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10 of the Biggest Myths Found in Shark Movies

by Piper St. James
  1. Blood Thirsty Monsters

    The shark as a species are blood thirsty monsters that enjoy the taste of human flesh, intentionally hunting us as soon as our feet hit the water.  Right?  No.  The activity in the water created by humans such as splashing, swimming, and playing in the surf creates movements that confuse sharks and they commonly mistake us for their normal prey of fish and seals.  Once they grab a hold of us they usually realize we are not their usual prey and let us go, rarely coming back for a second bite.  They simply don’t like our taste and texture.
  2. Deep Trouble

    You are immediately shark “chum” if you find yourself in the ocean with one or more sharks.  Right?  Wrong!  According to studies it has been shown you have a better chance of winning the lottery than being attacked by a shark if you are out in the open ocean surfing.  If you do find yourself in the water with a shark while scuba diving experts say you should maintain eye contact with the shark, it will be less likely to advance on you if they know you see them.  If you are diving with a buddy slowly rise to the surface, back to back. and keeping eye contact with any sharks in the vicinity
  3. Unstoppable Monsters

    Sharks love jumping out of the water to come after humans, no matter what we’re resting on.  Not likely.  Sharks cannot breach out of the water to attack us by intentionally knocking swimmers off of surf boards, body boards, rocks, buoys, and grab onto helicopter skids dragging us into the water.  If we are on a surfboard a shark will strike from beneath, hitting the board with their nose and knocking us off into the water, this is the same method they use to attack seals on the surface of the water.  However, lurching out of the water to take hold of a helicopter skid to bring the copter down into the ocean is not a likely scenario.
  4.   Sharks seek revenge

    Despite what the plot of the Jaws movies may have us believe, especially Jaws 4: The Revenge, sharks do not hold a grudge nor do they seek out or hunt motivated by revenge.  Nor do sharks hunt to kill just for sport, sharks kill to eat.  Period.
  5. Sharks can swim backwards

    The genetically modified sharks in Deep Blue Sea swam backwards to evade being shot by a gun when it was pointed at them.  Sharks cannot swim backwards or even stop suddenly due to their pectoral fins and the fin’s inability to bend backwards like other species of fish.  The inability for the fin to bend limits the movement of a shark to a forward motion only.
  6. Keep Swimming

    If a shark stops swimming it will die.  Sharks breathe through two methods; buccal pumping which is used by some species of sharks today but was used mostly by older species, and ram ventilation which modern sharks use today.  However, if the shark’s muscles aren’t strong enough to pump water from their mouth over their gills then they can’t absorb the oxygen out of the water as it passes by.  This is why many think if a shark doesn’t keep moving it will die, but it is just simply not the case.  Even the older species with buccal pumping can take rest periods from swimming.
  7. Big Dumb Fish

    A shark is a dumb fish that just “swims, eats, and makes little baby sharks.”
    It has been proven by experts over time that sharks have shown intelligence and can learn.  For instance, dive groups who enter waters that are known to be inhabited by shark feed them from rods.  The sharks learn that these people who visit their domain usually have free food and swim near them without fear to eat off of the rods.
  8. Sharks Are Expendable

    After the release of Jaws many believed sharks had to be vanquished from “our” waters and shark hunting became a sport not just for fishermen but for tourists as well.  It was believed sharks were not important to the ocean’s ecosystem, that they were just monsters that had to be disposed of, and they it’s ok if we kill them.  So we did, by the thousands.  We hunted sharks to near extinction in many areas of the world’s oceans.  The same reason we fear sharks, because they are at the top of their food chain, is the exact reason we need them in our waters.  Sharks keep the population of other fish at a balance and in proportion to their ecosystem.
  9. Unstoppable Killing Machines

    Movies will have you believing nothing short of an explosion can kill a shark.  Sadly the truth is much more simplistic than that.  Many sharks are killed each year in fishing nets along with other aquatic wildlife.  If a shark can’t swim it can’t eat, and if a shark can’t swim after a certain period of time certain species will die from oxygen deprivation.
  10. Great White Feeding Frenzy

    Killer shark movies (genetically altered, mutant, and tornado riding sharks aside) will have you believe the only shark that has ever bitten a human being is the Great White.  This simply isn’t true.  In fact, most shark attacks are by smaller sharks who mistake our splashing for food.

Find out more about real life sharks during Discovery Channel’s 2017 Shark Week.  You can find the schedule here!

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