Human Reliance on Bees

Humans have been using bees as a resource for ages. Bees are mainly used for honey collection and pollination purposes. Through bees, human society has gained not only honey, which is a valuable source of calories, but also they have gained the ability to grow various fruits and vegetables for human consumption. With these things in mind, it is easy to see how important bees are for human life. Despite this, people have failed to keep bee populations from declining. Ever since World War 2, bee populations in the US and around the world have been constantly and consistently diminishing. There are several reasons for this, most of which revolve around changes in agriculture practices. Another issue currently being explored is the effect of specific pesticides on bees. Bees are an essential part of human life, yet humans are the biggest threat to bees as a whole.

While there is no precise estimate on when humans started utilizing bees as a resource, cave paintings showing things such as honey collection, honeycombs, and bees have been found around the world and can be dated as far back as 40,000 years ago (Wayman). These days, bees that are kept by commercial beekeepers produce honey and then that honey is sold for human use. In some places, like the Dakotas or California, honey production is a large source of income. In addition to this, there are businesses that rent large quantities of bees for pollination purposes. Farmers with a large plot of land filled with crops that are required to be pollinated by bees, such as almonds or grapes, are able to rent colonies of bees. The colonies are stored in boxes, which are transported by truck to the farm. The bees are then released to pollinate the plants, and when this is finished, the bees are loaded back onto the truck and taken back. Each year in the US, over half a billion dollars in pollination fees are collected, and as bee populations continue to drop, these pollination fees are rising (Bond, Plattner, and Hunt PAGE). With this in mind, it makes sense that human society would want the bee population to increase. An increase in the bee population would allow pollination and honey prices to drop, which in turn would allow the prices of certain foods to drop as well. With more food at a lower price, human society as a whole would benefit.

Although renting bees for pollination is profitable, society as a whole benefits more from the act of pollination itself. Without bees, crops such as carrots, cucumbers, apples, onions, broccoli, and cotton would no longer be available. “[Bees] are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world” (“What Would Happen If Bees Went Extinct?”). Bees supply an enormous amount of produce, so without them it may not be possible to sustain the current human population. Without bees, produce would become scarce, and in turn, expensive. In addition, although cotton is not something comes to mind when people think of plants that must be pollinated, it is an exceptionally important crop and it is pollinated by bees. Many of the fabrics that make up clothing are made from cotton, and cottonseed is also fed to cattle. The extinction of bees would result in not only a drop in available clothing, but it could also affect the number of cattle available, further affecting the food supply. With fewer cattle, there would be a decrease in dairy products as well as meat, making the task of feeding the human population even more difficult. With fewer fruits and vegetables, less meat, and fewer dairy products available, it is difficult to imagine that the current human population could be sustained.

It is clear that human life relies heavily on bees, yet each change in agriculture seems to have a negative impact on bees. The bee population started declining around the same time that World War II ended, and during that same time, the first big changes in agriculture was taking place. The first was the switch to synthetic fertilizers. Before World War II, farmers would plant clover and alfalfa as what were called ground cover plants because those plants are natural fertilizers. This was good for the bees because bees are able to feed off of those plants (Spivak). When farmers switched to synthetic fertilizers and stopped planting cover plants, bees could no longer live in farmlands. With only a few crops to choose from, and those suitable food crops only blooming at a specific time of year, it became very difficult for bees to survive in or near farms.

Another change that came with World War II was the use of herbicides. These herbicides kill weeds growing around crops. “Many of these weeds are flowering plants that bees require for their survival” (Spivak). Weeds that could grow alongside crops would provide nutrition for the bees as they passed through parts of a farm that did not have crops that they could feed on. Unfortunately, those weeds are undesirable for farmers because they competed with the crops that the farmers were trying to grow. However, without those weeds, a large area of land that used to be a great place for bees to feed became a food desert.

This problem became even worse as farmers began using more land for only one crop, a practice called monoculture. As farmers started adopting the monoculture practice, they created large plots of land where bees had no plants to feed on unless that one crop that the farmer had planted was in bloom. Even if the farmer planted a crop that bees feed on, it is only in bloom during a specific time of year, leaving the bees without food for the majority of each year. Because of this, bees were no longer able to inhabit farms. For bees, this was a form of habitat loss, which had a serious impact on the bee population as a whole. Now that bees are incapable of living in harmony with farms, farmers are forced to rent bee colonies from commercial beekeepers. Truckloads of bees must be transported in boxes, which is not only stressful for the bees, but also expensive for the farm owner.

These problems became even worse with the introduction of stronger and more versatile pesticides. Pesticides differ from herbicides and insecticides in that they are able to kill not only weeds and insects, but also bacteria, fungi, or other organisms. Pesticides allow farmers to increase crop production by reducing competition with weeds or keeping pests from feeding on the plants, but some pesticides can be harmful to bees. When bees take pollen to their colony as food, at least six different pesticides can be found in each load of pollen that the bee brings back to its hive (Spivak). This means that all of the bees in the colony are being exposed to pesticides. If any ingredient included in the pesticides is particularly harmful to bees, it could potentially harm a large portion of the colony if not the entire colony.

In addition, there is a relatively new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are different from other pesticides in that they move through the plant. Typically, the seeds are coated in the pesticide and as the plant grows, the pesticide continues to move through the plant. Lately there has been a lot of controversy over these pesticides and their potential relation to something called Colony Collapse Disorder. Colony Collapse Disorder is a strange phenomenon in which bees disappear from their hives during the winter. “…although other studies have suggested that CCD-related mortality in honey bee colonies may come from bees’ reduced resistance to mites or parasites as a result of exposure to pesticides, the new study found that bees in the hives exhibiting CCD had almost identical levels of pathogen infestation as a group of control hives, most of which survived the winter. This finding suggests that the neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD” (“Study Strengthens Link…”). While it is not yet clear exactly why these pesticides are affecting bees the way they do, it is generally accepted that they are harmful to bees. Despite this, these pesticides continue to be used throughout the US. In the EU, however, neonicotinoids have been partially banned as a result of concern for bee populations. Unfortunately, several member states have been granting derogations to farmers who wish to use the banned products, which has mitigated the effects of the ban. This ban was only set to last for a short time until how neonicotinoids affect bees is better known.

While it is clear that something needs to be done to protect the bee population, actually fixing the problem will be complicated since it involves not only banning certain pesticides, but also changing current agricultural methods. It was because of bee activists that the EU was able to ban certain pesticides, but derogations for farm owners have allowed the problem to continue. In the US, business is also indirectly involved in politics, and so harmful pesticides will continue to be used. As Ann Cvetkovich said, “…trauma forges overt connections between politics and emotion” (pg 3). As the bee population continues to decline, food prices will rise, and the issue of hunger will cause current agricultural methods to be forced to be reconsidered. Once people are fully aware of how seriously the decline in the bee population will affect them, they will surely fight for a change.

In the past 70 years, the bee population has significantly declined, mostly due to changes in agricultural practice. Fortunately there is still hope for them. As research on pesticides continues, certain classes of pesticides will be banned, allowing the bee population to once again increase. If a time ever comes that the bee population becomes dangerously small, it will not take long to see the effects that a world without bees would have. Such an event would quickly result in changes to human farming methods, and a new appreciation for all that bees do. On a personal level, everyone can help sustain the bee population by planting bee friendly flowers and refraining from the use of pesticides in personal gardens. For everything bees do for humans, they should at least be allowed to remain unharmed as they pollinate peoples’ gardens.

 


 

Works Cited

Bond, Jennifer, Kristy Plattner, and Kevin Hunt. “Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: Economic Insight.” U.S. Pollination-Services Market (2014): n. pag. USDA. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

Spivak, Marla. “Why Bees Are Disappearing.” TED. June 2013. Lecture.

“Study Strengthens Link between Neonicotinoids and Collapse of Honey Bee Colonies.” Harvard School of Public Health. Harvard University, 19 May 2014. Web. 01 May 2015.

Wayman, Erin. “Humans, the Honey Hunters.” Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian, 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

“What Would Happen If Bees Went Extinct?” BBC Future. BBC, 03 May 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Human Interaction with Bees

In my final paper, I will explore the interactions between humans and bees. I plan to focus on the relationship between human civilization and the bee population and analyze how they affect each other intentionally as well as unintentionally. In general, humans are the ones who benefit most in this relationship, and yet many people are unaware of the current problems that bees face. Ever since World War 2, bee populations nationwide have been falling.

Bees are very profitable in places that produce a lot of honey, like the Dakotas and California. They are also profitable to business that rent bees for farmers with crops such as almonds and grapes. Each year in the US, over half a billion dollars in pollination fees are collected (USDA). As bee populations continue to drop, these pollination fees are rising (USDA). With these things in mind, it makes sense that human society would want the bee population to increase. An increase in the bee population would allow pollination and possibly honey prices to drop, which in turn would allow prices of certain foods to drop as well. With more food at a lower price, human society as a whole will benefit.

Farms have more of an affect on bees than just that, though. Many pesticides are toxic to bees. A few of these highly toxic pesticides have been banned in the US, but not all of them. One family of these pesticides are neonicotinoids. Studies have shown that these pesticides are addictive and harmful to bees (The Guardian). There has been a lot of controversy over whether or not these pesticides are truly harmful to bees, but the European Union has decided to put a two year long ban on some of these pesticides. Unfortunately, certain member states have been allowing their farmers to continue the use of those pesticides, undermining the benefits of the ban (EurActiv). After the two-year ban, the EU is planning to reevaluate the effects of the pesticides and decide whether or not to allow their use.

Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of pesticides, studies are showing that their very well may be a link between neonicotinoids and the more recent declines in the bee populations. It is strange to see that people are willing to continue using these products despite the fact that bees are an extremely important aspect of our lives. Keeping pesticide companies in business is not as important as being able to feed future generations.

Bees and humans also affect each other on a much smaller scale. Besides the benefits of using bees as a technology for business, bees also allow for pollination of personal and community gardens. Despite this, when people see a bee hive near their house, they tend to poison the bees and burn the hive. While bees are an important part of the garden, people fear being stung and so they see the bees as threats to their families. In reality, those bees are doing nature a favor and should be protected.


USDA – http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1679173/special-article-september_-pollinator-service-market-4-.pdf

The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/22/bees-may-become-addicted-to-nicotine-like-pesticides-study-finds

EurActiv – http://www.euractiv.com/sections/agriculture-food/bee-activist-eu-ban-neonicotinoids-undermined-national-derogations-308578

Reflection on Bees

For my final paper, I am going to write about bees. I first became interested in bees after finding out about their population decline. Bee populations have been declining since the end of World War 2. Bees are extremely important because they pollinate many plants that give us the fruits and vegetables we use to provide sustenance to our population. In addition, I find it interesting that people generally transport bees to the place where they pollinate plants, and then the bees are taken back to wherever they usually live. I was a bit shocked to find out about this process because I always had assumed that bees were a common enough animal that they could pollinate our plants without any extra help from humans. I imagine being transported in boxes is extremely stressful for the bees, and it also adds cost for the people that have to rent those bees. It seems like the most simple solution is to do more to protect the bees, so I was shocked that more is not being done. By writing my final paper on this topic, I hope to learn more about the relationships between humans and bees. By understanding how we interact with each other, I hope to come closer to finding a way to live in peace with bees.

Part of the reason I feel the way I do about bees is probably due to my interest in nature. I have always been interested in the different ecosystems on our planet and I have always felt the need to protect those ecosystems. I had never heard about the problem with bees until I lived with a girl who is an environmental science major. She had done a poster project on bees, and she told me about the current situation that we have put bees in. I was shocked that I had not already known about this problem. Since this problem is so important for human society, I imagined that people would be talking about the issue more. Without bees, many people will likely starve, and I think people should be more concerned about that. Bees give us so many foods, and as a society we rely heavily on those foods. Without bees, we would not only lose foods like watermelon, strawberries, and apples, but we would also lose coffee, broccoli, and carrots (HoneyLove.org). Lately there has been more concern due to Colony Collapse Disorder, but even still I believe that this issue should be at the front of everyone’s mind.

Awareness about this topic is extremely important because many people tend to view bees as a pest. People kill bees out of fear of being stung and even poison bee hives found near their homes. In reality, bees are not pests at all and benefit human life immensely. Without bees we would not be able to produce as much food, and hunger would become an even bigger issue than it already is. We would also miss out on many foods that we enjoy. Protecting bees does as much for us as it does for them, so we should do everything we can to keep them safe.

http://honeylove.org/list-of-food/

Bees Outline

Introduction:

  • Explain reasons bees are struggle bussing
    • Climate change
    • Pesticides
      • Some illegal in other countries allowed in US
    • List off some things that bees give us
      • Tomatoes
      • Carrots
      • Strawberries
    • Thesis statement: Despite the fact that bees are an extremely important part of human life, people fail to fully grasp the danger that we cause bees, and fail to fight for a change.

How we use bees:

  • Plant pollination
    • Bees are transported specifically to pollinate plants for people growing things like tomatoes which require bees
    • Beekeepers bring bees on trucks to farms to pollinate and then put them back in the trucks and leave
      • This must be extremely stressful for the bees
    • Honey
      • Some bees are kept by bee keepers to cultivate honey
    • That one antibiotic
      • There is an antibiotic that bees use that people get from the bees somehow
      • I cant remember the name but it begins with P and the bees get it from resin on leaves and take it home to keep the hive healthy
    • California
      • They make a lot of money off of bees
        • I will find some statistic about how much money California is making on bee slavery

How we react to bees:

  • fear of bees
    • we teach children to be afraid of the bee’s sting
    • Many people will flail around and scream if they see bees around
    • People try to kill bees out of fear
    • People remove hives near their house by poisoning or destroying the bee hive in another fashion

What we do to bees:

  • Humans cause pollution
  • Since 1945 honey bee population has nearly halved (TED)
    • During WWII we started using synthetic fertilizer instead of plants that are good for bees
  • Pesticides go home with bees when they collect food (TED)
  • “Neonicotinoids are killing bees at an exceptional rate” (collective-evolution.com)

Whats next:

  • people saw bee movie and so they are getting more okay with bees
  • People need to learn what they will be missing without bees in order to love the bees
  • Colony collapse disorder has brought attention to bees

What can we do:

  • Reverse climate change
    • stop pollution
    • no deforestation
  • stop using pesticides
    • pesticides banned in other countries should be banned in the united states as well
    • I think I read somewhere that the United States is basically the worst ever when it comes to pesticides
  • The first two are big tasks, so on a personal level we can plant flowers
    • planting bee friendly flowers in your yard can help a bee
    • if a bee is feeling lethargic it can eat from your flowers and maybe the bee will live
    • Similarly, ive seen little keychains that have bee food on it

Conclusion:

  • Bees are good and we really really need them
  • People are bad
  • If the bees die they will take us with them
    • “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” – Albert Einstein maybe said this. No one knows for sure.

Sources

TED – http://www.ted.com/talks/marla_spivak_why_bees_are_disappearing?language=en#t-382963

Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulrodgers/2014/09/09/einstein-and-the-bees-should-you-worry/

Our Class Archive of Essays

Our class archive is interesting because although it covers a wide range of topics, the blog posts are connected by some common theme from that week. Sometimes the same person posts about one topic repeatedly, while other topics are shared between authors. For example, multiple different authors have written about different aspects of video games, while another author often writes about different aspects of music. By looking at the blog posts, its easy to see what topics are interesting to the students of the class as a whole, as well as what a specific person is interested in.

The topics that have appeared most are ones that are more recent issues, such as social media and how individuals are portrayed online. This makes a lot of sense since social media is still a relatively new thing and it affects most peoples’ lives in one way or another. The majority of the people within the average age range of the class are using social media, so there are many issues surrounding that topic that are important to the students of the class. When a specific topic is repeated often by different authors, it shows that the topic is an important one for the students in the class. While the class is made up of a diverse group of students, in general, students are within the same age range and many have been living in Ohio for most of their lives, or at least a few years. By looking at what the students in the class are talking about, it gives a good general idea of what science and technology related topics are important to this demographic of people.

Another interesting aspect of our blog is how the topics discussed in class appear on the blog. Sometimes, the focus of the blog post has been something specific that the class has read or discussed, so it makes sense for different blog posts to mention that reading, but other times a specific topic appears in blog posts even though it is not required to be mentioned. A good example of this is that there were a few posts added about the apocalypse after that topic was assigned as a reading and discussed in class. When these types of topics appear in the blog posts, it shows that in general, students were very interested in the discussion that took place in class. If the topics discussed are important to the class, many people may choose to expand on those topics during their blog posts.

While seeing what the class as a whole thinks of a specific topic is interesting, it is also interesting to see what specific people in the class care about. Some students have chosen to repeatedly write about the same topic, showing that that topic is something extremely important to them, and by reading their blog posts, anyone can learn why they are so passionate about that topic. More often, people tend to write about several different topics in their blog posts. By looking at the different topics that one person writes about, it is easy to learn a lot about that person. In the blog posts the writer not only shows what topics are of interest or importance to them, but they also express their personal opinions and beliefs, allowing the reader to get a better sense of who they are as an individual. Because of this, the blog is not only a good archive of the class as a whole, but also a small piece of the archive on each of the students within the class.

Disease and The Apocalypse

With modern medicine, one would think that the threat of plague would not be a serious concern among the human population. These days, many diseases are completely preventable thanks to vaccines. Diseases like whooping cough, smallpox, and polio have been nearly completely eradicated. Despite advances in medicine, many apocalyptic texts focus on disease as the cause for the decimation of the human race.

Despite vaccines and other advances in medicine, many people believe that disease is what will bring down the human race. This can be seen in many apocalyptic texts such as the novel, I am Legend or the film 12 Monkeys. In those texts, disease quickly spreads throughout the human population until only a small number of survivors remain. In addition to this, the in the Christian apocalypse, one of the signs that the end is near is the four horsemen, one of whom is commonly known in popular culture as pestilence. He is portrayed that way in the popular television program Supernatural.

Vaccines started being developed as early as the late 1700s, and since then they have given humans the ability to prevent many diseases. These days, many people are refusing to accept vaccines for various reasons. These include religious reasons, a belief in the connection between vaccines and autism, fear of ingredients in vaccines, or fear of complications of vaccines. Due to this decline in vaccinations for common diseases, there have been outbreaks of completely preventable illnesses such as the mumps or whooping cough. While these types of diseases do not threaten humans as a whole, they do reveal a flaw in society that could allow a more serious disease to easily spread.

Another threat is the fact that diseases change over time. If a disease changes too quickly, it can be extremely difficult to get a vaccine to the public in time to stop the spread of that disease. In addition to this, there are many regulations in place regarding testing of vaccines before they are allowed to be put on the market. A very fast spreading disease could infect and kill many people before any vaccine is made available.

Many people fear that plague will end civilization due to the fact that plague can be used as a biological weapon. While common sense says the risk of this type of warfare outweighs the reward, it is not unreasonable to believe that a disaster could result from its use. According to World Health Organization, if biological warfare were to occur in the near future, anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, and tularaemia would probably be used. Although it is said that these agents would be used because they are easy to control, with things like cars and planes allowing for fast travel, it is easy to imagine biological warfare quickly getting out of control.

Because of these reasons, it is easy to imagine disease as the cause of human extinction. This fascinating realism makes disease caused apocalypse stories a popular choice for books, television, movies, videogames and more. The fact that it could start at any time makes it a fascinating idea to ponder.


http://www.who.int/csr/delibepidemics/disease/en/

Movies as a Medium: Jaws

As a medium, film is an extremely powerful tool, but how powerful can it be? Throughout the years there have been movies and television programs produced all over the world, and many of those productions have been viewed by millions of people. One of those movies was the 1975 film Jaws. Based on the 1974 novel of the same name, Jaws is the story of a small town called Amity with a killer shark in the water, and the journey of three men who aim to kill that shark. Those men are Brody, the town sheriff; Quint, a local fisherman; and Hooper, a scientist from the Oceanographic Institute. The release of Jaws had an enormous impact on American society, and it continues to have an impact today. This terrifying story completely altered peoples’ view of the ocean. Jaws had a great impact as a movie for several reasons. Jaws was a great thriller movie, which caused it to be viewed by millions of people. On top of this, at the time that Jaws was released, people did not know enough about sharks to know how completely exaggerated the movie was. In addition, Jaws managed to glorify shark fishing, causing a decrease in shark populations on the coast of the US.

As a movie, Jaws employs several techniques in order to make the story thrilling. Movies are able to utilize both sight and sound, making it easier to affect people emotionally. Jaws utilizes the sense of sound through its music. Everyone knows the main theme song of Jaws. Those two deep notes alternating back and forth, slowly at first, then speeding up and becoming more powerful. Next come a few high-pitched, irregular minor chords. The two underlying notes almost sound like a saw scraping back and forth against something. As a saw moves one direction it produces a different note than it does going the opposite direction. John Williams, the composer of the music featured in Jaws, said, “It had the effect of grinding away, coming at you, just as a shark would do, instinctual, relentless, unstoppable” (Andrews 60). The ostinato sounds habitual and mindless, just as the movie portrays the shark to be. On top of that, the irregular minor chords also are inherently frightening. Nonlinear sounds such as the minor chords and other high pitched sounds used in the song sound similar to the shriek of an infant or a baby animal, which causes humans to respond with negative emotions or fear (Blumstein, Bryant, and Kaye). Hearing those chords brings out a fear that is biologically ingrained in humans. Together the ostinato, the high-pitched sounds, and the minor chords successfully instill fear in the viewer.

In addition to sound, movies also are able to use film as a way of communication. The most important aspect of film is that it is able to tell a story in a way one picture alone never could. They are able to show how a situation changes over time. Jaws uses several useful tools to make the film more frightening.  The first is the use of the dark. The dark is something that people naturally fear. “There are good reasons to have an instinctive fear of the dark. In our history, before civilization, the world was a scary place. There were many predators that hunted at night. In a very real sense, there were monsters out there. The world in which our ancestors lived was perilous” (“The Basics of Evolution”). This is why many of the scenes in Jaws, like the opening scene where the first victim goes swimming, take place during the night. In addition, there is less visibility in the dark. The viewer may not know right away where the shark is located, and therefore they cannot tell whether or not the characters are safe. This makes the night scenes more suspenseful.

Another technique in Jaws that creates suspense is how the attacks are timed. When the shark is on its way, the audience is aware: however, they do not know who the shark will take. Much of the suspense in the movie is built that way. In the scene where the shark arrives in the pond where Brody’s son is swimming, the audience knows that the shark is going there, and they also know that Brody’s son is in the water. Despite this, the audience must wait several minutes before finding out the fate of the boy. These types of scenes use the extended amount of time to make the audience feel fear for the characters involved. At the same time, the film also uses the opposite as a means to shock the audience. When Brody, Hooper, and Quint are hunting the shark, there is a scene where Brody is standing by the edge of the boat, when suddenly the shark jumps out of the water just next to him. Since there is no warning before this happens, it successfully shocks the audience. Those types of sudden movements as well as suspenseful scenes are part of the reason Jaws was so successful as a thriller.

While the music and the film itself are both important, the way the music interacts with the film is also important. The most important feature of movies as a medium is the fact that with movies, sound and film can work together to produce a certain effect. The music and images in Jaws are a very successful example of that. In the movie, the theme music was very specifically used as a signal to let the audience know that the shark is present. Each time that the shark was coming, the theme music played. This was used to give certain clues during the movie. For example, in the scene where two boys try to create panic on the beach using a cardboard shark fin, the theme music does not play. Because the viewer expects the music to accompany the fin, it instills a sense of curiosity in the viewer. Later on in the film, when the three men are in the boat with the shark swimming around below, the music does not need to play because the shark is already known to be present, which makes it that much more of a shock when the shark does jump out of the water (John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws’). It is in that way that the visual aspects of the movie and the music along with it can work together to create a suspenseful film.

In order to make the story a little more interesting, there were a few not so subtle exaggerations in Jaws. To start, the shark in Jaws is a great white, and it is 25 feet long. That is extremely large for a great white, since the average size of a female is 16 feet, while the average size of a male is only 12 feet. On top of that, the shark in the movie is incredibly strong. It manages to break into a shark cage by ramming its face into the bars, and it also is able to swim deep below the surface of the water after multiple barrels have been attached to it. Beyond that, the shark is constantly making an effort to attack people throughout the movie, as well as actually swallowing human flesh. The fact of the matter is that humans are not on the menu for great white sharks. Great whites have taste buds, so they usually take a test bite of something, taste it to see if it’s a good meal, and if it does not like the taste, it will spit it back out and move on (“Taste”).  This is what makes the attacks in Jaws so unusual. In the movie, the people who are attacked are killed immediately and eaten by the shark, while in reality, people typically die of blood loss after the attack. In addition, a great white would not be hunting humans. The movie features a shark that is actively trying to break into a shark cage to eat a man and jumping onto the back of a boat to eat people. This is a ridiculous idea. A shark does not have the capacity to work towards a revenge against its hunters in that way.

In 1975, people knew very little about sharks. To them, what was shown in Jaws was realistic or even a decent representation of what sharks are. Because of the fact that people had little or no exposure to sharks, this movie played a big role in affecting the way people look at sharks.  To fully understand how Jaws has affected society, it is helpful to view it as an archive of feelings, a concept from Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings. While Jaws is a fictional film, it still remains a part of the archive of feelings on sharks as a species. This movie documents a time where sharks were viewed as monsters. “Although sharks certainly have a fearsome reputation nowadays, incredibly, ‘at the turn of the 20th century, there was this perception that sharks had never attacked a human being,’ said George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville. ‘There was even a reward offered if someone could prove they were bitten by a shark — money that was never collected’” (Burgess LiveScience). It was not until the 20th century that shark accidents started becoming common, and over time they have become more and more common. This is due to the fact that each year, not only are there more people in the ocean, but they are also spending more time in the ocean. Another piece of the shark archive is the information collected about the Jersey shore shark accidents of 1916. Although Peter Benchley, the author of the Jaws novel, denies the connection, the accidents that occurred in 1916 are the only series of accidents that bear any resemblance to the accidents portrayed in Jaws (“Corrections”). During that series of accidents, five people were injured, and four of those people died. This was the only documented occurrence of a series of shark accidents, and it is the only series of accidents similar to those portrayed in Jaws.

It was during those 1916 accidents that negative language surrounding sharks began to appear. That language was very similar to the language used in Jaws and it continues to be used by much of the population today. When talking about racism, Cvetkovich said, “Everyday forms of racism, many of which are institutional or casual and thus don’t always appear visible except to those who are attuned to them, are among the effects of longer histories of racial trauma” (6). While people’s feelings towards sharks are not the same as racism, it is very similar. There is an underlying hate that causes people to talk about sharks the way they do. Newspapers of the time as well as the Jaws movie call sharks “man-eaters.” The phrase “shark infested water” is also a common phrase despite the fact that the ocean is the natural habitat of the shark. People also frequently use the phrase “shark attack” even when no one was injured. “…our research showed that 20 percent of reported shark attacks in the Australian state of New South Wales did not involve any injury to the bather” (Neff). While this type of language is used out of fear and desire to grab attention, it results in a systematic oppression of an entire species.

While the movie initially caused a fear of sharks, it ended up having a more complicated effect than that. Another initial effect that it had was that it caused more people to go fishing for sharks. “…what happened when the book and the movie Jaws came out in the 1970s. It spawned a huge upswing in recreational fishing for sharks with fishing tournaments. There was this collective testosterone rush that occurred on the East Coast of the United States following those events because every guy wanted to go out and catch a shark, have his picture taken with his foot on the head of a shark and have a shark jaw hanging up in his house” (Burgess Smithsonian). This was a serious contribution to the overfishing of sharks in the late 70’s and 80’s. It is estimated that between 20-100 million sharks are killed by humans each year. After the shark population was sufficiently damaged, scientists realized that sharks are a very important part of the underwater ecosystem. Because of this combined with society’s newfound interest in sharks, funding for shark research increased dramatically. Before, there was no funding for sharks because they were viewed only as pests that eat the fish that fishermen wanted to catch. Now, much more is known about sharks, and public interest in sharks remains strong. This interest is the reason that there are things like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and that there have been more than 50 shark movies released since Jaws.

After the release of Jaws, shark populations off the coast of the US took a big hit, and sharks continue to suffer at human hands. In addition, funding for shark research has increased, and public interest in sharks has increased. These have been the result of only one movie. Jaws was an amazing thriller movie, and it is a classic, but no one could have known what a large effect that it would have on the world. This just goes to show that movies are an incredibly powerful tool that can shape the way people view the world.


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