I’ve been a fan of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week since I was a kid. I can remember making a big bowl of popcorn and settling in night after night for an evening with the sharks. I’ve been obsessed with all things sharks since I first heard that famous Jaws theme. In hindsight, I was probably a little too young to watch that movie. But my dad loves film and just wanted me to watch a great movie with him, so I can’t really be mad at him. I was a little upset when he let me watch The Exorcist and I basically didn’t sleep for a week, but that’s another story.
Over the past few years I’ve noticed some growing concerns about Shark Week, and I can’t say that I entirely disagree. Some of the shows that air during Shark Week do nothing but promote fear. The experts don’t always seem genuine and some of the “documentaries” are just plain ridiculous. And I’d have to agree with this Vox video when it says: “these shows about shark attacks are great for making people scared of sharks, but they don’t do much for making people care about them.” At a time when sharks could really use some love, it’s a little irresponsible of Discovery to air these types of shows that do nothing but perpetuate shark myths.
While I think it’s great that so many people enjoy Shark Week as entertainment, I really hope that the people who are interested in learning the truth are seeking out the right information from trustworthy sources, such as the shark biologists and conservations featured in this list. And, if you’re a book nerd like I am, you can also check out some of these shark reference books to learn more about these important and misunderstood fish that have fascinated me for my entire life.
The Shark Handbook: The Essential Guide for Understanding the Sharks of the World
by Dr. Greg Skomal and Nick Caloyianis
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Great White: The Majesty of Sharks
by Chris Fallows
Sharks and People: Exploring Our Relationship with the Most Feared Fish in the Sea
by Thomas P. Peschak
Great White Shark: Myth and Reality
by Alexandrine Civard-Racinais, Maud Fontenoy and Patrice Heraud