Everyone has seen Jaws at least once in their lifetime, it’s like a cult classic at this point. I remember the first time I watched, I made my older brother watch it with me so I wouldn’t be as scared.
Even so, I ended up hiding my face for most of the movie anyway. Yeah, I’m a coward when it comes to scary movies, I admit it. My terror that first time is a bit ironic considering I’m now in college to become a shark biologist. As a future marine conservationist, however, I’m pretty much obligated to tell you that movies like Jaws are extremely harmful to conservation efforts.
People are already afraid of sharks, and fear sells. Just look at all the movies that have come out since Jaws. Films like 47 Meters Down, The Reef, The Shallows, and the newest one coming soon, The Meg. Good movies, sure, but they only contribute to a culture that already inherently fears and hates sharks.
Because of films like these, people are less motivated to conserve shark species that are on the endangered list, less motivated to protect habitats where they live, and less motivated to fund programs to help save them.
A lot of people think we don’t need shark research, that we already know a lot about them. In reality, we actually know very little. For example, only 40 Greenland sharks have ever been seen alive, and all of them were adults. A juvenile has never been seen, and the species was only discovered as recently as the late 1900’s. There is still much to learn about other species as well, and new species are being discovered all the time.
I feel like if people knew more about sharks they might be more inclined to try and save them. For example, you know those soulless empty black pits all the Great Whites in the movies have? Great Whites eyes are actually a deep, royal blue around the black iris. Honestly, they’re very pretty. And Nurse Sharks, called the couch potato of the sea, literally sleep in cuddle piles of up to 40 individuals. If that’s not super cute I don’t know what is (or maybe I’m just a shark nerd idk).
So that’s why I dislike movies like Jaws and 47 Meters Down. They give a false impression of sharks as vicious man-eaters that will eat you if you even step foot in the water, when in reality they’re just really lazy predators that would usually rather eat a seal flipper than anything even remotely human. Save the sharks!