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July 1, 2009

Freedom from Fear

I’m sure you can remember the first time you saw the movie Jaws. In fact, I bet the theme song is playing in your head right now. Yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of the filming of that infamous July 4 beach scene. Crowds of bathing suit-clad extras screamed and ran from the water over and over again until the scene was perfect. Yet, here’s the thing: Jaws is a movie. And those extras were simply acting. Because the truth is, despite the ever-present hysteria—see “Sharks as Serial Killers? Try Again”—that beach scene is probably never going to happen to you. And what’s more, we’re the ones putting sharks in danger of extinction. Even though shark attacks are publicity magnets, there are many beach activities that are more dangerous than sharks. They include: driving to the beach, drowning, boating accidents, collapsing sand and even getting hit in the head with a coconut. And only 3 of the more than 350 species of sharks are associated with nearly two-thirds of all shark attacks. So if you’re lucky enough to be on the beach watching fireworks this July 4, declare your freedom from shark fears. Steven Spielberg wouldn’t want you to worry.