Launched in 1988, Shark Week runs since 31 years
While there is little doubt the positive educational impact and attention that Shark Week has on the population of the species that it brings to our screens, there are experts that question the entirety of the positivity. The undeniable sensationalism by the brash filmmakers and ‘so-called, self proclaimed’ marine biologists on the show may invalidate the very message they are trying to convey. It seems that Discovery Channel’s ‘Hollywood effect’ of shark week, while irrefutably popular, lacks the scientific impact that would benefit sharks to greater heights in the future.
Discovery Channel lobbied for anti-fining legislation
For the last 31 years Shark Week has entertained millions of audiences around the world, creating a further million-dollar effort to protect some of the worlds most threatened marine species through conservation, fundraising and potential publicity. Discovery have supported lobbying for anti-fin legislation and given scientists a platform to make real and effective changes to the shark population and the creation of marine protected areas.
Focus on shark attack survivors
Despite that, it is obvious with titles such as ‘Great White – Kill Zone’, ‘A Brush with Death’ or ‘Sharks Gone Wild’ that there is little change over the decades proclaiming shark’s innocence to their gruesome reputation by many of the public. Even in 2019 much of the allocated time-lot of the programme is focused on the stories of those who survived shark attacks and some obnoxious American narrator whose over-the-top voice is creating a pro-human instead of a shark positive perspective.
Jackass stunts do not help sharks reputation
Over the years Discovery Channel have used eager, screen-greedy ‘shark-experts’ to swim in the chum strewn waters off the Caribbean or cling to a seal decoy around Shark Alley in South Africa to appease audiences at home. These obnoxious, fool-hardy stunts are more akin to a ‘Jackass – The Movie’, and certainly do not help sharks’ reputation.
A lost opportunity
This year ‘Capsized: Blood in the Water’ will focus, with a cast of screaming, petrified Hollywood actors, events that took place in 1982 where a yacht crew that capsized are hunted by tiger sharks. Dr Stephen Kaijura, a shark expert from FAU in Florida states, “it’s really disappointing that you have so much potential with a really interesting subject and that potential is lost because they focus on sensational aspects”.
While there are segments which focus on the astounding biology of the shark, it seems that Hollywood cannot avoid the allure of making substantially more revenue by demonising sharks rather than helping benefit the oceans top predator to a greater extent.
Shark Charities to support
Here is the link to our recent blog post about shark charities worth supporting. It is easy for individuals to get involved. https://goldcoastdiveadventures.com.au/shark-research-projects-protection/