This cult film made an impression, but not only… Les Dents de la mer has lastingly modified the perception of sharks, thereby influencing their protection.
It is undeniably THE quintessential shark movie. Blockbuster dating from 1975, The Jaws didn't just explode the public's expectations… Spielberg's masterpiece also and above all changed the way we go in the water - and think of sharks - forever.
Conservation efforts destroyed by the Teeth of the Sea
Today, more than 40 years after its release, the work has been emulated: more than 100 films on these aquatic animals have been made. And more than 40 years later, the fear of these impressive fish persists... Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) are also worried about the negative impact that films on this marine species have on conservation efforts of an often endangered animal.
Researchers in conservation psychology, the Dr Brianna Le Busque and UniSA Associate Professor Carla Litchfield, therefore embarked on an assessment of how sharks are portrayed onscreen. Conclusion of this groundbreaking study : 96% of films on the subject openly describe them as a threat to humans.
Sensational portrayals in popular media can unfairly influence the way people perceive sharks and undermine conservation efforts.
« Most of the knowledge that people come from movies or news, where sharks are usually presented as something to fear », Explains Brianna Le Busque.
Sharknado, Megalodon ... ever more monstrous sharks
« Since The Dents of the Sea we've seen a proliferation of monstrous shark movies - Open Water, The Megalodon, 47 Meters Down, Sharknado - all openly featuring sharks. like terrifying creatures having an insatiable appetite for human flesh. It is simply wrong », Adds the researcher.
But does humans are also dangerous for sharks ? According to the Australian scientist, humans are much more dangerous for sharks than sharks are for humans. Global shark populations are indeed declining rapidly and many species are threatened with extinction.
The author of the study further asserts that the fear of sharks engendered by all these films is disproportionate to their real threat. This greatly hinders conservation efforts. And moreover often encourages the emergence of potentially dangerous mitigation strategies.
« There is no doubt that the legacy of the Teeth of the Sea lives on, but we need to be mindful of how the films present sharks to capture viewers. This is an important step for debunking shark myths and strengthening shark conservation », Concludes Dr Le Busque. Thus inviting cinema fans to keep in mind that these works are, in part, fictional. The gradual disappearance of sharks, on the other hand, is very real.