Steven Spielberg Regrets Impact of ‘Jaws’ on Declining Shark Populations

“I still fear … that sharks are somehow mad at me,” the “Fabelmans” director said

Steven Spielberg Jaws
"Jaws" director Steven Spielberg (Universal/Getty)

Despite the status of “Jaws” as one of the preeminent classics of all time, its director Steven Spielberg said he “truly” regrets the thriller film’s impact on the decimation of shark populations.

“I still fear … that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sword fishermen that happened after 1975,” the director of “The Fabelmans” said in a recent interview with BBC Radio released Sunday.

“I truly and to this day regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film,” he added.

Since 1970, the abundance of oceanic sharks and rays has declined by more than 70% as a result of an 18-fold increase in fishing pressure, according to a Nature study conducted last year. As a result of the depletion, the risk for global extinction now impacts three-quarters of the species. Per a New York Times report, marine biologists estimate that there is a “very small window” to save shark populations. While several conservationists assigned partial blame to the film, calling it a “turning point,” sharks are mainly endangered via commercial fishing and for use of shark fin soup, rather than sport fishing.

Spielberg’s comments echo those of Benchley’s, who — prior to his death in 2006 — became a shark conservation who expressed regret at portraying the species as bloodthirsty and out for revenge. “Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today,” the author, who also co-wrote the screenplay, said at the time. “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.”

Based on Peter Benchley’s book of the same name, the 1975 pic follows a group of New England beach town residents who hunt a great white shark that’s terrorizing swimmers. The adventure flick went on to surpass 1972’s “The Godfather” as the highest-grossing film of all time, later overtaken by 1977’s “Star Wars.”