Great White Shark (2013) Movie Script

On dry land, we feel at home.
We feel safe.
Place us in the dark open sea,
we're not so confident.
For centuries, we've imagined the ocean
to be filled with nightmarish creatures.
Now, all our fears are focused on one animal.
But is it the monster we've imagined it to be?
Sleek, streamlined and perfectly adapted,
sharks evolved long before mammals, birds or even dinosaurs.
For almost half a billion years,
they have played a crucial role in the marine ecosystem.
And sharks have survived events that wiped out the dinosaurs
and transformed life on earth.
The vast majority of fish in the sea have bony skeletons.
But sharks don't have a bone in their body.
Bony fish may have evolved into the largest
and one of the most varied groups
of vertebrate species on the planet,
but sharks endured.
Partly because they made such incredibly efficient hunters.
Sharks are one of evolution's greatest success stories.
Until now.
With the rise in demand for shark fin soup,
every year tens of millions of sharks
are killed primarily for their fins.
Some shark populations have been reduced by 99%,
and many oceanic sharks face extinction.
But the combined efforts of people all over the world
are helping one shark fight back.
Carcharodon carcharias, the great white.
Up to 20 foot long,
weighing over two tons, it's the largest of the carnivorous sharks.
It has excellent eyesight and sense of smell,
but can also detect vibrations in the water along its entire body.
It can even detect the electricity generated by living things.
With the combination of a soft skeleton and powerful tail muscles,
it is flexible and fast.
Its speed is helped by its elastic skin,
covered in tiny teeth-like scales called "denticles."
And much like mammals, it gives birth to live pups.
It also has a method of regulating its body heat,
so the great white is not cold-blooded.
It's truly a global species.
Its range stretches throughout the pacific,
across the Indian and Atlantic oceans
and even into the mediterranean.
From time to time they do come close inshore,
with the possibility of human interaction.
But you are more likely to be killed by falling out of bed
than by any shark.
Our fear is out of all proportion.
Especially when we discover that some of us have been
living alongside white sharks our whole lives without even realizing.
Here in Los Angeles, there are great white sharks
just off the beach almost every single day.
Ls our coastline a hot spot for
the notorious great white shark? Doug?
They're just babies, Jackie.
These juvenile great white sharks are showing up off our shores
in greater numbers than ever before.
And new research from Cal state university
has actually backed up increasing shark numbers here in California.
Dr. Chris lowe of the Cal state university in long beach
is one of many scientists around the world
trying to fathom the mysteries of the great white.
Southern California is the nursery ground for
white sharks for the eastern pacific.
You know, we heard about it because we heard that
local commercial fishermen were incidentally
catching them occasionally in their nets.
Occasionally people will catch them off the piers, fishing.
The sharks that we've tagged tend to spend their whole summer here,
in the Santa Monica bay area up into Malibu,
kind of moving along the shoreline.
And then we found, based on our satellite tagging data,
that these sharks migrate down to Mexico.
What we don't know is whether they come back.
Now that they're federally protected, there are more sightings.
But Dr. lowe says in south bay,
there has never once been an attack.
I mean, what people forget is you're far
more at risk driving to the beach
than you would ever be from encountering a shark.
Dr. lowe has been working alongside monterey bay aquarium,
who have developed a technique for capturing young white sharks.
With the help of local fishermen, a net is drawn in a huge arc
around a single juvenile great white.
One, two, three.
We put the shark in a water bath.
And at that point, we can assess the shark.
John, you clear?
So we'll take a look at it. Look for scars and marks.
Any injuries that it may have. We'll measure it.
Once we've done that, we then roll the shark
over, and when the shark's inverted,
it goes to sleep.
It's a thing we call "tonic immobility,"
and at that point, the shark just lays there.
Then what we'll do is we'll surgically
implant an acoustic transmitter.
Now the transmitters that we put in these
sharks are designed to last for 10 years.
Every shark gets a unique transmitter that has its own special code.
So when that shark swims by an acoustic receiver
out along the shoreline,
when it swims in the detection range,
it'll tell us the ID code, the date
and the time that that shark swam by.
If the sharks migrate down to Mexico,
hopefully we'll be able to detect them when they come back
and we'll be able to do that for a decade.
Okay. Ready?
Probably the most amazing thing
is that most people don't know that
right in our front yard in Los Angeles
is the most important nursery grounds
for white sharks in the eastern pacific.
This is the second great white spotted off venice beach in just two months.
But experts say not to worry, they're baby great whites, Jackie.
They're not interested in humans.
Oh, i don't know, Doug.
I'm not going to trust that, Doug.
I'm not swimming with... I'll tell you what,
I'm not swimming with any baby great whites...
- No, no, no, no. - ...Anytime soon.
We have a perfectly understandable
innate fear of the great white's jaws.
It can have over 300 razor-sharp teeth in multiple rows.
So when it loses a tooth, a backup simply rolls forward to fill the gap.
And throughout their life, they will produce thousands of teeth.
Unfortunately, their jaws are highly prized
and can fetch as much as $20,000 on the black market.
They also inspired a story that introduced the great white
to millions of people around the world
and helped to replace the tentacled
sea monsters of our imagination
with one very real creature.
What the success of Peter benchley's book
and Steven Spielberg's movie has proved
is that however much people fear sharks,
they are equally fascinated by them.
Entrepreneurs all over the world
have realized real sharks
might be just as big an attraction as fake ones.
One place the white shark can be worth
more alive than dead is South Africa.
Gansbaai is the self-styled
great white shark cage-diving capital of the world.
Cage diving is not without controversy.
By baiting sharks with blood and fish,
are they learning to associate human activity with feeding?
But is this any different to the hundreds of thousands of fishing boats
casting their bait or cleaning their catch close to the shore?
Many would argue that cage diving
is pivotal to changing people's attitude,
and in 1991, South Africa became
the first country to protect the great white shark.
In other parts of the world,
visitors don't observe sharks from the surface.
Instead, the cages are suspended underwater.
Shark-proof cages were first developed in Australia in the 1960s
as a way of observing and filming sharks.
So it is something of a conundrum
that whenever we observe great whites, they are also observing us.
There's only so much you can learn about great whites by watching them
from behind bars.
Their real life remains something of a mystery.
It is my opinion that great whites, for me, is the most
incredible, beautiful animals on the planet.
Mike rutzen, one of south Africa's leading cage dive operators,
is actively trying to change people's attitude towards the great white.
He does this by getting even closer to the sharks.
Outside the cage.
Most people fear them. Most people think they're the devil.
And that is because they do not know them.
They've never seen them and people like to fear the unknown.
And just the way she approaches the boat. What she does around the boat.
How curious she is. How she investigates everything.
Is the animal going to accept it or not?
They'll try to put you in a less dominant position
every time they approach.
With predators like the great white,
if you see him, keep eye contact
with the animal as much as possible.
They are looking for an edge and as soon
as you can see them and they know
you're seeing them, they do not have the edge anymore.
Best animals for me to work with is big female sharks.
They are very placid normally. If you get a big male,
he tells you what to do.
And then you get the smaller ones, they're like 17-year-old kids
and they try and sneak in and just cause
havoc sometimes like any teenager would.
I like to say that great whites
are the best ambassadors for themselves.
Through the documentaries and through people actually coming out here
and seeing the animals, people get a healthy respect for them
and not this mortal fear.
People fear what they do not know, not what they do know.
So the more we can get people to understand
how these animals are just trying to be sharks
and not the devil,
the more, hopefully, people will want them on the planet.
Young white sharks hunt rays and fish,
but as they grow bigger, faster and more powerful,
their diet changes and they are drawn to larger prey.
As they mature,
great whites work their way through the food chain,
finally assuming their position as apex predators.
They need only fear the occasional orca
and the species at the very top of the food chain...
Marine mammals have a thick layer of fat called blubber.
It can make up to 50% of their bodyweight.
It stores energy, aids their buoyancy,
and provides insulation from the cold water.
Seals and sea lions can find refuge out of the water
or in the depths of the kelp forest.
But they need every ounce of agility to evade predation.
Because their concentrated store of energy
is exactly what attracts the great white.
In the open sea,
a seal or sea lion can still outmaneuver a shark.
They're even known to snap at the tails of sharks
to send them on their way.
So the great whites learn to keep a respectful distance and wait.
They know the only way to prey upon a seal or sea lion
is to find a blind spot,
and in a display of astonishing speed and pure force,
take them by ambush.
Using a wooden decoy on a fishing line
when the sun is low and the shadows long in the water,
we can demonstrate the true power of the great white.
But there is something amiss in the food chain.
The ocean has become a dumping ground
for industrial pollution, plastic,
and pesticides.
Poisonous chemicals and heavy metals like Mercury
work their way through the marine food chain,
accumulating in the blubber of marine mammals.
And scientists are beginning to see the
side effects, sickness and sterility,
not just in the animals that eat fish, but in people, too.
These chemicals pass from fish to seal blubber, to adult shark
and onto their unborn pups.
But Dr. Chris lowe and his students made an important observation
on the toxins he's finding in the bodies of the baby white sharks.
The levels that we 're measuring would be harmful to people.
But we're not seeing those effects in these sharks,
so we don't know what effect these
contaminants are actually having on them.
Perhaps the immune systems of the great whites
hold the cure for serious or even life-threatening illnesses.
In the cold waters surrounding Stewart island
are some of New Zealand's great whites.
There are anywhere between 100 to 200 great white sharks
in these waters.
These sharks have had little interaction with people.
They are the southernmost known population in the world.
Little is known about the social interaction between great whites,
but there does appear to be a hierarchy based upon size.
And some interaction involves biting.
But great whites have great powers of recuperation from such wounds.
These sharks are being attracted to the surface using bait and chum.
When the shark takes the bait, researchers are able to attach a device
that can record how deep and how far the sharks actually go.
The tags have revealed that these sharks dive
down to over 4,000 feet,
depths previously unheard of.
Satellite tags are beginning to reveal
some of the great white's secrets.
The tags show us that white sharks make
epic journeys through unprotected waters.
New Zealand's sharks venture as far north as
the tropical waters of the coral sea.
South African sharks are capable of crossing the Indian ocean to Australia
and back again.
Each year, Californian and Mexican sharks travel towards Hawaii
and a region dubbed "shark cafe'. "
Only now are scientists beginning to interpret this data
and theorize as to where great whites mate, gestate, and give birth.
Clearly, tagging is crucial to our understanding of great whites.
Guadalupe is a volcanic island in the pacific,
a lost world.
Mauricio hoyos has been studying the great
whites of Guadalupe for over 10 years.
I first became interested in white sharks
when I was a little kid.
When I saw the movie jaws I fell in love
with the perfection of this animal.
Instead of being afraid,
I was amazed by all the adaptations,
which make them the most perfect predator in the oceans.
We have detected sharks that i have tagged in Guadalupe island
in the west coast of the united states, and also in Hawaii.
For years, he has tagged sharks at the surface,
which can be literally a hit and miss affair.
He has enlisted the help of two world champion freedivers,
Fred buyle and William winram, to try and increase his success rate.
We've been working with Mauricio since 2009.
We helped him to tag shark underwater because the way he tags sharks
is from the boat, but sometimes some shark
don't want to come close to the boat
so he cannot tag them.
During this expedition, our entry and exit into the water
to dive with the great whites was from a Mexican fishing boat,
which is known as a "panga."
Whenever the panga comes in and cuts the motor,
immediately at least one shark will come up to it.
So every time we were getting in, it was kind of like,
"well, do we wait for a shark to show up
"or do we take the decision and jump in
"right away and then make eye contact with it?"
So it was always a little stressful
getting in and out of the water.
The advantage of freedivers is that we can choose the sharks.
If he asks us to tag a big female,
we can choose the animal and place the
transmitter exactly where he wants
and on the animal he wants.
So that's the advantage of having freedivers.
Freediving, for me, is the best way to
explore the ocean and the underwater world.
It's the most natural way of going underwater.
Humans have been doing that for 20,000 years.
On freediving, you just go by your sensations.
You are able to enjoy more of the surrounding and the animals.
And I think that's why, as a freediver,
I have a better contact with the animals.
And the best way to observe an animal in the water is not to chase him,
but it's to have him coming at you. That's the best way.
I'm excited about what's going to happen. At the same time, we know,
always, if either one of us, Fred or myself, starts to space out,
we start to lose our ability to concentrate,
then, you know, we give a signal and we get out.
Because you have to pay attention all the time with a great white shark.
Every single time i dive with them,
I'm learning more and more about them and one of the things
that's become really evident about these
animals is that they're really, really smart.
Buyle". We always work with three divers
in the water because then we can have
like a triangle and everybody's watching each other's back.
So we always know if there is a shark behind us.
And that's the most important because
the great white will always come from behind
or where you don't look at.
They know exactly where your field of vision is.
We never stay five seconds with our head in the same position.
We need to show them that we are
watching constantly. They see that.
They analyze our bodies. They know where our eyes are. They test us.
They know our field of vision. They know that.
So we have always to show them that we are aware. They know.
It's a kind of a game.
Well, when you're in the water with the great whites
you have to make eye contact.
You make eye contact, you're giving them notice that you're not prey.
You're not reacting like prey. You're standing your ground.
It's really about managing them and
keeping them in a place where they're not
certain what you are.
They haven't gone into an instinctual mode.
And the biggest thing to do that is to maintain your cool.
The tagging itself, the process when you dive on a shark,
it's a very mental process.
In fact, you have to be in a space
where you don't think about anything else.
But it's a zone where you should be
very calm, peaceful, not moving.
Not even thinking. You don't have to think because
they can pick up thought and little differences in your body language.
I take a last breath and of course, then,
I stop thinking about not breathing.
It's just... freediving is then just a tool.
Go as slowly as i can towards the shark
and then pull the trigger and place the transmitter.
And then usually the sharkjust shake a bit and swim straight.
The good thing with great white, because they are really big,
they get a bit annoyed, leave,
but usually in the next two or three minutes, they are back.
When you reach the moment where you are able to swim with the shark
and you are at the same speed
and in the same kind of state of mind, I think,
because, at that point, the shark is peaceful.
Of course, he's careful like we are.
But we are peaceful and we think
that we can swim for a while with them.
We just observe each other,
and I think we just try to understand what is the other creature.
It's a zone where nobody is aggressing the other
and we just try to understand each other.
I feel good if I see people going and enjoying themselves with animals.
Especially with their kids because
they are the conservationists for the future.
So I've talked with colleagues in Australia
and South Africa and they think
they're seeing some of the same trends that we're seeing here.
So they've been protected in those countries for 15 years,
and the generation time of a white shark
takes 15 years for them to reach
sexual maturity.
So it kind of makes sense that we should start to see more individuals
if all this conservation is actually working.
I am concerned for the future of the white shark.
Internationally, they are protected in a few
countries but they are highly migratory.
And they do not respect human boundaries.
I think that we are still on time to avoid their extinction,
but we must get as much information as
possible to give the governments the tools
to protect them.
We don't know much about them because
most of the observation so far has been
made from cages with bait.
Just by going freediving with them,
you see their true behavior.
If great white sharks were mindless killing machines,
we would not be able to do
what we do in the water with them.
Despite being protected in key territories
for the last 15 years,
great white sharks are still considered
vulnerable to extinction.
They are slow growing, late to mature,
and don't produce many young.
Key to their survival is a change in our attitude.
Nothing will change our innate
fear of this king of the sea,
but perhaps we can come
to substitute fear with respect.
By helping the great white survive,
we'll have a chance to unlock its mysteries
and perhaps learn something for our own survival.
The interesting thing that people don't think about
in looking at an animal of the size and power
of a great white shark is that
we are far more dangerous to them
than they've ever been to us.