UT Professor to Discuss Shark Research Prior to Jaws Screening at Tampa Theatre

Screening on Nov. 17 is part of Tampa Theatre’s “Science on Screen” series

Published: Oct 13, 2011
Daniel Huber, assistant professor of biology at The University of Tampa, will set the stage for a big-screen showing of “Jaws” at the Tampa Theatre with a presentation on the behavior and biomechanics of shark feeding.

The presentation and screening, which is part of the Tampa Theatre’s “Science on Screen” series, will be on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

In the wake of recent shark bite incidents off local Gulf coast beaches, Huber will give a 20-minute presentation on the facts and fiction of shark feeding behavior and biomechanics as they are portrayed in “Jaws.” He will explore the probabilities of shark attacks, how sharks use different senses when finding prey, white shark behavior leading up to a strike and biomechanics of the jaws during biting.

The presentation will be followed by a screening of the 1975 thriller “Jaws,” which was nominated for best picture and has been noted by the New York Times, Empire magazine and the American Film Institute as one of the best movies of all time.

Huber will also explain how malfunctioning shark robots nearly sank the film before it was finished, but surprisingly led to one of the most suspenseful plot elements in the entire film.

Huber and his colleagues are the first to have successfully measured voluntary bite force in free-swimming sharks, which provides a glimpse at the behavioral basis of evolutionary diversification in chondrichthyan feeding mechanisms. His research is conducted at UT, as well as at the University of South Florida and the Mote Marine Laboratory Center for Shark Research.

Tampa Theatre is one of only eight independent non-profit cinemas in the country selected by The Coolidge Corner Theatre, of Brookline, MA, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to receive a $7,000 grant to implement a “Science on Screen” program. This national grant initiative is an outgrowth of the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s 2005 “Science on Screen” series, a program that creatively pairs screenings of feature films and documentaries with lively presentations by scientific experts and technological innovators.

“We love the idea of having fun with science though film,” said Tara Schroeder, program and marketing director, “and see the grant as seed money that will allow the series to flourish.”

The other “Science on Screen” grant recipients are: California Film Institute, San Rafael, CA; Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington, NY; The Loft Cinema, Tucson, AZ; Maiden Alley Cinema, Paducah, KY; Oklahoma City Museum of Art Film Program, Oklahoma City, OK in conjunction with Circle Cinema, Tulsa, OK; Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT; and SIFF Cinema, Seattle, WA.

Huber’s “Jaws” presentation is preceded by a screening of “Young Frankenstein” on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. with a presentation by Randy Criss, instructor of physics at the University of South Florida.

For more information, contact Schroeder at tara@tampatheatre.org or (813) 274-8287.