Jaws PosterTo some, 40 years in the past seems like a long time. But to others it seems like yesterday. I’m in the latter category. Forty years ago was, of course, 1975, a year plagued by events we’d rather forget. From the fall of Saigon to not one but two assassination attempts on the president, it’s one of those years we’d like to expunge from the historical record.

I, too, have reason to loath 1975, but for a reason less profound. You see, that fateful summer the movie “Jaws” was released. Most look at that movie as a groundbreaking success. It was the first true summer blockbuster, won several Academy Awards and is No. 48 on the American Film Institute’s  100 Years…100 Movies list.

I, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic for one simple reason: I was a Scuba instructor. Soon after the film’s release, the only thing harder than getting folks to enrol in a scuba course was putting toothpaste back in the tube. The film convinced everyone who saw or heard about it that so much as sticking your toe in the ocean was tantamount to suicide. Honestly, during more than one dive that summer, it even had me looking over my shoulder. And, not coincidentally, it was also the year I gave up spearfishing.

What a difference 40 years makes. Today, “Jaws” is regarded more for its kitsch than horror; and the reason for this attitude shift is the topic of Greg Laslo’s feature, “40 years after Jaws: A new reason to be afraid”

To all but the most ignorant, we no longer view sharks as evil predators with an insatiable taste for human flesh. To the contrary, we finally understand it’s not the shark, but man, who has earned the title of the world’s most deadly animal. And as the modern version of “Jaws” – the Sharknado films – has shown, we’ve even matured to the point of laughing at how ludicrous our fears once were.

Forty years ago I never imagined that I would one day see cuddly stuffed-animal sharks adorning the cribs of children, nor lovable cartoon sharks professing, “Fish are fiends, not food.” But if you live long enough I suppose anything is possible. My concern is whether we’ve come to our senses about the importance and majesty of these once-vilified creatures in time to rescue them from our own greed and stupidity; or has the 40-year learning curve been too long to save them? Frankly, the jury is still out.Jaws DVD

Written by Alex Bryiske, taken from the editorial of Dive Training magazine, July 2015

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