Shark Week has come and gone. And most of it won't be missed. The celebrity gimmick shows are just painful. It's cruel to make humans watch that. It's cruel to make SHARKS watch that. The search for an individual shark, inevitably dubbed "monster," or "killer" something, occasionally produces some good footage (there was a great shot of a really big hammerhead in "Monster Under the Bridge") but not much else.
One of the keepers was Extinct or Alive? Land of the Lost Sharks. Forrest Galante took us in search of three sharks (two sharks and a skate, actually), on the southeastern coasts of Africa. The diving shots are really nerve-wracking. This seems to be the place the term "shark-infested waters" was born for. Sometimes you can hardly see the divers. But success is theirs: the quarry is caught on video in all three cases, and we learn a lot as we go.
|Pacific sleeper shark (not from Shark Week show) (NOAA)|
The other one was Alien Sharks, which has been the only reliably informative show from this school. Sure there's slightly overdone narration and a reminder of who can be the prey here (I never knew a human had been bitten by a cookie-cutter shark: it's not pretty.) Dr. Mareike Dornhege and a Japanese crew look for the utterly weird goblin and frilled sharks,among other rare deep-water species. The little-known longnose dogfish stole the show by giving birth in a tank on the boat.
The biggest deepwater shark is the sleeper shark, reaching 8 m or more, and Paul Clerkin and Taylor Chappel lead an expedition to Alaskan waters to study them. (Kudos for featuring Dornhege and Clerkin: I'm not an advocate of saying "we need a black guy on this show and an Asian woman on this one," but lineups of these events all too often imply all shark scientists are white guys.)
Clerkin finds his sleeper shark, and adventure ensues as they put the first-ever video tag on a sleeper shark and get a look at its world. Actual science! (more on Aalskan shark science here)
Oh, and my dad sent over this reminder that, yeah, sometimes we are prey. We kill millions of sharks a year, but they don't take it personally. Usually. And when a human does get bitten, we need to remember they are just being sharks. If you're on the Serengeti plains, you watch out for lions...
Hoping for more good stuff next year.