The Great White Shark: What is Fact and What is Fiction?


For years, the great white shark was a source of curiosity and fascination but that was before the movie “Jaws” gave it a bad reputation. Since the movie’s first appearance on the silver screen, people saw something more than a natural predator, they became terrified by what appeared to be a cold blooded killer always on the prowl for human flesh.

The influence of the media

Nowadays, with shark attacks being documented on the internet and by the media, people fear this giant fish even more. It has come to the point where people are even challenging the laws protecting the great white shark which belongs on the endangered species list.

“Jaws”, story or marine biology?

As we already know, Hollywood has a magic touch with special effects and fictitious stories but unfortunately, people often confuse them with reality. It has reached the point where people wonder which part is fiction and which part is reality.

Fact or fiction?

Fact – The largest great white shark ever recorded measured 7 m and weighted approximately 2 tons.

Fiction – “Jaws” does not represent the average size of a great white shark since it was portrayed as being 7m long or more.

Fact – Being carnivorous, great white sharks may attack humans, especially if they confuse them with a seal or if they are challenging them for a fish on a spear gun, for example.

Fiction – The great white shark chases, plans and attacks humans as a cold blooded killer. In fact, its brain does not allow it to think things through, it only reacts by instinct.

Fact – The great white shark is now a protected specie as it is also an endangered specie. What was the reason? Some Asian cultures enjoyed their dorsal fin as a culinary delicacy. Which was the most common prey? It was certainly not humans!

Fiction – On “Jaws”, humans were represented as the usual main course of its daily menu. In fact, the great white shark will often let a human prey go free after tasting it since humans are too bony. If given a choice, a seal will be a better meal.

Fact – The great white shark is one of the three most aggressive shark species involved in attacks on humans. The two other species are the tiger shark and the bull shark.

Fiction – According to the movie, the great white shark is the most dangerous predator of the oceans. An ocean or a sea is home to a huge variety of predators which are only trying to feed themselves for survival purposes.

Fact – You have more chances to die in a car accident or being hit by lightening than by a great white shark. Only a maximum of 60 fatal shark attacks have been recorded on a yearly basis.

Fiction – Every time that someone was either hunting “Jaws” or put as much as a foot in the water, someone ended up on its menu. In fact, the great white shark prefers seals colonies to human ones. That is why when a human is mistaken for its natural source of food, he will often survive as there will most likely not be a second bite.

As you can see, while the great white shark deserves our respect, its reputation has been under attack. There are ways to cohabit in the same world while avoiding hurting each other. While there are several ways that could help preventing a close encounter with a great white shark, confusing fiction with reality will not help anyone.

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