'Jaws' Movie Poster Comes to Life, in Terrifying Shark Photo

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An astonishing underwater photo of a shark looks uncannily similar to the iconic poster for the 1975 film "Jaws."

In that poster, an enormous great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) barrels upward through the water toward an unsuspecting swimmer, the shark's gaping mouth crammed with layers of teeth.

Remarkably, British photographer Euan Rannachan captured a nearly identical view of a real great white in waters off the western coast of Mexico, The Sun reported yesterday (May 7). [In Photos: Great White Sharks Attack]

Rannachan took the photo while diving in a shark cage near Guadalupe Island. At the time he snapped the picture, he was just a few feet away from the shark — a female measuring 17 feet (5 meters) long, nicknamed "Squirrel" by the divers, according to The Sun.

The image captured an unusual perspective; the shark is perpendicular to the camera, angled toward the surface with its underside and fearsome maw on display, just like the shark in the movie poster.

Rannachan originally shared the photo on Instagram in November 2018, calling it "Jaws in real life."

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Rannachan told The Sun that during dives like these, "shark wranglers" on a boat toss chunks of fish into the water to draw the sharks close to the surface, so photographers in the cage can get better pictures. Sometimes, when the wranglers don't drop the bait quickly enough, a shark will dive deep under the boat and then rocket upward to snatch the fish, Rannachan said.

And that's exactly what Squirrel was doing when Rannachan snapped the photo.

"I just happened to be in the right spot seeing her coming up," he said.

Female great whites, which are slightly larger than males as adults, can grow to be 20 feet (6 meters) long and weigh up to 4,200 lbs (1,905 kilograms). The shark that appeared in "Jaws" was significantly bigger — about 25 feet (8 m) long, with a head weighing 400 pounds (181 kg) and jaws that spanned 5 feet (2 m); according to The Hollywood Reporter.

However, the movie shark wasn't real. It was a mechanical model nicknamed "Bruce" after Bruce Ramer — director Steven Spielberg's lawyer, NPR reported.

Originally published on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.