Idea Of The Day

How Sharks Bring an End to Summer

The shark attacks in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws occur around the Fourth of July holiday, but it’s August that has become semiofficial shark month. Who can remember an August without the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” or a rerun of a Nova special on man-eaters of the deep? One could be led to believe that these shows, as well as others, were a conspiracy fomented by parents and TV producers to get children out of the ocean and ready for the start of school. And August wouldn’t be August without the presence—somewhere—of Peter Benchley, whose novel was the basis for Spielberg’s movie and whose name has become synonymous with Great White—and, if you’re a kid, the end of summer. Only yesterday, Benchley was on duty, offering these words to the St. Petersburg Times after a cluster of sharks were seen off Tampa Bay. “We don’t just fear our predators, we are transfixed by them. In a deeply tribal way, we love our monsters. … Generally, it’s a safe fear. [Sharks are] not going to come get you in your house. You have to go into the ocean. It’s not going to strike you in the middle of a field like lightning.”  

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