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Here's why the release of 'Jaws' was truly terrifying for our ecosystem

44 years ago, 'Jaws' terrified movie goers. But sharks should've been the frightened ones.

How did a single movie change our ocean ecosystem?

On June 1, 1975, "Jaws," was released. The film is now regarded as a cultural icon, thanks to the vision of director Steven Spielberg.

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The plot of "Jaws" revolves around a vengeful, blood thirsty villain: A great white shark. The frightful fish terrorizes the fictional New England seaside town of Amityville Island by killing scores of vacationers.

Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't seen the film since its release 44 years ago: The film climaxes with a showdown between a marine biologist/shark hunter and the "evil" beast.

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The hit was almost cancelled by Universal Studio executives when the budget doubled. Spielberg had an initial budget of $4 million dollars, but wound up spending $8 million dollars creating the piece.

Spielberg's pricey vision was validated when Jaws became arguably the first blockbuster hit bringing in $450 million worldwide. 

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While the film was regarded as a classic, it wasn't ideal for sharks.

Many on the east coast saw the movie as a challenge to capture and kill the dangerous beasts. Fishermen had shark catching contests and resorts sponsored similar activities for tourists.

No one even bothered to notice that more people die from falling out bed than shark attacks.

Whole populations of sharks were wiped out. Marine biologists found 50-percent were lost in some areas of the Atlantic and 90-percent in others.

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