The marine biology community has a lot to fear about shark movies.
After all, "Jaws" led scared citizens to take matters into their own hands and kill all the sharks they could see, leading to drops in population of up to 90 percent for some species, according to LiveScience.
Over the years, Hollywood — in an attempt to secure those shark-hating, fear-driven audience sales — has continued to make summer shark thrillers. These films are usually gory, focused on demonizing sharks and often blatantly get basic science wrong.
Knowing all that, it makes sense that some would have reservations about "The Meg." The blockbuster Jason Statham film explores what would happen if the ancient, 50-foot-long megalodon shark was still around and hunting in today's seas.
But, having seen "The Meg," it actually is more pro-ocean than you'd think. (Spoilers ahead.)
1. The movie addresses shark finning.
"The Meg" doesn't show the giant megalodon as the only fearsome creature in the sea. It quickly makes a statement about how humans are ones to fear as well.
While searching for the megalodon, the movie's characters are confused about why all the sharks they find are already dead with no fins. The lead scientist explains that they're carcasses from a shark-finning boat, sadly killed "all for a bowl of soup."
2. There's a nod to human pollution.
When the megalodon is swimming up to a super-populated beach, you can see discarded sunscreen bottles littering the seafloor. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, so the movie definitely could have gone further.
But if you did notice the trash, you'd be quickly reminded who the real threat to the ocean is: humans.
3. The scientists don't want to kill the megalodon.
... at first. After it eats basically everyone and everything, they decide killing it is their only option. But, for a shining half a second, one of the marine biologists implores the team to consider non-lethal options. Just because it's a shark doesn't mean you have to kill it.
In real life, beaches everywhere are learning this lesson. There are promising shifts to using sonar-equipped buoys and phone apps to identify sharks and clear beaches. These are a far cry from dangerous shark nets that can entangle and kill much more than just sharks.
4. It does address the impact of human greed on the natural world.
When the first megalodon is killed (yes, we said first — the movie has two giant sharks), the lead biologist sadly muses about how quickly humans are to destroy their own scientific discoveries. What good does it do anyone to find something new and then demolish it? Then the scientific process is over before it's even begun.
That this conversation is had while a dead shark is strung up on the back of the boat could almost be a nod to "scientific" whaling expeditions that seek to kill to learn instead of observe to learn.
"The Meg" is not a shark advocacy movie; it's first and foremost an attempt at a box-office hit.
But the writers didn't have to make it more about the science, and yet they did.
Sure, a lot of the nods to human destruction of the sea are brief or not fully explained, but the intention is there. The movie won't have you believing all sharks are bad — just the 50-foot ones.
And since the film is already a success, maybe the next shark thriller will go even further on the science and advocacy front.