There's no denying that the movie Jaws definitely made some beach-goers scared to go into the water. However, the story that inspired Jaws was what really had people scared to have a day at the beach. The Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 were so unexpected, sudden, and violent that they stuck in the public's mind even up to the point that the movie hit theaters. The "Matawan man-eater," as the shark was called, took down at least three people, likely four before the killings finally stopped, and it forever changed the public's view of sharks.
To be clear, great white shark attacks in the US are not very common. People are more likely to be killed by bees than they are by sharks, and most shark attacks that do happen do not result in death. What happens in the movie Jaws is not typical of shark attacks at all, and how one survives a real shark attack is quite a different story.
For those wondering whether Jaws is based on a true story, the Matawan man-eater wasn't the initial inspiration for the 1975 Spielberg film, but the 1916 events did play a part in shaping the tale. The details aren't exactly the same, but there was once a killer shark, and he terrorized the public for nearly two weeks.
Two People Were Ruthlessly Killed Close To A Beach In 1916
The Shark Didn't Just Stick To The Ocean
Several People Were Killed Trying To Stop A Shark Attack
The President Called A Cabinet Meeting To Discuss The Shark Attacks