Popping It Like It’s Hot: Shark Week Day 5

It finally happened. I talked my therapist’s ear off about sharks. I wore my Sharknado shirt to our virtual appointment and was told “That’s an interesting shirt.” That opened the floodgates. I gave her an in depth description of my love of sharks and Shark Week, as well as some of my Shark Week rituals. I had to stop myself before I started rambling about shark science so that we could actually talk about the things I came to therapy for. I might have a problem.

Oh well, time for more Shark Week.

Sharks make everything better – even working from home.

Dr. Pimple Popper Pops Shark Week: When I first saw this title in the lineup I rolled my eyes. How on earth were they going to link Dr. Pimple Popper with Shark Week? And then it all made sense – shark skin. Oh, and of course there were plenty of interludes to showcase her work on human skin. Dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee accompanied marine biologist Dr. Austin Gallagher on an expedition to study shark skin. And, because she has experience with surgeries, Dr. Lee assisted with a minor shark surgery that involved tagging and collecting a biopsy. Since TLC and Discovery are owned by the same parent company, it makes sense that they would want to cross pollinate like this in order to encourage viewers of both channels to watch the shows of the other channel. From an entertainment perspective, I actually really enjoyed this. And I think it’s a great idea to have the special guest be skilled in a specific trade. Dr. Lee’s surgical skills were well suited to the expedition, so she didn’t end up looking like just a helpless celebrity guest, fearfully swimming with sharks. She could conceivably participate in this kind of research in the future. I wonder what other specialized celebrities and tv personalities would be a good fit for scientific expeditions.

Sharkadelic Summer 2: Snoop Dogg is back as the best Shark Week narrator I’ve ever heard. His narration in this clip show was witty and funny, just like last year. And honestly, what’s not to love about Snoop Dogg? But this wasn’t just a clip show this year. I’d say that more than half of the show followed various scientific expeditions to investigate the rise of shark sightings in the US. The good news is that shark populations are on the rise in that area, but that also means that there are increased interactions with humans – hence, the clips of human/shark interactions. Although some of the silly close encounters may seem a little nerve wracking to those involved, the scientists featured in this program – as well as Snoop – drove home the point of Shark Week. These apex predators are worthy of our respect, but also our love and admiration. Although people should be cautious around sharks, there’s no need to be afraid of them. And as much as I love Snoop Dogg’s narration of the Sharkadelic shows, I’m still hoping that one day we might see him get in the water with some sharks.

Next Shark Week look is based on the Tiger Shark! This opportunistic hunter has a reputation as a “garbage eater” because it will eat just about anything it comes across – including man-made objects.

Mega Jaws of Bird Island: This was basically the serious show for the Air Jaws crew. Not that Air Jaws isn’t great, but it’s nice to see these Shark Week regulars do some actual science. Chris Fallows, Alison Towner, Enrico Gennari, and Dickie Chivell banded together to answer a very important question: where are the breeders? After the orca killing spree a few years ago, when they hunted great whites for their livers, the breeders (sharks old enough and big enough to reproduce) went missing. And given that the orcas in question have been spotted since, this does raise concerns about the well-being of the local shark population. The team went out to a remote island in South Africa that has been virtually untouched by human presence in order to find these sexually mature sharks that were driven out by the orcas. They were also looking for a specific mother shark who had been spotted by fisherman Lloyd Edwards. Although there were plenty of gorgeous great whites featured in this episode, there were no breeders at Bird Island, only juveniles. Thankfully, some searching around at other locations yielded promising results: they found a large mother shark who is sexually mature and capable of breeding. She might even be the one spotted by Lloyd. I do hope we get follow up shows of this particular saga in the years to come. I really want to know if the great white population is able to bounce back after the damage the orcas caused.

I am so fortunate and so grateful that my favourite animal is featured in so many films, and has a whole week of television programming dedicated to it. I truly hope that Shark Week will continue to inspire love for these animals so that we can do a better job of protecting them. I’m not asking everyone to love them as passionately as I do, I just want for us to stop needlessly killing them. We don’t need to be afraid of sharks, but we should be afraid of losing our oceans’ apex predators.

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