Real-Life 'Return of Jaws' May Be Scarier Than Fiction
Curly, an Atlantic great white shark. At 18 feet in length, Curly is one of the largest sharks ever seen.
At one time or another, "Jaws" has had most of us afraid to go swimming in the ocean. Fortunately, the fact that it's just a movie and that actor Robert Shaw didn't actually get eaten and that the shark's name was Bruce allowed most of us to get over our fear.
We regret to inform you that Discovery's latest Shark Week entry, "Return of Jaws," is about to bring all that back Monday, 8/5 at 9 PM.
Filmed along the coast of Cape Cod (near the fictional town of Amity where "Jaws" takes place), the "summer home of the great white shark in the Atlantic" according to marine biologist Greg Skomal, the area is the site of the first confirmed shark attack in 76 years in 2012. With shark numbers on the decline, why are shark sightings (more than 40 last year) there on the rise?
Federal protection of the gray seal has caused a rise in their population which, to a great white shark, means somebody just opened an all-you-can-eat buffet all along the New England coast. This is bad news for swimmers who, though they're not generally on shark menus, often bear an unfortunate resemblance to chubby gray seals and are attacked by mistake.
The hope for Skomal and company is that they will gather new information about the predatory behavior of the great whites in hopes of preventing future attacks on humans. The footage from the sub as it follows the shark for hours — at a distance of only a few feet — is groundbreaking and the data they gather on its route up the coast is both illuminating and frightening. At one point, Skomal prepares to send out an alert to clear a lagoon (which also bears an unfortunate resemblance to the one where the chief's son gets attacked in "Jaws") as the shark closes in on swimmers.
So how does the documentary measure up to the movie? Here's a quick breakdown:
SIZE: The shark in "Jaws" is about 25 feet long, larger than any actual great white ever recorded. The sharks that get tagged in "Return" are 17-18 feet — not record-breaking, but still big enough to inspire a few sleepless nights.