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Shark Fever: The Lore Of The Great White

Fear of sharks spiked last summer after a great white fatally bit a 26-year-old surfer off the coast of Cape Cod. The fever still runs high as reports of great white sightings coincide with people heading to the beach this 4th of July. 

Yet, we have a higher risk of getting hit by lightning than killed by a great white shark. The myth of the great white, exacerbated by the 1975 megahitJaws, is false. Great whites are not the aggressive creatures still perpetuated in popular media. We're more likely to survive a shark bite simply because sharks don't like the way we taste. They spit us out if they accidentally mistake us for a seal.  

The convergence of globally warming waters off our east coast and the repopulation of seals and great whites after aprevious panic nearly wiped them out, means we'll have to learn to share the ocean. 

Instead of pursuing shark repellents like sonar buoys, electric shark shields, and seal contraception, should we consider how we can co-exist with the creatures of the sea? Besides, whose ocean is it anyway?  The fish were there first. 

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Greg Johnson - School teacher, musician, artist, and lifeguard at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass.; competed at the Lifesaving World Championships 2016
  • George Burgess - Director Emeritus, Florida Program for Shark Research and Curator Emeritus, International Shark Attack File, based on the University of Florida campus 
  • Sy Montgomery - Naturalist and author of 28 books including, The Soul of an Octopus, The Great White Shark Scientist, and How To Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals

Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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