For the last 26 years, Shark Week surfaced on Discovery Channel as a yearly event. Last year, 21.4 million viewers dived in.
Best Shark Photographs from the Last Ten Years of Photo Contests from Smithsonian.com features Chris Doherty’s photo of whale shark feeding on tiny egg of spawning fish.
The Best and Worst of Shark Week: Good for Sharks, Bad for Science
David Shiffman, a Ph.D. student researching shark ecology and conservation at the University of Miami, gives us a shark guy’s opinion at Wired.com:
- At its best, Shark Week educates people about the most misunderstood animals on our planet while inspiring them to protect the ocean. At its worst, it perpetuates fear and misunderstanding.
Discovery Channel Provokes Outrage with Fake Shark Week Documentary
“The popular network has found great success in airing shows that mislead and misinform,” writes Jacob Davidson for time.com.
- Instead, Discovery hired actors to play marine biologists on a hunt for the megalodon around the coast of South Africa. Their expedition is mounted following the release of (faked) footage showing a fishing vessel taken down by a massive sea-dwelling predator (nicknamed “submarine”).
More fabricated “evidence” supporting the creature’s existence is presented, including a whale whose tail has been bitten off by an unknown animal, and a Coast Guard video showing a giant, shark-like shape moving through the water.
Viewers, perhaps accustomed to trusting a channel that calls itself “the world’s #1 non-fiction media company” (as Christie Wilcox of Discover magazine points out), were apparently convinced by all the smoke and mirrors (and CGI). A post-show poll shows 79 percent of respondents, as of Tuesday evening. believed the megalodon is still alive after watching the documentary. Only 27 percent said they thought the shark was extinct and “the scientists are right.”
Discovery Channel Owes Its Viewers An Apology, concludes Will Wheaton.
While the whale sharks appear photo-friendly, the oceanic whitetip is considered the most aggressive species and was responsible for The Worst Shark Attack in History.
- The USS Indianapolis had delivered the crucial components of first operational atomic bomb to a naval base on the Pacific island of Tinian. On August 6, 1945, the weapon would level Hiroshima. But now, on July 28, the Indianapolis sailed from Guam, without an escort, to meet the battleship USS Idaho in the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and prepare for an invasion of Japan.[…]But shortly after midnight, a Japanese torpedo hit the Indianapolis. Of the 1,196 men aboard, 900 made it into the water alive. Their ordeal—what is considered the worst shark attack in history—was just beginning.
Rescuers did not arrive for a long time. The men struggled with exposure and dehydration and there were many wounded. The sharks arrived, contributing to the worst maritime disaster in U.S. naval history.
- Of the Indianapolis’ original 1,196-man crew, only 317 remained. Estimates of the number who died from shark attacks range from a few dozen to almost 150.