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If Steven Spielberg could go back in time, he never would have gone in the water. Turns out, the Hollywood director has a major regret about one of his best movies. If the filmmaker could do it all over again, he never would have made the movie that made him a household name: Jaws.

In a recent interview on the BBC Radio 4 program Desert Island Discs, Spielberg opened up about the guilt he feels regarding the decreasing shark population. In fact, the director blames his 1975 movie for having this environmental impact.

When the filmmaker made the classic movie, he was only 27 years old. Of course, he had no concept of the impact the film would have on the shark population. Promoted as “The terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No 1 bestseller,” the movie had an instant impact on how humans see sharks—and it certainly wasn’t for the better.

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As Spielberg said, “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 director continued, “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.”

Sharks Aren’t The Vengeful Creatures We Think They Are

The problem that the movie and the book created was portraying sharks as vengeful animals. Since the story revolves around one shark that seems to be intent on hunting certain individuals, Jaws erroneously showed sharks as creatures who are out for humans.

Turns out, Spielberg isn’t the only one with regrets. Just as the filmmaker feels guilty for making the movie, so does the author of the book that inspired the movie.

A few years after writing the book Jaws, Peter Benchley expressed remorse for portraying sharks incorrectly. As he said, “Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today. Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.” In fact, Benchley spent the rest of his life campaigning for the protection of sharks.

The question is, did the movie and book really impact the shark population? The jury is still out on that verdict. Although a global study released by Nature shows that the population of both sharks and rays have decreased by 71% since 1970, it’s unclear if Jaws has anything to do with this impact.

One person who is skeptical of the movie’s impact is Paul Cox, chief executive of the Shark Trust which is a coalition dedicated to shark conservation. As he recently told The Guardian, solely blaming Jaws for the decrease in the shark population is “giving the film far too much credit.”

Regardless of the impact Jaws has made on the shark population, we should all be more mindful about the role we play in the possible extinction of these amazing creatures.

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