Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws tells a story about a shark that is out for vengeance. It hunts down and kills people. This doesn’t happen in real life, but the film’s negative depiction of sharks seemingly played a role in the rush in sportfishing for the mighty creatures, and it’s something that Spielberg regrets.
Speaking to the BBC, Spielberg said he is sorry for playing a role in the “decimation” of shark populations due to the film, and the book it was based on.
“That’s one of the things I still fear–not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sport fisherman that happened after 1975, which I truly, and to this day, regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I really, truly regret that.”
The author of the Jaws book, Peter Benchley, previously commented on how his popular novel wasn’t fair to how sharks actually behave in the wild. “What I now know, which wasn’t known when I wrote Jaws, is that there is no such thing as a rogue shark which develops a taste for human flesh,” Benchley said in 2000.
In 2006, Benchley said in an interview that he could “never write that book today,” knowing what he now knows about shark behavior.
Sharks do, of course, attack and kill humans from time to time, but such incidents are exceedingly rare. A study said global shark populations have fallen by more than 70% in the past 50 years.
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