The Bad Biology of Sharksploitation Pt. 3: Megalodon Misery

By Susan Snyder

Folks, I have dedicated my life to the review of sharksploitation movies. A lot of them are bad. Fun bad, but still kind of bad. I knew that going into this ridiculously specific niche review lifestyle. Yet, in the dark of night, when all is quiet, I pull my comforter a little tighter and shudder at the blatant bastardization of science in these films. It can, at times, be truly breathtaking. 

I shall now continue my rant from The Bad Biology of Sharksploitation Parts 1 and 2 where I bitched poetic about sharks that have multiple heads and the paranormals. If you haven’t read that, please do so now. I’ll wait.

(tapping toe)

Fuck it. I’m moving on. 

This special edition focuses on one and only one topic. Behold…


Carcharocles megalodon 

Examples in film: Megalodon, The Meg, Shark Attack 3, Jurassic Shark, Mega Shark vs. Anything!

We live in a magical world, a world where people actually believe that Megalodons still roam the murky depths of the darkest corners of the oceans. Idiots. 

In all fairness, Shark Week 2013 and 2014 did their part in creating this stupid myth with a couple of mockumentaries that buried the fiction disclaimer so deep, you needed a colonoscopy to find it. I know actual PhDs who fell for that shit. This is only part of the reason I despise Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. But I’ll save that for another rant. 

In reality, the closest in time, if we are being really really optimistic, that we are to these prehistoric leviathans is about 2.5 million years. That’s even longer than a 10am Sunday drive thru wait time at McDonalds! Like, a long time.

Megalodons have become, despite the far-fetched-ness of the whole concept, the darlings of sharksploitation genre. I mean, I totally get it. They are basically kaiju with a basis in reality. They are fucking fascinating monsters. Even I can suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy a decent Meg movie. 

Well, almost. Here’s a few of the things that make my lip curl and eyelid twitch (side note: it’s always my left eye. That must mean something. Anyone?).

1.  The size! 

Honestly, I am not sure even the most hardcore shark nerd really knows how big Megs got back in the day. Our best guess can only be discerned from fossil remains. Well, the ass kicker is, Megs and all sharks are cartilaginous fish, so they have no bones to fossilize. The only thing we have is . . . teeth! 

I have a few Meg teeth. One of them is 8 inches in length (8 real inches, not what your date tells you he’s got for you after a couple of Long Island iced teas). So these fuckers clearly got BIG. Science estimates they reached up to 60 feet in length. These movies, however, go just a wee bit bigger than that. The Meg puts it at about 85 feet depending on the scene. You see, in addition to using dubious sizes, filmmakers like to change the size a lot. In the same movie. Sigh. 

2. How it gets here!

More often than not, I’ve found the explanation for the reappearance of Megalodons to be some sort of fracture in the seabed. A deep-sea oil rig drills too deep and opens a crevasse into an underwater channel where Meg has been sleeping all these years like Cthulhu in R’lyeh. Or perhaps she has been alive and well within a suboceanic saltwater river system. My favorite of all is the premise of The Meg, starring the scrumptious Jason Statham (seriously watch this if only for the scene where he emerges from the shower. Ladies, amiright?). Anyhoo, this film wants you to believe that the Meg follows a temporary break in the thermocline covering Marianas Trench all the way up to the surface. Okay, this one may be the most scientifically plausible . . . if we weren’t talking about a long extinct creature with exactly fuck all possibility of existing in modern times.

3. Wouldn’t we have noticed? 

Granted, we have explored more of outer space than we have our own earthly oceans. There is a possibility of finding new species of all shapes and sizes. The Megamouth shark was discovered in 1976 by accident off the coast of Hawaii and that ain’t exactly small. However, it averages only 16 feet while the Meg is up to 60 feet. Also, species thought long extinct have been found alive and well in our seas today. The coelacanth was thought to have gone bye bye 66 million years ago, but a living population was found in 1938!

But surely, a 60-foot version of a Great White would be seen by someone, anyone. The notion of it living under camouflage somewhere in the deepest depths, where humankind has yet to venture, is total bullshit. How would it handle the crushing pressure? What would it eat that could satisfy its gaping maw? How would its circulatory system deal with the frigid temperatures? 


So if we crumple up and toss that idea in the bin like my latest short story draft, we are left with the Meg swimming around in accessible oceans. Some hapless boob on a super yacht would have spotted the thing, shit his pants, and called the Coast Guard. 

Okay listen, having said all of this, I will once again reinforce my absolute adoration for these movies. As soon as a Megalodon movie comes out, I be like . . . ON IT. 

So don’t get it twisted, I wanted to lay some science on your glistening asses but by no means do I want to discourage you from watching these movies. Just trust me, Megs are dead. Long live the Megs!

Susan Snyder is a writer of horror short fiction and poetry. Broken Nails, her debut poetry collection, was released in July 2020. The short story “Param” which appeared in the Trigger Warning: Body Horror anthology from Madness Heart Press was nominated for a 2020 Splatterpunk award. Her work can be seen in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase and multiple magazines and anthologies. Susan writes a weekly shark movie review blog called Sharksploitation Sunday