Representation Of Sharks In Films: Jaws And Sharknado
“The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.” These are the opening lines of a book unimaginably iconic, it prompted the making of 4 movies, Jaws written by Peter Benchley. This book is one of Benchley’s many books about the deep blue and what lies there (Gilliam, B. (n.d.).). However, sharks are not all horror and danger like the media portrays. Instead, they are ancient creatures who should be protected by legislation both nationally in the United States of America, but also globally. Sharks are misunderstood predators, which have deep relationships with other animals and sharks alike. Movies like Jaws and Sharknado have stigmatized this wondrous animal. Furthermore, sharks play deep roles in cultural aspects of Hawaiian, Fijian, and Ancient Greek mythology. For these reasons, and several others, the current legislation that protects sharks from finning should be strengthened both nationally and globally
Sharks are virtually ancient, the Smithsonian themselves state that they have been around for around 400 million years, longer than the first species that, “we could classify as “tree”, the now extinct Archaeopteris.” (Nuwer, R. (2012, June 27).). They’ve survived four massive extinctions and have evolved into numerous and fascinating species. However, these amazing creatures have been victimized and misrepresented as bloodthirsty, feeble-minded creatures. However, this is a huge misrepresentation, sharks do not attack just to attack, like all animals they have evolved to survive in their ecosystem, and they use specialized hunting tactics to accomplish just that. A research paper published by The American Naturalist states that, “the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)—exploits the sun when approaching baits by positioning the sun directly behind them.” (Huveneers et al., (2014, October 14).). However, these hunting tactics, like all in the natural world, may be flawed. The Florida Museum, states that the most common shark attack, the “hit-and–run” as they call it, is just a matter of “mistaken identity” (Florida Museum. (2018, February 01).). Humans due to our flashy swimsuits, difficult visibility in the water, and numerous other factors, can easily be mistaken as prey, thus causing an unfortunate attack. This has caused media outrage and stigmatized sharks. Furthermore, Sharknado, 47 Meters Down, and other media outlets have added onto this misrepresentation, picturing sharks as cruel and almost always dangerous predators. This in turn, has caused little support by the government in its legislation. The United States government has been proven lax, although shark finning is illegal in the US, many sharks are still fished in our waters. United States legislation states, “All sharks must be landed with their fins fully or partially attached in a natural way in all federal waters.”, however we are still number seven in shark catching, this is due to the numerous loopholes in the United States’ legislation which allows shark catchers to escape without a scratch. Furthermore, the idea that sharks kill thousands of humans a year are in fact, incorrect. In fact, from the years 2001-2010 there has been 364 fatal dog attacks compared to 11 fatal shark attacks (Dog Attack. (2018, February 01).). Therefore, supporting the fact that sharks are not such mindless killing machines as the media portrays.
Besides sharks misrepresentation, many cultures view sharks as crucial to their traditions and way of lifes. From the Hawaiians to the ancient Greeks, there are many cultures, both modern and ancient, that use sharks