Welcome back to Shark Week on Discovery, where all they do is fin.
An eight-day attack of shark-centric programming is furiously swimming your way, with 17 programs set to be unleashed from June 26 to July 3. Hostel director Eli Roth is back to chum the waters and lord over the festivities on Shark After Dark, Game of Thrones star Lena Headey will lend her voice to the latest Air Jaws special, and Jacques Cousteau’s grandson Philippe and Philippe’s wife Ashlan, bring you an exotic program whose title will make Syfy envious: Nuclear Sharks.
Warning: There is a ton of programming to sink your teeth into. But don’t get scared and run screaming out of the water because you don’t know where to start and how to prioritize. EW has outlined the entire schedule below, and asked the people behind each special to tell you what sets their program apart from the pack/school/shiver.
SUNDAY, JUNE 26
Tiger Beach (8 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: In an area of the Bahamas named Tiger Beach, shark biologist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag tracks 40 tiger sharks — the deadly creatures that are sometimes referred to as “garbage eaters” because they will consume almost anything — in an attempt to answer several questions: Where do these giant sharks mate? Where do the pregnant females gestate? Where do they give birth? Are they offended by being labeled “garbage eaters”? (That last question may not be answerable.)
IF YOU WATCH ONLY ONE SHARK WEEK SPECIAL, WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “Tiger Beach is a shallow water area in the Bahamas famed for its high number of huge tiger sharks,” says Hammerschlag. “The show documents our research team as we use a set of amazing new technologies to investigate why there are so many large tiger sharks at Tiger Beach. In fact, we employ the same ultrasound imaging technology used by medical professionals on pregnant woman in order to determine the reproductive status of live female tiger sharks in the wild. Trying to do an in-water ultrasound on a 1500-pound shark with razor-sharp teeth is no easy task, however, determining the reproductive strategies and mating behaviors of animals is important for the conservation and management of sharks.”
Return of Monster Mako (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Shark tagger Keith Poe, along with underwater cinematographer Joe Romeiro and marine biologists Greg Stuntz and Matt Ajemain, bust out the latest technology to document a live-predation of a “grander,” which is what a 1000-pound mako shark is called behind his/her back. These super-sized sharks tend to be more elusive and hunt down bigger prey, such as seals, further fueling your nightmares.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “Our team of scientists and wildlife filmmakers will put together the pieces as day turns into darkest night to try and locate, track, tag and document a rare, 1000-lb. mako shark, known as the fastest shark in the world,” says Romeiro. “Plus, you get to see me put my neck on the line and swim under the cover of moonlight to find and film one of the most Apex of all predators, alive! Before there are none left!
Isle of Jaws (10 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: After discovering that great white sharks had mysteriously vanished from the waters of the Neptune Islands off South Australia, shark cinematographer Andy Casagrande headed west and found a cluster of all-male great whites off an uncharted island. With the aid of marine biologist Dr. Jonathan Werry, the pair spend some quality time with the predators to learn all about their mating habits, because, well, who isn’t interested in underwater sex?
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “Isle of Jaws showcases a team of top shark scientists and cinematographers on an expedition of a lifetime!” says Casagrande. “With the use of the latest dive and camera technology, my team discover a brand-new great white shark hotspot never before showcased on Shark Week! Using self-propelled cages and SharkFinCams, the team explore this new hot spot and face off with some of the wildest Great White Sharks on the planet! And an entire act of this episode can be experienced in full 360-degree spherical VR ‘Virtual Reality’ both topside and underwater!
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Film director/fan of scary things Eli Roth returns as host of the late-night talk show that looks back at the best moments from the each day’s attack of programming and tees up the next day’s action.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “Shark After Dark offers the chance to discuss current shark events with all our amazing celebrity guests and shark experts,” says Roth. “As incredible as Shark Week programs are, they take an entire year to produce. What our show offers is the chance to discuss recent events like the Newport Beach shark bite and discuss why the bites are increasing and what we can do to keep people and sharks safe. We can also get into other subjects that shark week doesn’t cover, such as the tragedy of shark finning and the needless slaughter of 100 million sharks annually for fish fin soup. Also, it’s just fun to geek out and talk sharks with shark fans like Kevin Hart, Chelsea Handler, Anthony Jeselnik, and all the other amazing guests.”
MONDAY, JUNE 27
Shallow Water Invasion (8 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: There is a self-propelled shark cage called “The Explorer,” and marine biologists Mauricio Hoyos and Grant Johnson will drop it in the ocean to figure out why great white sharks are moving into the waters off Guadalupe Island at night. Could their research help explain why shark encounters are happening more often in the shallow waters along coastlines? Sure hope so.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “I will be piloting a one-of-a-kind motorized shark cage, untethered from the boat, to face off with some of the largest great whites on Earth,” says Devon Massyn, who serves as an underwater cameraperson on Shallow Water Invasion. “And then for the first time ever we will use the Explorer at night, in the pitch-black waters of Guadalupe, to track these sharks into the shallows, and the mission starts to resembles space exploration more than it does shark science.”
Jaws of the Deep (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Marine biologist Greg Skomal and the REMUS SharkCam team head back to Guadalupe to track down the world’s largest great white shark, named Deep Blue. They’re not fooling around this time, as they drop two robot subs into the water, with one of them capable of diving to 2,000 feet.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “We will show you footage of white sharks that has never been seen before,” says Skomal. “Quite literally, never before.” Adds Amy Kukulya, senior engineering assistant for REMUS SharkCam: “Only one technology, REMUS SharkCam, can take you on a special ride alongside great white sharks deepest dives in unknown, unchartered waters. Our latest scientific breakthrough with this technology debuts on Jaws of the Deep, which will blow the minds of shark enthusiasts around the world…. I have seen shark behavior that is unprecedented in the making of Jaws of the Deep. For this SharkCam expedition, we took two robots. I was certain that the smaller, 100-meter REMUS SharkCam would be attacked and mistaken to be a seal or a yellow fin tuna. However, the second, much larger SharkCam, I wasn’t so sure even Deep Blue would be brave enough to attack. But I might have been wrong. Our 13-inch diameter, 7-foot long deep- diving robot was ambushed multiple times by a very large white shark, and could very possibly have been Deep Blue.”
Sharks Among Us (10 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: As the number of encounters we have with sharks uncomfortably increase, marine biologist Dr. Craig O’Connell reveals his system that will allow sharks and humans to share the sea without deadly results. (No, it’s not a giant gray fin that you strap to your back.)
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “The show follows the development of a new shark deterrent technology that may one day allow sharks and humans to peacefully coexist,” says O’Connell. “This technology may make deadly shark culls and shark nets of South Africa and Australia a thing of the past. To top it off, I put the technology to the ultimate test where I leave the safety of the shark cage and come face to face with huge great white sharks. Does the technology work? Watch and find out!”
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)
TUESDAY, JUNE 28
Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Great white sharks are now beginning to populate the waters off the Pacific Northwest coast. What’s the reason? We have no idea — we’re not shark experts. But Ralph Collier and Brandon McMillan are, and they embark on a mission to solve this important migration question.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “In our previous Serial Killer specials we looked at a series of attacks off California’s Surf Beach, but now the investigation has gotten personal,” says McMillan. “A friend of mine was brutally bitten by a white shark off Oregon and I want to know why… Why would a massive great white shark travel thousands of miles from across the Pacific into the icy-cold waters off Oregon? Why would they migrate to an area where great whites aren’t supposed to go? The answers may surprise you!”
Air Jaws: Night Stalker (10 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Photographer and Air Jaws veteran Chris Fallows joins forces with shark expert Jeff Kurr and Dr. Hammerschlag to learn how great white sharks can hunt in complete darkness — without night-vision goggles. Your guide on this chilling mission? Lena Headey, who narrates the action.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “Together with my friend and shark photographer Chris Fallows, I have been studying the amazing hunting behavior of great white sharks at Seal Island in South Africa since 2002,” says Hammerschlag. “Over this time we have documented over 8,000 white shark attacks on seals and learned a tremendous amount about the predatory strategies of these incredible animals. However, our observations have been limited to the daytime, but we have always believed that great whites may be capable of hunting seals at night. In this show, we embark on an epic adventure using a variety of exciting new technologies, such as imaging sonar and special low-light cameras, to investigate if great whites are actively hunting seals at night, and if sharks could be using moonlight to their advantage to launch ambush attacks on seals.”
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)
NEXT: Sharks Vs. Dolphins! Nuclear Sharks!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29
Deadliest Shark (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Dr. Michael Domeier and Dr. Barry Bruce will have the rare oceanic white tip in their sights as they explore the waters off the Bahamas and Hawaii to determine whether this deadly breed has rightfully earned the label of “World’s Deadliest Shark.” (Sounds a lot more fearsome than “Garbage Eater.”)
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “The oceanic whitetip shark has killed more people in the history of mankind than any other shark on the planet, and yet it’s a shark that is virtually unknown to the public and poorly understood by scientists,” says Domeier. “I set out on a mission to determine if the oceanic whitetip is still a threat to humans, or if perhaps the tables have turned and we are a threat to the oceanic whitetip. Yes, the oceanic whitetip shark is a beautiful but potentially deadly shark, as indicated by the never-seen footage of an oceanic biting a swimmer, but there’s more to this story than one would think, and my program definitely puts this shark back on the radar!”
Sharks Vs. Dolphins: Face Off (10 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Sure, the sharks and the jets own a storied rivalry, but sharks and dolphins also have their fair share of conflict too. Of course, those Ivy Leaguers of the sea usually wind up as shark food when push comes to bite. A team led by Dr. Mike Heithaus examines the relationship between the two creatures, in hopes of answering exactly why sharks target dolphins.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “You will see sharks and dolphins as never before while we investigate the tools and tactics they use in their cat-and-mouse game of survival in the oceans,” says Heithaus. “We get hands-on with bull and tiger sharks, dive with great hammerheads, and swim with dolphins to investigate their strength, speed, intelligence, and amazing sensory abilities. Amazing footage reveals what happens when sharks win the battle, and what happens when the tables are turned!”
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)
THURSDAY, JUNE 30
Nuclear Sharks (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau journey to Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands with marine biologist Luke Tipple to check out a stretch of sea that was ravaged by Cold War-fueled nuclear weapons tests. The revived ecosystem is now home to plenty of reef sharks, which are supposedly non-migratory, which begs the literal question that they will seek to answer: Where on Earth did they come from?
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “During the Cold War the U.S. detonated 62 atomic bombs in the Marshall Islands, annihilating everything in their wake and completely destroying the ecosystem,” says Ashlan. “Just how is nature able to bounce back after total devastation? We set out on an epic expedition to find out how grey reef sharks were able to repopulate in such mind blowing numbers at Bikini Atoll. Our show has nuclear bombs, hundreds of sharks, real science, pirates and bikinis… enough said!”
Jungle Shark (10 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: This special whisks you away to Costa Rica’s Serena River, where the aforementioned Dr. O’Connell and Casagrande to study the young bull sharks who swim up the river. Why do they do it? And how do they steer clear of those giant American crocodiles lurking in the water? Could it be that sharks smell their foes? Funny you say that; this is O’Connell’s theory. Harnessing the power of olfactory science, he concocts a crocodile scent-based bull shark repellant that we’re guessing doesn’t smell like lavender or peppermint.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “As we journey through the Costa Rican rainforests, we cross paths with venomous snakes, huge 18-ft. American crocodiles, and sharks!” says O’Connell. “Not only that, my head nearly pops as I make a brand-new discovery that not only may lead to a new type of shark deterrent, but most importantly, reveals how American crocodiles and bull sharks may co-exist in the murky waters surrounding Corcovado National Park.”
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)
FRIDAY, JULY 1
Shark Bait (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Remember a few specials ago when we told you about that whole sharks vs. dolphins battle? Well, great whites and seals are far from friends as well. And as Dr. Greg Skomal and his team have found out, there’s an unusual war taking place in Cape Cod, where the sharks have learned different ways to hunt seals — when they’re not stopping for the occasional lobster roll break, of course.
IF YOU CAN WATCH ONLY ONE SPECIAL, WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “Since the passing of the Marine Mammal Act protecting seals, there has been an explosion of them all over the coasts of Cape Cod,” says Romeiro, who serves as an underwater cinematographer on this special as well: Unfortunately for them, their biggest predator has also become protected and is recovering from the brink of extinction. The great white shark has come home. To the very place that Jaws was born, the film that most hold responsible for the high popularity of sharks world wide. Watch as these two amazing animal battle through the gauntlet to fight to survive another summer in the dangerous cold waters of the Cape and not become shark bait.”
Blue Serengeti (10 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Marine biologist Barbara Block, who knows a thing or three about the white sharks swimming the seas off California, probes this dangerous world by using cutting-edge camera technology, including camera tags on sharks and their prey, who, by the way, were totally cool about signing the waiver so their faces wouldn’t have to be blurred.
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “I want to see science on Shark Week and
Blue Serengeti is real cutting-edge science,” says Taylor Chappele, a white shark scientist featured in Blue Serengeti. “It’s not just a show about sharks, it’s an exploration of the whole marine ecosystem from plankton to whales that supports some of the largest predators on the planet.” Adds executive producer Sarah Nixon: “Nine sharks, a whale and a juvenile elephant seal named Steve are our shooters! They are taking the viewer beneath the waves to reveal the unseen blue world off the California Coast — through their lens!”
SATURDAY, JULY 2
Sharksanity (9 p.m. ET/PT)
For the attention-span challenged, this is a highlight reel from Shark Week 2016 that features “the closest calls, biggest bites, and greatest gadgets,” followed by your top picks from the all-time best programs in Shark Week‘s 29-year history.
SUNDAY, JULY 3
The Killing Games (9 p.m. ET/PT)
BITE-SIZE SUMMARY: Let’s head back to South Australia, where Dr. Jonathan Werry and Casagrande marvel at a new hunting strategy used by great white sharks: Instead of waiting for the seals to hop back into the ocean, these sharks swim up to the coastline and grab them on the shore. Screw you, laws of nature!
WATCH THIS ONE BECAUSE: “We explore new and remote areas where large white sharks are almost void of human contact,” says Werry. “This provides a fantastic, genuine research opportunity and real insight into the ‘wild’ and untamed behaviors of white sharks.” Adds Casagrande: “Killing Games takes you into the mind of the shark. A lot is known about the physically prowess of hunting great whites — now we also reveal fascinating details about how they think, how they calculate their approach, how they use the sun to their advantage, and ultimately, how they are also able to attack prey on land. How crazy is that?”