Is it just me, or does this year’s Shark Week have more fake blood in the water than ever before? I’m not complaining; I’m just noting that Discovery has really embraced the art of the reenactment for the 22nd anniversary. (See: the clip below from tonight’s premiere, Sharkbite Summer.)
As a viewer, I have to admit the attack plan is working. Last night, after my blood pressure skyrocketed watching Les Stroud handfeed a Great White while counting down the world’s five deadliest waters — Florida topped the list, followed by Australia, South Africa, the South Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean — I tuned in for Day of the Shark II. Survivors told their stories through interviews, lengthy dramatizations, and in some cases, actual footage or photos. We got the surfers, the spear-fishermen, the shark enthusiasts who ended up sharing their cage with the head of a Great White, and a Florida man who dove off a dock to save his terrier, Jake, from a seven-foot lemon shark. (“Look, I hit the shark. Jake fought the shark. Jake battled him underwater with no air in his lungs. So Jake is my hero. I learned to love and respect that little 14-pound monster.”) In short, it was, perhaps, my favorite Shark Week hour ever. The only thing I would have changed was its running time. I wanted to hear more from the friends and relatives who risked their lives to rescue the victims, swimming that long way to shore in a blood slick knowing that the shark could return.
Should I we feel guilty for wanting to see those stories unfold? That’s something Les Stroud and I talked about in 2007, when he served as Shark Week’s emcee and hosted his special Shark Feeding Frenzy. “As people who care about the natural world, you don’t want to create a culture of fear and sensationalize a creature that needs to be protected. On the other hand, when you hear about someone having their arm chomped off while they were surfing, you can’t not want to hear that story,” he said. “I fear getting in a car and going out on that freeway more than I do getting in the water with sharks. The problem is that people die in car accidents every day. It’s not sexy anymore. A shark attack is sexy and horrific, so we gravitate toward it. It’s hard as someone like yourself or myself who’d like to see it done right, but then again say, ‘Hey, what story is this? Oh, the guy gets ripped apart? Let me see that.’ [Laughs] We’re caught.”
Do you want to see more or less carnage during Shark Week? Vote below!