LONG ISLAND, NY—Decrying the stigma the film attached to a once-beloved species of fish, experts at the Coastal Research and Education Society released a report Tuesday blaming the 1975 blockbuster Jaws for transforming the public’s perception of great white sharks from lovable household pets to bloodthirsty killers. “Back in the ’50s and ’60s, you couldn’t go to a pet shop without seeing a little boy or girl begging their parents to let them take home a great white, but Jaws changed all of that,” said researcher Adrienne Long, who went on to criticize Steven Spielberg’s “unfair portrayal” of the 4,000-pound aquatic carnivores as vicious monsters. “The reality is these are cuddly—and let’s just say it, flat-out cute—pets who love nuzzling with children. Especially during the postwar boom, kids loved getting all strapped into their scuba gear and tumbling into a 100-foot long tank to play with their little Whitey or Toothy. Sometimes they’d feed him 50 pounds of fish chum, sometimes they’d just playfully stick their head into his mouth before he could clamp down. The horrific opening swim scene in Jaws essentially undid all of those warm and caring associations. It’s so deeply unfair what we’ve done to these majestic beasts.” Long added that by the 1980s, adoption shelters were already filling up with great white sharks who had been abandoned by their owners.