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Facts Shark Movies Actually Got Right

by Piper St. James
  1. Great White sharks do inhabit off the coast of Massachusetts.
    The idea of a Great White shark being found in the waters off of the east coast near Massachusetts is not far fetched at all.  Great Whites are often found off of the coast of Cape Cod, not far from the filming location of Jaws at the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  However they are not there for those enjoying the waves, they are there for the increased seal population.  What people don’t realize is Great Whites are not the only species of shark that live in the Atlantic waters off the coast.  These waters are also home to blues, makos, and blacktips.
  2. Humans cannot out swim sharks.

    In Deep Blue Sea it is stated humans cannot out swim sharks, especially the bigger breeds.  This is absolutely true.  Even the fastest human swimmer can only swim up to five miles per hour without assistance from fins or gadgets, while a shark can swim 22-46 miles per hour.  Bot to mention they can quickly burst after prey.  They only chance you have of out swimming a shark is if the shark doesn’t want to catch you.
  3. Most shark attacks do occur in 5 feet of water or less.

    In Jaws Brody asks Hooper “Is it true most shark attacks occur in less than three feet of water?” and Hooper confirms it is indeed true.  This is the truth in real life.  Most shark attacks on people occur where the most concentration of people are, which is in the shallows.  It’s a numbers game, the more humans gathered in one area creating behaviors that resemble a shark’s prey will increase the chance of someone being attacked.
  4. Sharks can smell blood in water.

    In Deep Blue Sea actress Saffron Burrows distracts a shark by cutting her hand and wafting the blood in the water to attract the shark by luring it with the scent in the water.  Sharks have a very sensitive olfactory system and can indeed smell blood in water, but detecting one drop of blood in the entire ocean is a gross exaggeration.  However, they can detect small amounts of blood in the ocean up to 3 miles away!  This statistic makes Burrow’s live bait distraction very plausible.
  5. Great White Sharks are indeed big.

    Great White sharks are huge, maybe not 25 feet like the shark in Jaws, but still impressively massive.  The largest White recorded in history was captured in 1988 off of the coast of Prince Edward Island measuring just 5 feet short at 20 feet long!  Recently the shark in the picture above was caught on camera in Guadalupe, and is estimated to be over 20 feet long!
  6. White sharks are ambush predators.

    Poor little Alex Kintner never saw the Great White coming in Jaws as he was paddling out into the ocean on his raft.  This is because sharks are ambush predators.  Whites attack from beneath with an upward surge of power and speed, and have uncanny accuracy when grabbing their prey on the water’s surface from bellow.  Even if they don’t catch their prey in their jaws the powerful hit will stun whatever it is they’re aiming for, rendering it weak and easier to catch.  Not only seals and fish are prey to this tactic, but birds swimming on the surface as well!
  7. Watching their prey.

    While sharks ambush their prey, they are also the only species of shark to “spy hop,” which is when they raise their head above the water’s surface to look above the surface.  You may remember one of the most infamous scenes in Jaws where Chief Brody is chumming the water off of the stern of the Orca and the monster of the movie raises his head above the water, making a startling first appearance.  This wasn’t an attack, it was him looking up at the source of the chum and the occupants on the boat he could only see from beneath the water.

Nic Cage in a shark movie based off of Jaws USS Indianapolis Speech?  Read about it here!

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