Since the introduction of the hit movie Jaws in 1975, the Great White shark has captured our imagination and evoked such fear that many beach-goers, for a time, refused to go into the water. Now, with such shows as Shark Week on cable television and the upcoming movie Dark Tide, the Great White continues to be portrayed as a vicious killer with an insatiable appetite. What has this kind of attention done for shark convervation and is this portrayal unfair?
The Great White shark ranks number one for unprovoked attacks but the tiger shark, bull shark, and oceanic whitetip also rank high in attacks. Though sharks are often portrayed as evil killing machines on film and in TV, it is likely that all this attention has raised awareness and the need for shark convervation. As more knowledge is gained from these magnificent creatures, the more we come to realize they are not evil and their numbers are dwindling drastically due to industrial fishing.
Most shows on Shark Week for instance, while sensational to a degree, do favor the opinion that the shark is an endangered species and needs special protection. I remember a series of sensationalistic magazines coming out in the 70's right after Jaws that displayed horrific photos of shark attack victims and terrifying photos of great whites with jaws open to the max. Sure, I was scared to death of sharks as a kid, but now all these years later, that initial exposure enhanced my interest in and knowledge of sharks, helping to inspire me to help them with websites like this one today.
In spite of all the movies and shows negatively depicting sharks, a worldwide movement has developed to save the shark from extinction. We are drawn by its mystery and ability to survive millions of years and minimal evolutionary changes. Perhaps it is because of these movies and shows that we want to save the shark and to preserve its place as the undisputed king of the world's oceans. Perhaps, for the shark, negative attention is better than no attention at all.