“Jaws” fans are hoping to protect sharks rather than hunt them down by rebuilding Orca — the boat that served as the final showdown between Chief Brody and the great white — and using it as a research vessel in the research and conservation of the sea dogs.
A fundraiser started by the fans called “Return of the Orca” is trying to raise $180,000 to turn a New England lobster boat into a new version of the Orca, which will be used by non-profit ocean conservation group Beneath The Waves for research expeditions in Martha’s Vineyard, which inspired Amity Island in “Jaws.”
Joe Alves, production designer for “Jaws,” will team with production partner Chris Crawford to use the same process they adopted in the 1970s to redesign the boat, using original production designs and footage from the film to make the boat look as much like the original Orca as possible.
Two Orcas were created by Alves for the film, but one was deliberately destroyed for the climactic sinking sequence, while the other fell into disrepair after the movie’s release.
Also teaming on the project is Wendy Benchley, a board member on Beneath the Waves and the widow of Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel “Jaws” is based on.
“The return of the Orca represents an evolution of the mission for which that craft was built,” Beneath the Waves CEO and Chief Scientist Austin Gallagher said. “In the classic film, she was a vessel for destruction. Now she’ll be a part of the preservation and study of the marine world we at Beneath The Waves have been focused on for the last several years in the Northwest Atlantic.”
Costs to redesign the ship and make it ready for expeditions and tours are estimated at $180,000. But if the fundraiser reaches $250,000, the team says they’ll build a bigger boat, increasing the tour capacity to 15 and giving it a proper slip at the Martha’s Vineyard dock. You can check out the campaign’s Indiegogo page here.