How the Creator of ‘Jaws’ Became the Shark’s Greatest Defender
Peter Benchley wrote a bestselling novel and blockbuster movie—then spent the rest of his career struggling to protect sharks from the stigma that his masterpiece unleashed.
Photos courtesy Peter Benchley
Earlier this summer, thirty-nine years after the release of the blockbuster movie “Jaws,” news outlets everywhere reported a sharp rise in the population of great white sharks in the western Atlantic Ocean.
Yet nobody seemed too panicked by the news.
What a difference four decades can make. During the heyday of “Jaws,” when the film spawned an international panic about sharks, such reports would have sparked pandemonium, clearing the beaches of swimmers. Yet for the past decade, the numbers of great whites off the coast of California have been rising, and no one seems very concerned. That’s likely because the backlash against shark-phobia has gained momentum, and more people are now aware of how truly rare shark attacks are. According to the International Shark Attack File, only four people died in shark attacks in the United States between 2003 and 2008, compared to 108 cattle-induced fatalities.
Yes, cows are more likely to kill humans than sharks.
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