in 1916 a series of shark attacks occurred along the New Jersey shore that killed four people and seriously injured one more. They are widely crediting with igniting the American public's fear of sharks, and sometimes for having partly inspired Benchley to write Jaws. Brody and Hooper in fact mention it in the film ("Jersey Shore...1916...five people chewed up in the surf!")
The shark responsible was often pegged as a juvenile great white, about seven or eight feet in length. Recent research places the lifespan of the white shark at up to seventy years. If the shark was eight feet long in 1916, it would have been only a few years old, still a juvenile. By 1975, it would have been reaching the end of its lifespan and absolutely massive, perhaps approaching the 25 feet in the film.
In one of the drafts of the screenplay, Hooper reveals that the shark is a man-eater on a global scale, killing swimmers from South Africa to Australia. It's possible it left the eastern seaboard years ago in 1916, and has been cruising the world eating people ever since, only now returning to its old stomping grounds for the grand finale.
It seems a strange coincidence that the first summer Brody serves as chief of police in Amity would see a rogue shark just happen to wander into Amity's waters. And when Brody's being pressured to report Chrissie's death as a boating accident, the phrase "It's happened before" seems ominous. Also, that tiger shark they catch is a man eater and "extremely rare for these waters"; another coincidence that there were two rare maneating rogues in those waters and they caught the wrong one.
Or was the tiger shark planted to get caught and calm people back down?
Perhaps when the shark first appeared, the town lost a fortune and a number of lives trying to kill it; eventually, to protect tourist dollars, they just developed a cycle of keeping deaths mysterious and then, when that eventually fails, "killing" the shark. It was just the unfortunate combination of a series of unusually high-profile attacks and a meddlesome new chief of police that finally made the system fail.
- This sounds a lot like the plot of Hot Fuzz.
- So what you're saying is that the shark was eating the citizens of Amity for the greater good?!
- The greater good....
- SHUT IT!!
- The greater good....
Exposure to the massive radiation not only gave the shark a prolonged lifespan, but also made it bigger, faster, and definitely stronger (strong enough to drag flotation barrels underwater). Also, Quint was the only surviving crew member of the USS Indianapolis. Seeing as how the crew were responsible for delivering the Hiroshima bomb, Steven Spielberg wanted to give Quint a Karmic Death by having the shark kill him during the climax.
- Quint's story did not place him as the only survivor—nor, I think, did history.
- 317 Sailors and Marines survived the loss of the Indianapolis, out of 1196. Additionally, it's a bit of a stretch to call it a Karmic Death when Quint would have been an 18-year-old Seaman who had no idea what the hell was in that big crate lashed to the foc'sle. Even Captain McVey had only a very vague idea of what the bomb was. The darker implications of nuclear weapons were very poorly understood at the time; even its designers saw it as just a really powerful explosive.
While it's true that sharks have gone on month-long maneating sprees in the past, it's unlikely that so many sharks would be like this. It's possible that, in the Jaws Universe, a disease somewhat similar to rabies is going through the Great White population, causing them to become highly aggressive.
- Hang on, don't sharks have one of the best health records in the animal kingdom?
- Most of that health record is exaggerated or came from dubious studies. For instance, sharks can still get cancer and are common targets of parasites (especially species like the Greenland shark).
- But then where's the Frickin Lasers on their heads?
- Budget cuts.
- To be even more precise, the shark infected there was the tiger shark that was caught earlier in the film. It and Jaws had gotten into a fight offscreen (maybe over the remains of the first victim), and the infection was passed that way.
- So, who saved America from the main zombie invasion?
They aren't extinct. They just usually spend their time too deep for humans to find. There's a breeding population nearby, and juveniles are taking advantage of the shallower waters near the town until they're big enough to hold their own against the adults. That's why there's enough sharks for the sequels.
- This actually gets (vaguely) alluded to in the novel. Hooper actually refers to the shark in the novel as "Damn near Megaladon." Quints dismisses him as crazy, but Brody is aghast at the very idea that the shark could be "just a baby."
- Onrclaims Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws has already been made and released. Exactly how, and when, that reached theaters is anyone's guess. But Jaws 4 could be the sixth movie...
- Cruel Jaws was just an Italian mockbuster, like Snakes On A Train...though I think that one was Mexican.
- Isn't Jaws: The Revenge already "Jaws 4"?
- Oh, they have more power than that. Jaws 3D put one in a marina. Jaws: the Revenge had a shark follow Martin Brody's wife to Bermuda.
And yes, contrary to Urban Legend, sharks do sleep.
- That is the coolest theory I heard. A shark time lord, I mean how is that not awesome?
- Still got fe—FINS!
- Aww, I wanted to be ginger. I've never been ginger!
- Still got fe—FINS!
- This. Is. CANON. AND NO ONE ELSE SAYS OTHERWISE!!
In 2006, however, documents relating to the experiments were found by the the Planeteers, who created a new shark and sent it to take out EnvironPlus. They also had it attack and eat civilians to instill fear in the populace so EnvironPlus employees would quit out of fear in droves. And it worked. It ALL worked.