The Shark

Are sharks really as threatening as we like to believe? Very few fit the stereotypical image of the star of Jaws. More than half the 350 species are less than 3 feet long, and the very biggest feed on plankton. And for every person killed by a shark, we kill 2 million sharks. It seems they have more to fear from us than we from them.

Produced by NHNZ

Sharks are big, bad and bitey. We see them as mindless killing machines, emerging from the unknown depths of the sea to kill swiftly and silently and with unparalleled ferocity. The success of the movie Jaws, which grossed more than any previous movie in the history of Hollywood, showed it touched some deep, almost universal human anxiety about sharks.

But are sharks really as threatening as we like to believe? Very few sharks fit our stereotypical image of the star of Jaws. More than half the 350 shark species are less than 3 feet long. And the very biggest are harmless plankton feeders.

Until recently much of our knowledge came from looking at sharks attracted by baiting, and so the only behavior we saw was associated with killing. Modern research has turned our prejudices upside down. But sharks are no automatons; they have mental capabilities at least equal to lab rats. And for every person killed by a shark, we kill 2 million sharks. It seems they have far more to fear from us than we from them.

Episodes From This Series

The Cow

30 mins / 2001

The Bee

30 mins / 2001

The Shark

30 mins / 2001

The Whale

30 mins / 2001

The Parrot

30 mins / 2001

The Fish

30 mins / 2001

The Butterfly

30 mins / 2001

The Ram

30 mins / 2001

The Dog

30 mins / 2001

The Cat

30 mins / 2001

The Worm

30 mins / 2001

Who was the Real Lord of the Flies

2 Minutes / 2007

The Goldfish and the Emperor

2 Minutes / 2007

How a Moth Saved the Queen of England

2 Minutes / 2007

Dracula Was A Little Batty

3 Minutes / 2007

Are Butterflies the Messengers of the Gods

2 Minutes / 2007