The GIRL of THE SEA of CORTEZ is my favorite Peter Benchley novel. It's a high-spirited adventure story that speaks to my personal love of the ocean and all its fascinating creatures. The story takes you under the sea to experience the spectacular, but it also shares the threats facing our seas. While this book was written 30 years ago, Peter was prescient about mans complex relationship to the sea. This captivating story is even more relevant today than ever.

--Gregory S. Stone, Ph.D., Chief Scientist for Oceans, Conservation International



"The ocean drives the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the oxygen cycle, the nitrogen cycle … it drives the way the world works. Even if you never touch the ocean, the ocean touches you every day. And it’s only now, as we get into the 21st century, that we’re beginning to put the blue part of the planet on the balance sheet."
--Sylvia Earle


"It is our responsibility to preserve and cherish this pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
--Carl Sagan, Astronomer + Author


 

 

 “For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
--Jacques Cousteau, Oceanographer + Explorer

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How Jaws Changed The World Premieres Tuesday, August 14th at 9 PM on Discovery Channel's Shark Week

HOW JAWS CHANGED THE WORLD
Premiering Tuesday, August 14, 9PM e/p

There are very few movies we can honestly say truly changed the world — but Jaws is one of them. Audiences stood in lines that wrapped entire city blocks to watch the world’s first summer blockbuster. Careers were made, fortunes created, and ways of directing and scoring movies and shooting special effects were all changed forever when it was released. But the impact the film had on the oceans and their inhabitants was as big as the audience it found — and just as surprising. In the aftermath of the film's release, great white sharks were vilified and killed, leading to their near-disappearance from t he eastern seaboard. At the same time, public fascination with sharks led to a golden age of shark science that completely changed our view of the ocean and how it works. And as the science began showing us how real sharks behave, it spurred a worldwide conservation effort whose earliest champion was Jaws author Peter Benchley.

Be sure to also check out the shark conservation partners that Discovery is supporting, including Shark Savers.

www.sharksavers.org and this great feature in the Cape Cod Times, by Patrick Cassidy

 
 

JawsFest Takes Aim at Sharks - To Save Them

When Peter Benchley asked his wife what she wanted to do for their 40th wedding anniversary, the answer was obvious: Dive with great white sharks.

"It was just the most marvelous trip," Wendy Benchley said about the 2004 vacation to Guadalupe Island off Baja California, where she remembered seeing several large, female white sharks glide by the dive cage.

Eight years later and 37 years after her late husband's famous book was remade into the blockbuster movie "Jaws," Benchley is still fascinated by sharks and is working to help protect them.

She is chairwoman of Shark Savers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of sharks. The group, formed by divers in 2007, focuses on stopping the practice of harvesting fins from sharks for shark fin soup, a delicacy in China.

This week, Benchley and Shark Savers are on Martha's Vineyard to help educate the public about sharks during the JawsFest tribute to the movie.

"It's wonderful for Peter's legacy to have 'Jaws' as a learning tool and teaching moment, as well as a thrilling moment," she said about the evolution of attitudes toward sharks since the movie was first released.

Only a few years after "Jaws" was published in 1974, her husband said he wouldn't have written the same book again, Benchley said.

"Our knowledge about the ocean and about sharks changed dramatically," she said, adding that it became quickly apparent sharks were being overfished.

Shark fishing tournaments in which the animals are killed, including the annual one on Martha's Vineyard, can further damage already fragile shark populations, Benchley said, adding that she has seen kill tournaments in other places successfully transition to catch-and-release.

"To me, that's what I hope the tournament on Martha's Vineyard becomes," she said.

The trade in shark fins is the leading cause for the decline of shark populations globally, Samantha Whitcraft, Shark Savers director of programs and a conservation biologist, said.

As many as 74 million sharks are killed for their fins each year, Benchley said.

Opponents highlight the cruel practice of cutting off the fins of sharks and then dumping the fish back into the water alive, leaving them to either be eaten or suffocate on the ocean floor because they can't swim.

The United States is among the top 10 countries in the world exporting shark fins to Asia, Whitcraft said.

The effort to ban the trade has to be undertaken state by state, she said. It is banned already in several states, including Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington.

Because of the booming middle class in China and other Asian countries, the consumption of shark fin soup is up, she said. "It's like we would have champagne to celebrate official banquets, weddings," she said.

The top 14 shark species targeted for their fins are all listed as threatened or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Whitcraft said. IUCN is a global environmental organization that publishes a list of threatened species.

But only white sharks, basking sharks and whale sharks are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a treaty on the trade of endangered or threatened species overseen by the United Nations.

On the one hand, the movie "Jaws" brought sharks — and the fear of them — into the national consciousness, she said.

But the movie also fed a fascination with sharks and encouraged some — such as Whitcraft — to study them, she said. "Hooper is my hero," she said about the scientist character played by Richard Dreyfuss in the movie. "There are so many people in this field who will point to 'Jaws' and say, 'Yep, that's where I fell in love with sharks.'"

During the first JawsFest in 2005, Peter Benchley helped educate organizers about the plight of sharks, event producer Susan Sigel Goldsmith said.

Wendy Benchley's relationship with Shark Savers made for a natural fit between the two organizations, Sigel Goldsmith said.

Money raised from donations as well as a percentage of sales at certain businesses and sales of shark artwork will go toward Shark Savers and other conservation efforts, she said.

Sigel Goldsmith said she didn't know how much money this year's JawsFest might raise.

In 2010, Shark Savers received about $340,000 from various sources and spent nearly $200,000, according to tax documents.

The primarily volunteer-based organization ended that year with $241,388 in net assets, according to the documents.

Both Whitcraft and Benchley said the recent return of great white sharks to the waters off Cape Cod is an exciting development. State officials have confirmed a Denver man who suffered injuries to his legs while swimming July 30 off Truro was bitten by a white shark.

"It's going to be an interesting time, and of course, it's going to be difficult," Benchley said. "The hope is that the bites will be few and far between."

By taking precautions such as not swimming at dawn, dusk or too far out, however, the chances of being bitten by a shark — already slim — can be reduced even further, she said.

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120811/NEWS/20...

Shark Fans Flock to Jaws Fest

 

Jaws changed Peter's and my life and ocean awareness, but what is truly remarkable is how it seems to have transcended generations; I hear moms and dads talking about how excited they are to be here at Jaws Fest and to watch the movie with their own children and to talk about sharks in a way that isn’t just about fearing them, but how important they are to the health of our oceans.

www.jawstribute.com

This year's festivities span 4 days, and include Universal Pictures premiering the first ever release of Jaws on Blu-Ray (Steven Spielberg has helped oversee the frame-by-frame re-mastering of the picture and sound so it looks like a new movie with plenty of great extras; the movie will be showcased on Saturday night under the stars and it will be  available on Blu-Ray in stores on August 14th).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLWvXaeDzwU

For me this years Jaws Fest is breaking new ground with its big emphasis on shark conservation and awareness; I will be participating in several public forum discussions about the work Peter and I have done over the past 30 years and introducing great organizations that I work closely with like Shark Savers whose sole mission is to protect sharks and rays. www.sharksavers.org

Discovery Channel's celebrating its 25th Anniversary and premiering a new film  called "How Jaws Changed the World" on Tuesday, August 14th. It is exciting to see how supportive Shark Week is of important shark conservation work. This year they are supporting Shark Savers, Oceana, and PEW. Our true blue friend Juliet Eilpern who won the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Media in 2011 has a great article in today's Washington Post about Shark Week's evolution towards conservation. Be sure to check the new film and this article out.

www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/shark-week-turns-25-discovery-cha...

Discovery's "How Jaws Changed the World"

We are also excited that Random House released Jaws for the first time as a eReader with some wonderful bonus content.

As Peter said, "Save the Sharks and we can save the Oceans".

Enjoy!

Wendy Benchley

Shark fans flock to Martha's Vineyard for "JawsFest"

Cue those ominous strings from Jaws.
Today marks the start of JawsFest: The Tribute, a four-day salute to Steven Spielberg's blockbuster 1975 film that transformed the quiet summer enclave of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. into fictional Amity Island - the temporary haunt of a mechanical monster named Bruce.

By CHITOSE SUZUKI, AP

The movie's phenomenal success was followed by an explosion in summer crowds on the island, and a boom in construction of lavish homes.

Before "Jaws," the average summer tourist population was about 5,000 people. After it was released, the figure ballooned to 15,000. It is now about 75,000, but rises to 130,000 during the busiest weeks.

As Reuters reports, the movie's success was followed by a boom in home construction and an explosion in summer crowds on the island. Before Jaws, the average summer tourist population was about 5,000 people. After its release, the figure ballooned to 15,000.

It's now about 75,000, but rises to 130,000 during the busiest weeks - including this one, when fans will descend on the island for Jaws-related trivia hunts, location tours, discussions and documentaries about the making of the movie, autograph sessions with surviving cast members, and forums about shark conservation. A new digitally re-mastered, Blu-ray version will screen on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m. - preceded by a concert from "The Hammerheads."

Jaws author Peter Benchley, who died in 2006, devoted himself to shark conservation after the success of his book. Fear of sharks was so great after Jaws that "the initial reaction was to go out and hunt great whites," his wife, Wendy Benchley, president of the conservation group Shark Savers, told USA TODAY. "It horrified us."

Even when that panic died down, the shark population continued to dwindle because of overfishing caused by demand for shark fins.

Last month, a swimmer was attacked 400 yards off a Cape beach by what state officials believe was the first great white shark attack since 1936. The man required surgery for bites on both legs.

"At the grocery store this morning, people were talking," Benchley says. "But they now accept that sharks live in the ocean. If people act wisely, don't swim at night and don't go way out, we should be able to share the ocean together."

Jaws Fest Begins in Martha's Vineyard

Jaws changed Peter's and my life and ocean awareness, but what is truly remarkable is how it seems to have transcended generations; I hear moms and dads talking about how excited they are to be here at Jaws Fest and to watch the movie with their own children.

 www.jawstribute.com

This year's festivities span 4 days, and include Universal Pictures premiering the first ever release of Jaws on Blu-Ray (Steven Spielberg has helped oversee the frame-by-frame re-mastering of the picture and sound so it looks like a new movie with plenty of great extras; the movie will be showcased on Saturday night under the stars and it will be  available on Blu-Ray in stores on August 14th). 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU_j7fyBF-A

For me this years Jaws Fest is breaking new ground with its big emphasis on shark conservation and awareness; I will be participating in several public forum discussions about the work Peter and I have done over the past 30 years and introducing great organizations that I work closely with like Shark Savers whose sole mission is to protect sharks and rays.

www.sharksavers.org

Discovery Channel's celebrating its 25th Anniversary and premiering a new film  called "How Jaws Changed the World" on Tuesday, August 14th. Be sure to check it out.

www.discovery.com/sharkweek

We are also excited that Random House released Jaws for the first time as a eReader with some wonderful bonus content.

Available from:

As Peter said, "Save the Sharks and we can save the Oceans".

Enjoy!

Wendy Benchley

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