The 76-year-old Hollywood veteran made his feelings known during a recent interview with the BBC podcast Desert Island Discs. Spielberg was 27 when he made “Jaws” in 1975 and said he looks back with mixed emotions on how popular the movie became.
“I truly and to this day regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film. I really, truly regret that,” the filmmaker said. “That’s one of the things I still fear. Not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sport fishermen that happened after 1975.”
Author Peter Benchley, who wrote the book “Jaws,” previously expressed similar sentiments and has spent time advocating for the protection of sharks, BBC reported.
“Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today,” Benchley said of creating a revenge-seeking shark. “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.”
“Jaws” is a cult classic thriller that follows a team of individuals hunting a man-eating great white shark terrorizing a summer resort town. It stars Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as a marine biologist, and Robert Shaw as a professional shark hunter. The film was mostly shot in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. It won three Academy Awards and numerous other accolades.
Spielberg blames himself and the popularity of “Jaws” for the decline in shark populations, but Paul Cox, chief executive of the Shark Trust in the United Kingdom, said that this explanation is “giving the film far too much credit.”
“The cases of shark population decline are very clearly fisheries overfishing,” Cox said, per The Guardian.
Cox did say he’s happy Spielberg is discussing the issue and bringing attention to it, however.
“For someone with his celebrity to be addressing the challenge of communicating about sharks in a more positive way is very welcome,” he continued.
The Shark Trust executive said “Jaws” resonates with fans because of the mystery surrounding sharks. “It’s a natural fear we have of the unknown. The sea, the marine environment, still has a lot of unknowns,” he explained.