Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’ hopes to enchant and delight viewers

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NEW YORK — If you think you can safely avoid sharks by simply staying out of the water, think again.

A few species of epaulette sharks have evolved to move their pectoral fins forward and their pelvic fins back to walk out of the water at low tide. Just to be perfectly clear: it’s on land.

Relax, no one will chase you home. They just squirm.

“They don’t sprint. There are no ankle biters coming for anyone. It’s just this fascinating behavior that’s happening,” says wildlife advocate and biologist Forrest Galante.

Papua New Guinea’s so-called walking sharks are among this year’s stars Shark Week, with 25 hours of programming dedicated to all varieties of apex predators on the Discovery Channel and streaming on Discovery+ starting Sunday.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be the week’s recurring emcee – the first such role in 34 years of Shark Week. Celebrities with shows include the stars of truTV’s “Impractical Jokers,” the cast of “Jackass” and comedian Tracy Morgan making her Shark Week debut.

Morgan teams up with shark experts — including her shark-crazed 9-year-old daughter, Maven Sonae, who has a 20,000-gallon aquarium in her backyard — to identify the wildest and wildest in the ocean. “She’s my best co-star ever,” Morgan says. “She’s always been into sea life since she was a baby.”

Programming includes a look at giant makos off the Azores, great whites off Cape Cod and South Africa, hammerhead sharks in the Bahamas, mysterious cold-water sharks in Alaska and tiger sharks in the islands Turks and Caicos.

As always, there’s a deep respect for creatures and solid science under the fun titles and premise, like “Jaws vs Kraken”, “Dawn of the Monster Mako” and “Great White Serial Kill: Fatal Christmas”.

“Sharks are an incredibly vital part of our ocean. And as a scientist and a science communicator, I want to do everything in my power to spread awareness about the wonderful, interesting and unique creatures that they are and the importance of protecting these creatures,” says Galante, whose ‘Island of Walking Sharks’ is on the air. Wednesday.

One of the most spectacular sights is never-before-seen footage of a pack of killer whales killing a great white off the coast of South Africa. “It’s just such an incredible but very grim and disturbing set of events,” said Alison Towner, marine biologist at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. “I think it’s really going to blow the world away.”

Towner is also part of the female-led show “Shark Women: Ghosted by Great Whites,” which attempts to unravel the mystery of why large white populations are thinning out and spotlights Zandile Ndhlovu, the first instructor from South Africa.

“Let’s be honest, there are a lot of men at Shark Week. And not all demographic groups were always represented. She comes in as a genuine South African woman and she had that opportunity, and that to me is a very important part of the show,” she says.

There is also a new entry in the “Air Jaws” series of large airborne whites. “Air Jaws: Top Guns” is the 15th show featuring the ancient beasts leaping out of the water to attack their prey or a decoy.

“What I’m trying to do with ‘Air Jaws’ is give people an appreciation for these animals,” says veteran filmmaker Jeff Kurr. “You fall in love with these sharks because they are so beautiful and what they do is so amazing.”

Kurr also presented the 90-minute documentary “Great White Open Ocean,” which focuses on shark diving expert Jimi Partington as he struggles to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. developed following a recorded and near-fatal encounter with a great white shark. shark in 2020.

“We captured footage where he was hit by a 16ft great white, thrown into the air – the shark with its mouth open, literally an inch away from him – and somehow, he survived without a scratch,” Kurr explains. “Always when I look at him I have heart palpitations. I was there. I was standing there watching this happen and I thought he was dead.

Discovery’s “Shark Week” has a rival – its lineup coincides with National Geographic’s “SharkFest,” which boasts nearly 30 hours of new content. But this year marks the first Shark Week since the founding of media giant Warner Bros. Discovery, which can leverage offerings from its various assets, including HGTV, the Food Network, TBS, TLC, CNN, HBO and HBO Max.

Nancy Daniels, chief content officer at TBS, TNT and Discovery, called Shark Week “a big pop culture event” and “the tentpole of the summer”. This year’s lineup is “a great time for us as a company to show what we can do and a strength of who we are now as Warner Bros. Discovery.”

The Food Network is getting in on the action with recipes for Shark Banana Pops, a Shark Diorama Cake and No-Churn Shark Ice Cream. CNN will rebroadcast “Great White Open Ocean.” TBS will host a shark cage wrestling match, and on TNT viewers can watch a Shark Week-themed monster movie marathon. There are even two shark-shaped airships flying on each coast.

“It’s a privilege to work on something that speaks to so many people in slightly different ways,” said Josh Kovolenko, senior vice president of marketing at Discovery. “If you’re a fan of conservation, if you love science, if you’re just into pop culture and want to be part of something everyone’s talking about, a summer phenomenon, we’ve got this for you.”

Shark Week was born as a counterpoint for those who developed a fear of sharks and a desire to eradicate them after seeing “Jaws”. It has become a destination for scientists eager to protect an animal older than trees.

“Shark Week allows me to share my work on these amazing stories with millions of people,” says Galante. “I want millions of people to fall in love with sharks. And that’s what Shark Week allows me to do year after year.

Marc Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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