Fact or Fiction?

Classic ocean creatures are used throughout films, books and other media, but are they always fairly and scientifically represented? Creative licence is often taken in the writing of these sea creatures, here we look at four of the most famous ocean characters in popular culture to see how accurately they were portrayed and the impact this may have had in public perception.

Great White Shark – Jaws

Perhaps world’s most famous media featured animal is ‘Jaws’. Based on the 1974 novel, the movie Jaws tells the story of a blood thirsty great white shark terrorising an American beach town. Although great white sharks are incredible apex predators, the film depicts the shark stalking and hunting human prey which is not something they do. Jaws is said to measure 25 feet in length in the movie, however the largest great white shark to ever be recorded was “Deep Blue” a female that measured 20 feet.

Director Stephen Spielberg has said he regrets the depiction of great white sharks in Jaws due to its impact on the way in which people view sharks and how dangerous they can be to people. Lucky for sharks these perceptions have continued to improve over recent years due to scientists and campaigners, and they are no longer seen as dangerous maneaters but the beautiful and vital creatures that they are.

Clownfish – Finding Nemo

In finding Nemo, the epic tale of a father crossing oceans to find his son, the habitat in which clownfish live is correct, they do in fact have a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones. The relationship is mutual, with sea anemones providing the clownfish with protection and in turn the fish providing nutrients to the sea anemone. However, there is an issue with one aspect of the movie; in the case that the dominant female dies a male will change gender and take her place. In that case, Marlin would have become Nemo’s mum!

Orca – Free Willy

Released in 1993, Free Willy is the story of an orca that is captured and kept in captivity, later befriending a young boy who releases him back into the wild. Based on the true story of Keiko the orca, who played Willy in the film, Keiko was captured as a three-year-old calf in Iceland and spent his life in captivity in poor conditions. Due to an unprecedented campaign by activists, Keiko was eventually released back into the wild, however, heartbreakingly died just a few years later. Although legislation has helped improve the conditions for cetaceans in captivity, and even banned it in some countries in the world, there is still mass debate over the issue globally.

Flounder – The Little Mermaid

Did you know? Flounder, Ariel’s fish side kick in the Disney film The Little Mermaid, is in fact not a flounder! Flounders are flat fish that live on the bottom of the ocean. They are asymmetrical, meaning both their eyes are on one side of their body, which would have made the fish a little less cute in the movie…

To learn more about these classic ocean creatures and many more, head to Outschool to join our Ocean Explorers and Let’s See Who Lives in the Sea clubs.

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