The depiction of the Great White Shark in the movie “The Shallows”

‘The Shallows’ is the latest survival thriller film that features a young Nancy venturing out to the beaches of Mexico to find solace after losing her mother. Despite the dangers of surfing alone, Nancy decides to hit the waves and soak up the son a little bit. Then suddenly she is attacked by a great white shark and swims to safety to a nearby rock in the ocean, 183 metres away from the shore. The film features her fighting for her life as she tries to get away from the menaced predator.

The film definitely missed its mark in terms of timing. Had it been released in the 1970s, capitalising on the success of Jaws, the story would’ve thrived in acquiring the desired spectacle. However, the avid research that has gone into studying Great White Sharks since the release of Jaws calls for concern on the depiction of the great white shark in relation to its real life habitual conditions.

The movie paints sharks to be unrelenting, vicious killers and many shark scientists have further become concerned with the perception of the great white shark population, arguing that it further fuels the decline of the great white shark. After the success of the Jaws movie, people feared and hated sharks. The mischaracterization spawned interest in popularizing the recreational killing of sharks and bred apathy amongst the public regarding the decline of the great white shark as it became an endangered species. Scientists fear that this notion will rise again with the release of this movie.

While extensive research has been conducted on the behavioural patterns of the great white shark, they are not the unrelenting killers that they are painted out to be. Yes, they have to kill to eat but humans aren’t really their type. Sharks primarily feed on fish. Often when sharks attack a human, its unusual that they want to eat them for their lunch meal. Often the sharks mistake humans for their prey as the see them splashing at the surface of the water. They take an exploratory bite then realise that “this isn’t the taste I was looking for”, and then get the heck out of there. The fact that sharks rarely take more than one bite suggests they aren’t satisfied with their choice, and are probably not trying to target us humans.

The movie also features Nancy trying to hide in some jellyfish to protect herself from the shark. Sharks have very tough skin and is covered in what can be viewed essentially as teeth it is very unlikely that they would be affected by stings from Jellyfish it’s covered in what are essentially teeth. In fact, their scales are very similar to teeth. The scales erupt through the skin itself so their skin is pretty tough. Shark reproduction itself features the male actually biting the female in order to hold on. This is where their tough skin is said to evolve from.

The shark in this movie actively hunts down the humans, said to be fueled by malicious revenge on the human population. But in reality, can a shark really hold a grudge? We know that sharks can learn (as with baiting when they associate people with free food) but them to actively be able to hold it in their memory that humans have been “mean” to them therefore they must seek out revenge is high unlikely.

We also need to remember that this is a fictional Hollywood film, and although it may all seem to look true in every sense of the movie, it’s all make believe designed to get people to spend their money to go out and watch the film. Sharks have much more to fear from us than we do from them.