On June 29, 2016, The Shallows will make its way to theatres as a wide release blockbuster starring Blake Lively. The film revolves around a beautiful young surfer girl who is attacked by a shark while she is out catching waves, or whatever it is that surfers say. Injured, Lively’s character makes it to a rock in the shallows (omg the movie title!) where the hungry shark continues to circle, trying to finish what it started.
I’m not someone who typically goes out and makes a big fuss about how animals are portrayed in films but I’m so incredibly annoyed with this.
I enjoy silly movies like Sharknado and the version of the crazed man-eating shark in those films because it is SUPER DUPER IMPOSSIBLE for a “sharknado” to actually happen and to produce sharks that want to kill you via deadly twister. Probably. However, The Shallows perpetuates a stereotype in sharks that is incredibly dangerous to them and subsequently to us.
Sharks are a vital part of the ecosystem. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs roamed the earth… they are technically speaking, ACTUALLY DINOSAURS and have seen some REAL SHIT GO DOWN. They are at the top of the ocean’s food chain and effectively manage the numbers of the fish in the ocean. The number of fish that exist at any given time help give balance to the system so that everything thrives the way that it should. They have numerous other roles as well, but this one is one that keeps our oceans healthy and therefore us. We NEED the oceans for the earth to survive.
When Jaws was released back in 1975, it set off a mass hysteria that saw countless sharks killed out of fear and ignorance. People didn’t kill sharks out of necessity or self-defense; they actively hunted them down and proudly displayed what they had done.
To this day, people remain afraid of oceans because of sharks when it should be the other way around. Sharks are for the most part, very rarely aggressive towards humans. Almost all cases of shark attacks are found to be cases of mistaken identity (ie. Surfers are mistaken for seals while paddling on their boards). Like any predator, sharks are dangerous but it’s all about being educated about their behavior and if you’re going to swim in THEIR ocean, knowing how to read it.
I realize that this may be a weird and random PSA to go on a geek web site that’s typically geared to hyping you up about things, but I’m so passionate about the ocean in many different ways and it genuinely bothers me to think that people will continue having a fear of these magnificent creatures because of how they’re portrayed in films. I implore you that if you’re planning on watching The Shallows, that you also check out Sharkwater, which is a brilliant documentary that highlights things you should love about sharks as well as some of the blights on them, like how they’re hunted solely for their fins, for a tasteless soup that’s considered a delicacy around the world.
Shark Week and other nature documentaries such as Planet Earth and Life highlight fascinating things about sharks as well that I recommend you check out if you already have a fear. Oceanic Ramsey is an amazing oceanographer that I follow on Instagram and scroll through her feed CONSTANTLY. She’s a diver that has dedicated her life to helping sharks and helping to educate people ABOUT sharks. Her journeys provide amazing insight and the photos of her relationship with the creatures in the ocean ALONE are worth checking out.