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  • Hello.

  • This is 6 Minute English

  • from BBC Learning English.

  • I'm Sam.

  • And I'm Rob.

  • Now, on Friday

  • the 29th of June 1975,

  • movie posters appeared in

  • cinemas all over the

  • USA with the now

  • notorious words: 'You'll

  • never go in the water

  • again'.

  • So, do you know

  • which movie was being

  • promoted, Sam?

  • Yes, I think it was

  • 'Jaws' - Steven Spielberg's

  • infamous horror movie

  • which terrified a

  • generation with its

  • story of a man-eating

  • great white shark with

  • a taste for revenge

  • and for human flesh.

  • Jaws multiplied people's

  • fascination with, and

  • fear of, sharks.

  • But sharks' fearsome

  • reputation is not based

  • on facts: most attacks

  • on humans are cases

  • of mistaken identity,

  • where the shark mistakes

  • a swimmer for fish.

  • In recent years the

  • average annual number

  • of worldwide deaths

  • from shark bites was

  • as low as four.

  • Today sharks should

  • be the apex predators

  • of the ocean - the top

  • predator that hunts

  • and eats other animals

  • but has no natural

  • predator of its own.

  • Instead, over 100 million

  • sharks are caught and

  • killed each year and,

  • thanks to this overfishing,

  • many shark species are

  • now endangered.

  • We'll

  • hear more soon, but

  • first I have a question

  • for you, Rob.

  • Approximately, how many

  • different species of

  • shark exist today?

  • Is it: a) 330?

  • b) 530?

  • or

  • c) 730?

  • Well, I'll take a

  • guess at b) 530.

  • OK, I'll reveal the

  • correct answer later

  • in the programme.

  • Now, as Sam mentioned,

  • 'Jaws' made many people

  • nervous about swimming

  • in the sea, largely

  • thanks to scenes in the

  • movie showing the shark

  • biting swimmers in a

  • frenzy of teeth

  • and blood.

  • George Burgess has spent

  • 40 years studying the

  • cause of shark attacks

  • in his job as director

  • of the Florida Programme

  • for Shark Research.

  • According to him, the

  • movie's depiction of

  • great whites is totally

  • unrealistic, as he told

  • BBC World Service

  • programme, The Inquiry.

  • Will a single shark that's

  • involved in a bite on a

  • human be more likely to

  • bite another human in

  • the future?

  • In other

  • words, is there

  • something of the 'Jaws'

  • image as we saw,

  • unfortunately, in the

  • movies of which you

  • had a white shark that,

  • apparently, had a

  • grudge and would

  • try to go after

  • humans...

  • well,

  • nothing could be

  • further from the truth

  • than that.

  • In the movie, sharks

  • are portrayed as vengeful

  • creatures who recognise

  • and try to kill

  • individual people.

  • The shark in 'Jaws' had

  • a grudge - a feeling

  • of anger or hatred

  • towards someone because

  • of what they did

  • in the past.

  • According to marine

  • biologist, George Burgess,

  • this is nothing like

  • the real behaviour of

  • sharks in the wild.

  • He

  • says nothing could be

  • further from the

  • truth - an expression

  • used to emphasise that

  • something is not

  • true at all.

  • The actual truth is that

  • sharks have been

  • perfectly designed by

  • evolution for their

  • ocean environment.

  • In fact, they have

  • hardly changed over

  • the last 400 million

  • years, making them

  • even older than

  • the dinosaurs.

  • Sharks' characteristic

  • design - their fin,

  • teeth and skin - allows

  • them to thrive in their

  • natural environment.

  • Listen to Oliver Crimmin,

  • senior curator at London's

  • Natural History Museum,

  • explaining more to BBC

  • World Service programme,

  • The Inquiry.

  • If we look at the really

  • successful features of

  • sharks you've got to

  • consider this

  • cartilaginous skeleton -

  • that's no bone in the

  • skeleton.

  • That flexible

  • material that the

  • skeleton is made of

  • enables sharks to be

  • very agile, and it

  • enables them to be

  • athletic and

  • it's lightweight.

  • Sharks' skeletons are

  • made of cartilage, not bone.

  • Cartilage is a strong

  • flexible tissue which

  • connects joints in the

  • bodies of living creatures.

  • Feel for the bony material

  • in the fold of your

  • ear - that's cartilage.

  • Not having bones allows

  • sharks to be both

  • flexible - able to bend

  • without breaking, and

  • agile - able to move

  • their body quickly and

  • easily.