Shark Week 2016 – A Conservationist’s Nightly Guide (Programs on Mon-Tues, June 27-28)

Posted on June 27, 2016
Written by: Samantha Whitcraft
Tags: Mary O'Malley 

Shark Week continues with another two nights of new programming. At the same time, starting June 28, you can also sign up for Cornell University’s and University of Queenland’s free on-line course on sharks, here.

We’ve provided some conservation perspective on Monday and Tuesday nights’ shows to provide you a broader understanding about the sharks presented.

Monday, June 27

 

8 pm EST – Shallow Water Invasion

9 pm EST – Jaws of the Deep

Shallow Water Invasion will focus on filming the Great White Sharks of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, a popular recreational shark diving destination. Given the title of the program, a tie-in with the newly released summer film, The Shallows seems likely. In an interview with Smithsonian.com, a shark biologist, Chris Lowe, commented on the film and how scientifically realistic it is or isn’t, saying “…this is where the Discovery Channel and movies like Jaws have done sharks a disservice. They have given the public the false impression that we’ve already answered most of the important scientific questions around sharks.” When asked about the plausibility of the film’s premise -- a relentless shark determined to eat a stranded surfer, he continued, “That was the [rogue shark] theory put forth back in the 1950’s, and we haven’t been able to shake it. For example, in Jaws, they say the shark has set up a territory and its going stay as long as there are people to eat. There’s just no good evidence that the same shark has been involved on multiple attacks on people over time.” He goes on to explain that it is unlikely that a Great White Shark would stalk a single prey animal, over a prolonged period of time, saying “a lot of these predators are smart enough to realize when they’re wasting their time… [and] white sharks have to constantly be moving, which is biologically expensive.”

Jaws of the Deep, will film and record the diving profiles of White Sharks. Here are some important points about White Sharks and Isla Guadalupe.

Photo by Mary O'Malley

 

~ The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species lists the Great White Sharks as Vulnerable. The IUCN Species Summary states, “…exploitation of Great White Sharks is primarily undertaken with the aim of trading its teeth and jaws as trophies or curios and its fins for the oriental fin trade. In South Africa offers of US$20,000-$50,000 have been made for great white shark jaws and US$600-$800 for individual teeth.”

~ Since 2005, Isla Guadalupe and its surrounding waters have been protected as a Biosphere Reserve. The Mexican Government agencies, SEMARNAT and CONANP Code of Conduct for Great White Shark Cage Diving in the Reserve strictly prohibits swimming or diving outside of a protective shark cage.

~ Great White Sharks are protected in the waters of the USA, South Africa, Namibia, Israel, Malta, Malta and Australia. The species is listed CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix II, which includes those “species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.”

~ “Jaws” has become a synonym for White Sharks. For a discussion of this including the author Peter Benchley’s thoughts on this, see our first Shark Week 2016 blog.

10 pm EST – Sharks Among Us 

This show will explore non-lethal shark deterrents, hopefully, without over stating the miniscule likelihood of shark attack.

Yearly, more people are killed by dogs, mosquitos, and car accidents, by far, than by sharks. During that same time period 100’s of thousands of sharks are killed for sport, in fisheries, as bycatch, and for their fins and other products including meat, oil, and cartilage. 

The best source of information about shark attack statistics is the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File. Regarding the 2015 shark attack statistics, their summary states, The 2015 yearly total of 98 unprovoked attacks was the highest on record, surpassing the previous high of 88 recorded in the year 2000.  [Parenthetically, the 2015 fatality rate was about half (six deaths: 6.1%) of that in 2000 (11 deaths: 12.5%)]. The numerical growth in human-shark interactions does not necessarily mean there is an increase in the rate of shark attacks; rather, it most likely is a function of the growing human population.  The actual rate of attack likely is declining owing to the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans. 


Tuesday, June 28 

9 pm EST – Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer

Clearly, it is ecologically inaccurate and ethically problematic to refer to the natural hunting behavior of any predator as either exhibiting ‘wrath’ – a distinctly human emotion – or compare those behaviors to those of a ‘serial killer’ again, a human behavioral abnormality.

10 pm EST – Air Jaws: Night Stalker

Everyone loves jumping and breaching Great White Sharks, including us. This 8th installment of the ‘Air Jaws’ series will film at night. The amazing breaching behavior is associated with False Bay, South Africa, where the species is protected.   

Enjoy Shark Week 2016 and be sure to follow Shark Savers on Twitter @Sharksavers as we live-Tweet during the shows; we’ll be using and follow #SharkWeek and #SharkWeek2016.

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