Special 8: JAWS Special

Air Date: July 17, 2005

If a pressurized scuba tank is shot, it will explode.


When the tank was punctured by a bullet it simply decompressed quickly, causing it to fly around like a compressed-air rocket. The team was only able to make the tank explode in the end by using explosives.

A Great White Shark can pull barrels underwater.


A shark’s maximum striking force is great enough to pull the barrels under.

A Great White Shark can pull barrels underwater and hold them there.


The force a shark can generate in a continuous pull is insufficient to keep the barrels under water for a significant amount of time.

A Great White Shark can ram a dive cage with enough force to damage or destroy it.


The "ShaRammer", a machine designed to simulate the force of a Great White Shark, penetrated the cage with enough force to rip a significant part of it loose and carry it away on its body. The cage was completely destroyed.

A Great White Shark can ram a boat with enough force to punch a hole in it.


A Great White has enough power to punch a hole in the side of a wooden boat under the right circumstances, but an example of this happening has never been documented.

A Great White Shark can pull a boat backwards with great enough speed that waves break over the rear end.


The same reason why the shark cannot hold the barrels underwater continuously.

Punching a shark in the nose, eyes, or gills will cause it flee or at least back off briefly.


The sharks punched by both a specially modified Buster and Jamie were driven off briefly and were hesitant about making repeated approaches. Strikes to the gills were noted to be more effective than strikes to the nose.

Sharks can be caught using a special piano wire. (from a deleted scene in Jaws)


Piano wire doesn’t have the tensile strength needed to be used as an adequate shark-catching lure.

The sequel to this episode has more shark myths: Mythbusters Shark Week.


  1. owen says:

    for the pressureized scuba tank myth what if you use a tracer round ???

    • EDD says:

      would it make a diference?lets face it,theres no flamable gas inside a scuba tank

      • Jeremy says:

        They used the information from the movie, the Sheriff didn’t have a tracer round, so Myth-busters didn’t use one.

  2. Wesley says:

    How is a tracer round going to do anything? The air inside the scuba tank isn’t flammable.

    • Jordan says:

      Actually, pure oxygen is one of the most flammable substances known to man…

      • ken says:

        Actually not. Oxygen is an oxidizer and will make other things burn rapidly but by itself it is not flamible.

  3. allycia says:

    can you play this jaws special again i really enjoyed it

  4. anny says:

    I would like to hear back from the mythbusters. This episode made me very angry. Is a shark not an animal? Is hurting an animal not animal cruelty?

    • Jerry says:

      get over yourself and get a life. Sharks are just animals and they happen to be quite tasty

    • MSpears says:

      In addition to what Jerry said… if you think a squishy human fist is going to do any real damage to a shark, especially with the water resistance slowing down your punches, you’re wrong.

      Also. I’d bet that SPCA observers were watching carefully, just like they monitor movies to make sure that no animals are harmed during filming.

  5. chris. H says:

    with the myth where you guys shot the scuba tank it might have been different if you appied a lot of jaw pressior to hold it in place it might explode when its shot it might collaps under the pressior of the jaws of the shark because the shark was holding it pritty tight in the movie. and imagine how much pressior it’s jaws could put out for a shark that big maby enough to cuase it to collapse when shot and release a huge amount of air pressior and blow up the shark’s head. it also could depend on the type of bullet used as well. anyway good work keep it up

  6. starscream says:

    Back to the topic, the shark would ram a dive cage with enough force make me interested. So, I would advise the divers to be careful and not hoping for the dive cage to protect you. A joke? When the Great White Shark attacked the ram cage, it will exhausted because it use most of its force. So the divers could walk away easily. Ha Ha Ha.

  7. bukster says:

    What about a scene in Jaws 2 where a person puts cyanide liquid into the hollow noses of his bullets. Would that actually do anything? Surely the act of firing the bullet will remove any poison put on the bullet. It wouldn’t deliver enough cyanide to cause any problems to the victim on top of being shot in the first place.
    I’ve heard of other poisons put on bullets. The mafia used to rub some sort of deadly oil onto bullets years ago. I don’t know if it worked. Perhaps the mythbusters could try that myth, “Can you poison your bullets?”

    • Bubba Ray says:

      He seals the hollowpoints with wax after he puts the poison in. What difference would that make ?

  8. Jennifer says:

    I just thought you’d like to know that on the E. Coast of Florida this week we had two shark bites (attacks) 1 was a man the other was a dog! The owner of the dog had to punch the shark several times to get the shark to let go of the dog. The dog survived with injuries to it’s hind quarter and back legs. I just thought you’d be interested in the fact that a dog will and can be attacked by a shark. We Love Your Show Keep Up The Great Job! Thanks.

  9. jonathan caddick says:

    “marlin?stingray?…can’t bite through this piano wire…don’t you tell me my business again,boy!”

    Quint is trying to lure the shark,not pull a live,angry 35ft/3 tonne animal aboard his boat with a fishing line!

    piano wire,though probably stronger than the line it was attatched to anyway,is impervious to the teeth of every animal in the sea,bar one … a large adult great white

    Quint’s suspisions are confirmed as he shows hooper the severed piano wire;and they know for sure they’ve got their man!(not some poor dog fish or sand shark)

    both scenes are testiment to Quint’s knowledge and experience.both are on the Jaws special edition disc(original UK release),in fact there are tons of extras/deleted scenes/alternates all genuine footage 40 mins (i think) i’ve watched it all several times and can assure you that they did a fu*king good job of cutting it out in the fist place!

    unfortunately,then the mythbusters were testing a totally made-up theory,quint wants to see severed piano wire to assure him its a large shark,he couldn’t care less at what pressure it snaps!
    they should have got some sharp teeth from all kinds of game fish/against those of a great white and chomped some piano wire!

    The teeth of the great white are razor sharp/serated/multiple sets (kinda like a natural samurai sword set of scissors) and WILL cut through any grade of fishing wire/piano wire.

    all other large predators,whilst having very sharp teeth,really struggle to bite through piano wire,it’s not impossible(rare) but the wire tends to come up frayed and unwound,rather than severed.

    i would still like the mythbusters to try it!

  10. jonathan caddick says:

    i’m pretty sure that a scuba tank flying down a sharks mouth/stomach at rocket speed would kill it anyway,…and where would you have aimed?……………….also Brody’s look of crazed terror happiness needed the explosion

  11. jonathan caddick says:

    in the right seas my jet-ski could pull Quint’s boat backwards at several knots with plenty of water splashing over the back.i’ve seen 10 rods/10 feathers in a mackerel feeding frenzy drag the 21ft’ bayliner cuddy considerably…..an already moving boat(even backwards) needs little power to keep it going,and a scared,paniced,wounded shark jolting high to low/left to right!…in the movie the 1st good shot of the shark from above;next to Quint’s boat……..that shark could easily drag that boat

    would a normal shark do this…? NO!
    but could it …oh yes
    a shark of this size wounded and tethered to the boat by 3 harpoons,has no other option but to run,kinda like a human run/climbing a hill the shark would seek out better waters and do everything it could to release the painfull harpoons,thus dragging the boat!(for sure!) maybe not as dramatic as in the movie but it would still be scary

    • Ron says:

      Dragging boat backward to get spray in the ocean is different than in a inlet, 3 foot seas you wouldn’t need to go 35 miles an hour more like 8 miles an hour.

  12. Singapore Clubbing says:

    Sharks are great but they are still the one creature that gives me nightmares. I am fascinated watching them though.

  13. Anna says:

    They did not hurt the animals in this episode, Anny. They made sure of that.

  14. Dave says:

    I watched this episode and found it entertaining. However, several of their “busted” myths were based on the amount of pull/force exerted by the largest known great white shark. The entire premise of the movie is that this shark is of extraordinary size. The mythbusters even commented at times on Quint’s estimate of the size and weight of the shark. why didn’t they extrapolate the effort of the actual Jaws shark rather than using real life sharks as their limits? I don’t consider some of these myths busted yet.

    • Nikos says:

      I agree. Besides, 30% of 4000 is 1200, so the largest known great white shark can easyly hold the barrels down!

  15. Aaron says:

    I agree entirely with Dave. The shark in the movie was supposed to be almost 25′ which would weigh in excess of 6-7k lbs. I think they need to base their experiments on an animal of those proportions.

  16. Ken says:

    I will second Aaron’s agreement with Dave. they should have extrapolated for the larger Shark that was in the movie. would likely have made a difference in the ‘hold 3 Barrles under’ test (which the shark only managed for a few moments anyways).
    also when coupled with the damage to the engines on the boat (which was being repaired) may have had a different result for the pulling the boat backward test. though i admit not as likely.

    as to the Piano Wire. i guess the mythbusters didnt pay close attention to that deleted scene where Quint commented the sharks ‘Choke on it’ though what he meant i’m not sure.

    as to the scuba tank. i think its likely the pressure relase would ram it down the sharks throat with enough force to seriously injure or maybe even kill the shark. though there is room to allow for a freak hit to strike just the right spot to cause a rupture, like say along the end of the bottom. but as likely as the myth of 2 civil war bullits hiting eachother and fusing together.

  17. Dan says:

    Doing the whole shark cage myth was kind of silly.

    During the filming of Jaws they had footage of a real great white shark next to a miniature shark cage containing either a maniqune or a little person.
    The footage of the great white destroying the shark cage is not special effects. A real shark actually destroyed the cage, naturally the footage was so awesome they used it in the film.

  18. Wade D Mollison says:

    I would look again at using piano wire for catching sharks. The late Frank Mundus used piano wire for catching sharks and he caught several hugh Great Whites sharks with it and I know of several people that have caught hammer heads and tiger sharks of large proportions. They were using regular piano wire.

    • Ron says:

      We use piano wire for bluefish, pike it is a common used fishing wire leader. I would have to see episode again but strength test I think they never used a drag which reliefs pressures,a must or any large fish would brake the line

  19. Chris says:

    I’d like some info on the poison bullets. I agree with the original post that the poison wouldnt survive the actual firing. In JAWS 2 he used wax to tip the bullets, in reality this wax would probably melt? In the firing process, however is it possible to create a posion bullet that may kill your target even if it is just a non fatal wound.

    Wasnt there a person that used a posion ball shot out of an umbrella into his target that killed his target? I vaguely remember a story about this..

    • MSpears says:

      Yes, but it was literally point-blank range… he literally poked his target with the end of the barrel.

  20. Jim says:

    Isn’t the whole ‘bullet – tank – bang’ thing due to a misunderstanding that many people have… Many seem to think a divers tank isn’t compressed air, but pure oxygen.

    • Jordan says:

      It is more than that, though. The oxygen content is higher than that of normal air, at sea level.

  21. Joe says:

    for the exploding scuba tank, if it was a High O2 concentration Nitrox, there are many cases of scuba Tanks exploding from contaminents in a nitrox mix. Would love to see this tested again with a 50% mix

  22. paul says:

    I really honestly think sodium cyanide bullet is the answer to this whole mythbuster jaws dilemma. I have researched evidence that sodium cyanide can react violently and explosively under certain water conditions and upon hitting on an airtank. It is plausible I wish I could actually try it myself :P lol but really myth busters should try the sodium cyanide bullet. Cause in jaws 2 you see him making them that doesn’t mean jaws 1 he didn’t. It could have been a deleted seen or just not shown at all. I found proof it is possible. Please try this again myth busters. Go for round 3 its sodium cyanide time?!

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