We Need to Talk About Shark Week…


Yesterday I caught up on the Shark Week feature, “Shark of Darkness: The Wrath of Submarine” as I was traveling during the premiere. The show began re-airing at 5 PM. At 6:45 PM I realize I have seldom known two hours to pass so slowly.

When I had the idea to blog throughout Shark Week, it wasn’t without a modicum of trepidation. There’s been a trend in recent years, in my opinion, toward the cheap and sensational when it comes to this high-ratings week of dedicated shark programming. I didn’t think it could get worse than last year’s dismal “Megalodon” docudrama.

I was so very wrong.

From the outset, this B-movie, fear-mongering fiction-disguised-as-documentary set out to play on every fear and myth that exists about sharks, down to–and this is a direct quote– their “insatiable taste for human blood”.

Seriously, Shark Week?

Unlike “Megalodon”, which at least focused on a long-extinct ancestral species of shark, the villain of this tawdry tale is a white shark, a species still trying to make a public-image comeback from 1975’s “Jaws”.

I don’t care enough to parse through the details of this two hour farce. Full disclosure, I started to tune it out after a while. What bothers me is the irresponsibility of this kind of programming.

What bothers me is the fact that the Discovery Channel wastes their considerable budget, resources, talents, and precious viewer attention on this kind of nonsense instead of showing us some real science.

Show me some actual footage of real, gorgeous sharks. Show me some of the dedicated scientists in the field, who I am privileged to learn more about this week through great organizations like the AWSC, Shark4Kids, and Beneath the Waves.

New discoveries are happening daily. This is exciting, forward-moving, sexy science. And I believe that kind of programming can get high ratings.

Nothing the Discovery Channel can manufacture using unknown actors and a studio set could possibly rival some of the footage that was revealed last night when we ventured out with Dr. Greg Skomal and the Remus SharkCam. That’s what I want to see. And judging by the huge backlash towards the premiere, I am not alone.

So get your act together, Shark Week. I’ll be tuning in, along with millions of other viewers, hoping for something better tonight. Don’t let us down.

In the meantime, weigh in here: What do you think of this kind of programming airing during Shark Week?


33 thoughts on “We Need to Talk About Shark Week…

  1. I think Shark Week needs to get its act together. I refused to give the rating to any shows that weren’t scientific or were focused on shark attacks and fear. I watch NatGeoWild’s Shark Fest now, and pop in on Shark Week when they give me something I can sink my teeth into, like last night’s Alien Sharks. The aforementioned was following a grad student in his research about deep sea sharks in the Indian Ocean. It was real, it was entertaining, it was informational, and no actors or made up crap was needed. There are so many points about sharks to focus on, from countless publicly unknown species, to ancient sharks, to their amazing senses. And yet, Discovery refuses to do anything else but shark attacks as their main focus. It’s despicable.

  2. As a long time shark enthusiast, this kind of programming is quite insulting to my intelligence. I understand the thought behind it, and can even enjoy some sensationalism, but not at the expense of the sharks themselves. “The Wrath of Submarine,” creates a bigger problem for sharks, especially as it is in the guise of science. It also hearts more credible shows, such as the aforementioned Alien Sharks, which was wonderful!

    I don’t mind a bit of sensationalism, and even humored looks at breaching sharks and snapping jaws, but never forget your overall message is conservation, science and… dare I say it, Discovery.

  3. yep … I’ve been thinking the same thing …. take a look @ SharkGirl and many others that are out there to help change the way we think & feel about great whites and all sharks … remember folks “extinct is forever”

  4. It upsets me too, that they do these “fake movies”. The next day I had to tell a few people that it was fake and they were telling me, “no its real.” I wish Discovery would do more about the research and get far away from these silly documentaries.

  5. I’m thankful for YouTube channels like The Brain Scoop, SciShow, Smarter Everyday and It’s Okay to be Smart (just to name a few) who have gathered their own cult following from their great shark week coverage by actually using REAL SCIENCE!

  6. Wasps won’t sting you if you leave them alone; they have no reason to. In my opinion, most sharks are just like wasps in that they won’t attack you unless provoked, unless they mistake you for a seal or something similar. You’re more likely to die by tripping over or get hit on the head by a coconut statistically.

    Sharks aren’t completely harmless of course, but they’re certainly not as dangerous as this sort of media makes them out to be. I completely agree with your article! 🙂

  7. That said…I once asked what kind of fish I could put in a tank with the one I already owned, would it eat another fish? The answer, for my particular little fish, and for most fish I’m whole- heartedly sure, is anything that will fit in their mouths. Other than “finning”, don’t feel bad for sharks, poor sharks getting bad “reps”… Sharks eat people, if they can, when they can, because they can. A large enough catfish would eat a person flopping around in the ocean. Do they hunt humans? NO. Humans don’t live in water…why would they hunt humans??? But when we are in the water we are fair game. Shark is delicious by the way. I’ve watched this Shark week mildly. I think they are awesome predators, and a great ancient species. Sci-fi is sci-fi…enjoy it for it’s idiocy at times.

    • Except the vast majority of shark attacks consist of the shark taking one bite, then swimming away. So obviously sharks do not “eat people if they can when they can because they can”. Whomever told you that about fish was simply wrong. SOME species of fish? Yes, that is true. They will do exactly what you describe. But not all of them will. Some are much pickier about their food sources. Not all fish are generalists.

  8. I love Shark Week, mostly for breaching Great Whites and environmental inspections. One of my favorites from previous Shark Weeks was “Great White Gauntlet”, where they showcased how abalone divers literally risk life and limb swimming with Great Whites for their livelihood.

    I do watch the mockumentaries because it has the attraction of any other B-grade horror tale, but find it sad that people actually believe them. I, for one, would like more facts. And to echo the comment above, Discovery does a horrible job of making sure their viewers know its fake. They should be undoing what “Jaws” did, not make it worse.

  9. That is disturbing that Discovery would show something so false…encouraging those who are ignorant to hate sharks- sharks need all the advocates they can get today!

    If you haven’t heard of it, you might want to take a look at Netflix’s Mission Blue, Dr. Sylvia Earle’s latest ocean documentary. Sharks and life in the ocean is critical for sustaining the life on this planet, and is truly precious in its own right. Excellent post,


  10. Honestly, I didn’t actually watch it, but I am disturbed to think that it aired at all. Even more worrying is when I just went to the website to look at what else is in store for Shark Week is that they have a new Megalodon movie that claims “new evidence”. If you look through what they have on offer it becomes clear that this is just a crappy Science version of MTV where the reality is not so real.
    I feel sorry for those that watch this and believe it is real, that could be quite damaging!

  11. Last night’s segment on Ragged Tooth Sharks, Red sea Jaws and the one about attacks in Mexico were well made Nat Geo documentaries.

  12. I wasn’t sure when I decided to tune in for about half an hour on Sunday if I was watching the “Chiller” channel or Discovery. I fully agree with your post. Why are we watching fake horror films on a channel devoted to science, watching tree houses on Animal Planet (what does the tree house have to do with animals?! very little) and Honey Boo Boo on TLC (what the hell is she going to teach me about? why I don’t want to be white trash?) I mean come on. Great work.

  13. I refuse to watch the show as all it does is give people who are not educated on sharks the wrong idea. Theses are magnificent creatures that deserve to be understood and left alone, not hunted to extinction and made out to be something their not.

  14. Unfortunately they waste their time because it brings in ratings. People would rather be marveled and frightened by fantasy than a shark’s natural beauty. It’s quite sad.

  15. I too wish the Megalodon show was all factual. I was disappointed that it was another Mermaid type fairy tale documentary.

  16. > What do you think of this kind of programming airing during Shark Week?

    there are certain movie ‘villains’ that are considered okay — not that many people will complain if you kill them or whatever. snakes. nazis. sharks.

    there have been tons of bad movies made about all of them. shark week on TV EXISTS so that they have an excuse to dust these off and show them.

    that’s capitalism for you.

  17. Thank you! I felt the same way! I don’t understand they are thinking with this. Sharks have a bad enough rap without them airing stupid and irresponsible programming.

  18. I completely agree. I believe that shark week is very overrated, and I haven’t watched it in years. If they would stop showing so many b-rated movies more people would watch it.

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