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Animals

‘People want blood and gore’: what we got wrong about filming sharks

From Jaws to James Bond, film-makers have tried to make a fish not inclined to bite humans look hell-bent on doing so

“You convince yourself that there is no danger,” Ron Taylor once said of how he captured his groundbreaking underwater footage of sharks. And afterwards, “You wonder how you got out of it alive.”

In 1970, Australian divers Taylor and his wife, Valerie, set out with the directors Peter Gimbel and James Lipscomb on a global quest to find and film great white sharks. Even today, 50 years later, with sharks a familiar sight from our sofas, the footage the Taylors eventually succeeded in shooting is gripping.

All the action could be happening, and we had to rewind the camera

Related: Great white vanishing act: where have South Africa’s famous sharks gone?

Mysterious and often misunderstood, the shark family is magically diverse – from glowing sharks to walking sharks to the whale shark, the ocean’s largest fish. But these magnificent animals very rarely threaten humans: so why did dolphins get Flipper while sharks got Jaws?

Related: The ocean’s largest mystery – why has no one seen a whale shark give birth?

Only about seven shark species are potentially dangerous. The rest are all sweethearts

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