A Hauntingly Odd Time for the Shark?
~ Samantha Lewis
“Shark Week 2015” began yesterday on the Discovery Channel. This is the 28th year for this most talked about and most watched television event on TV. (Super Bowl not included). The week includes JAW-SOME events that watchers all across the world wait for in anticipation all year long. It is a popular time, spotlighting one of the world’s most popular creatures.
This is also the 40th anniversary of the epic movie event, JAWS, which is being played over and over again on television screens everywhere.
Odd, these anniversary events, seeing as that the news headlines have been inundated with stories of shark attacks. Seven swimmers have been attacked by the awesome beasts in North Carolina in less than a month. The most recent attack being last Wednesday, had the victim of the attack swimming in front of a lifeguard stand when a gray shark, approximately seven feet long in size, pulled him under the water and bit him on the rib cage, lower leg, hip, and hands.
From a seventeen-year-old near Waves, N.C. to an eight-year-old swimming in only knee-deep water in Surf City, the ‘Shark’ has appeared and created bloodshed. There are those who want to close beaches. There are those who want to ‘hunt’ and kill the sharks in order to restore peace (AKA: make sure not to lose summer dollars). And there are those who will not blame the sharks considering the ocean is their territory and we’re basically setting ourselves up to be bitten if we decide to enter an area that has seen shark attacks come one right after the other.
This summer has earned the title: “Summer of the Shark” and the great face with evil black eyes seems to be everywhere. If one were extremely paranoid, one would think that this all comes about at the exact same time because ‘someone’ wants to remind us all that sharks are not simply something to be celebrated on TV and in the movies. They are quite real, not just pictures on t-shirts which seems to be what they’ve become. Heck, even in the blockbuster “Jurassic World” a shark scene was implanted as an ode to “Bruce” – Spielberg’s shark that barely ever worked during filming.
Swimmers need to know that it is at this very time of year when sharks migrate north from Florida following warm water – therefore, it is not odd for them to appear in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Like most animal or mammal, sharks head to the place where the food is, and North Carolina (where the attacks have occurred) have shown large populations of herring, and sea turtles.
The Great White, as well as all other breeds, go where the balance of prey outweighs the predator. Even all the way up the eastern coast in Massachusetts, more have been seen because of the seal colonies that have grown monumentally since the passing of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. The waters are a buffet for the shark right now…
…and Shark Week is a ratings bonanza for the Discovery Channel. Fans are thrilled while science is, of course, highly upset. And these latest shark attacks make them even angrier about Shark Week. It took forever to get them to stop talking about the highest-rated program ever on Shark Week which was “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives.” The network said that the documentary about a massive shark that has been extinct for a million-plus years was a ‘fake.’ But it was a cool story that called out to viewers and had nothing to do with throwing a wrench into what science believes.
In the end, Shark Week is a television event. Period. Documentaries and stories that the public love to watch and the Discovery Channel loves to enjoy seeing the ratings raise astronomically because of. Yes, there are real attacks in the ocean that is actually the shark’s ‘home’ – not ours – which means everyone needs to be highly aware of the fact that these creatures need to be feared. After all, if you walked into a Grizzly Bear’s cave after she’s given birth, you most likely wouldn’t walk out.
And THAT’s the point.