Sea Life centres, including Weymouth SEA LIFE Park have declared a ‘Jaws’ amnesty for the duration of European Shark Week…Oct 17th to 30th.
Peter Benchley’s tale of a seaside resort terrorised by a rampaging Great White and the subsequent Spielberg blockbuster were a disaster for sharks, Sea Life marine experts claim.
“For the vast majority who read the book or saw the film, Jaws engendered or reinforced the stereotype of sharks as mindless man-eaters,” said biologist Rob Hicks.
“Shark conservationists are still trying to undo the damage more than three decades later, struggling to quell an annual slaughter that has pushed many species to the brink of extinction.”
Ironically many of the scientists working to save them were themselves inspired by Benchley’s creation, says Ali Hood, conservation director of UK-based charity The Shark Trust.
Towards the end of his career Benchley also became a staunch advocate of shark conservation.
Yet Jaws still has the capacity to colour the attitudes of those who read or see it, Sea Life centres believe, and it continues to spawn equally damaging successors like the recently released shocker Shark Night 3D.
So anyone delivering a copy of the book or any of the Jaws films on video or DVD when they visit a centre next week will get a free return ticket.
“We’ll find the most eco-friendly way of destroying or recycling them,” said Rob Hicks.
All eleven UK Sea Life attractions will be hosting a range of shark-related activities next week, from special quiz trails and talks to smell like a shark experiences.
They will also be getting visitors to sign a petition urging Governments to ban the removal of shark fins at sea to reduce fishing quotas of sharks and rays and to introduce protective legislation for the most threatened species.
“Tens of millions of sharks are killed annually, either as by-catch or taken to have their fins hacked off for shark fin soup,” said Hicks.
“Many species take years to mature and are being slaughtered before they have chance to reproduce,” he added.
“The numbers are totally unsustainable, which is why around a third of the 500-plus species around the world are already seriously endangered.”