Keep Calm and Love Sharks

Duunnn dunnn... duuuunnnn duun... duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun…. Today kicks off Shark Week!

Shark Week is an annual celebration of the misunderstood fish and mostly takes place in a week-long TV programming at the Discovery Channel. Shark Week started in 1988 and was devoted to education and conservation efforts as there were (and, sadly, are) misconceptions about sharks. Unfortunately, television is ruled by ratings so the Discovery Channel started airing sensationalistic programming based on more fiction than fact to increase viewership around 2010. This resulted in shows such as Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine and Lair of the Mega shark. The program Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives pushed conservationists over the edge as the mockumentary, presented as a documentary, was about an ancient giant shark that has long been extinct. People began boycotting the network. Network president Rich Ross said, in 2015, he’d remove this kind of programming from future Shark Week line-ups. Even though, cough cough, Discovery promoted a race between Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and a Great White shark (the shark, as it turns out, was computer generated. More Fake News!).

Humans creating drama doesn’t do much to help sharks. Few sharks are dangerous to humans and, out of more than 470 species, only four have been involved in attacks on humans (this includes the great white, oceanic whitetip, tiger, and bull sharks). Apparently, to help avoid attacks, humans should not wear jewelry or metal that is shiny while swimming, or splash around too much. Basically, don’t act like a lure.

In SeaLuxe’s home province of British Columbia, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has documented 14 species of sharks. This includes the two-foot long brown cat shark to the gentle but hulking 33-foot plankton-eating basking shark. The great white has also made appearances in B.C. waters and we can expect to see more appearances, thanks to warming ocean waters.

“Based on my team’s computer simulation modelling, we found that climate change will cause an expansion of the range of great white shark to northern temperature areas, including the offshore waters of the northeast Pacific, which includes B.C.,” William Cheung, associate professor at UBC’s Institute for Oceans and Fisheries told the Vancouver Sun newspaper. 

This week’s programming is hosted by former NBAer Shaquille O’Neal who gets over his fear of sharks with help from ex-Marine and comedian Rob Riggle.

If you’re an ocean-lover like we are, you can check it all out on the Discovery Channel or download the Discovery Channel app where episodes can be streamed free with a TV subscription.