws movies is the best, and it is his favourite of all the shark movies he has watched (The Meg, a 2018 science fiction action film about a megalodon shark, comes a close second).

Meyer waited until July 1 to introduce Bruce to the water outside his home. He was elated to find that Bruce floated, and he spent the long weekend swimming with him. While it’s too cold to go swimming at Sproat Lake now, Bruce is hanging out in Meyer’s house, lying in wait for next summer.

Watching all the Jaws movies has not deterred Meyer from swimming in open water. In fact, when he is old enough he wants to go swimming with sharks. The family tried during a trip to South Africa when Meyer was eight, but he was told he was too young—he’ll have to wait until he is 12.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictGreat White SharksPort AlberniSixgill shark

 

Luhan Meyer uses zip ties to attach picnic knife teeth to his homemade shark. The Port Alberni 10-year-old created the shark using materials from home. (PHOTO COURTESY KAREN MEYER)

Luhan Meyer uses zip ties to attach picnic knife teeth to his homemade shark. The Port Alberni 10-year-old created the shark using materials from home. (PHOTO COURTESY KAREN MEYER)

Luhan Meyer checks his eight-foot-long homemade shark ‘Brutus’ for any rips in his tarp skin before launching him into Sproat Lake on Canada Day. (PHOTO COURTESY KAREN MEYER)

Luhan Meyer checks his eight-foot-long homemade shark ‘Brutus’ for any rips in his tarp skin before launching him into Sproat Lake on Canada Day. (PHOTO COURTESY KAREN MEYER)

Luhan Meyer and ‘Brutus,’ the eight-foot-long shark he created out of recycled materials from home, go for a swim in Sproat Lake on July 1, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY KAREN MEYER)

Luhan Meyer and ‘Brutus,’ the eight-foot-long shark he created out of recycled materials from home, go for a swim in Sproat Lake on July 1, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY KAREN MEYER)