Despite its release almost 40 years ago, John Williams’ famous soundtrack to the hit film Jaws still provokes a deep feeling of fear for the magnificent Great White Shark. For the first time in cinematic history, audiences were confronted with the idea that an animal could ruthlessly eat them whole; and perceptions changed forever. Experimental Psychology students can investigate the importance of fear as an emotion and the physiological responses that it evokes.
Biology students and those with a conservation interest in subjects such as Geography can also note that years on, the author of Jaws Peter Benchly commented that had he known the effect of his book, he would not have written it today. The number of large sharks among the eastern seaboard of North America did decline after the release of the film, in part due to humans seeing the value of ‘blue collar fishing’ and the trophy nature of these animals. More important, however, is the hundreds of sharks killed each year for their fins, an Asian delicacy meaning that there are far more Man-Eaten sharks than Man-Eaters.
Veterinary Medicine or Biological Natural Sciences students may also show interest in the reasons behind the very rare but often disastrous attacks on human. They have more senses such as pressure sensitive pores which means they can detect the slightest changes in pressure; given that they are so highly-tuned, it is less likely that they are eating humans as food, but more likely that they see us as fellow predators, competing for food.