Shark Week 2020 – All Shows Reviewed

How did I do these reviews and then NOT post them to my site last year (2020)?  What could have been distracting me during that year?  I have no idea.  But, with the 2021 Shark Week in swing, I figure now’s as good a time as any.

REMINDER: I’m an author-artist (etc.), not a scientist.  The image atop the page is from my story “Monster Shark,” about a megalodon loose in a fantasy world.  It’ll be in one of my Tales of the Blue Kingdoms anthologies, coming soon (2021), and IT’S NOT A REAL SHARK nor meant to represent sharks or Shark Week.  But, I LOVE science, and I love sharks — and have for most of my life — so, I’ve been reviewing Shark Week programming for a couple of years on Facebook, and will be doing so for 2021.  (Maybe doing so will encourage some actual shark scientists to get back into reviewing the shows, too.)

My ratings go from 1 to 5 stars (or sharks), with 1 being barely worth watching and 5 being a must-see, probably with considerable good science content.

I’ll post these in the order they were broadcast in.  It’s been too long since I’ve seen them to sum up accurately, but there are more than a few       reviews, including a 5-shark aftershow (!).  Enjoy.

SUNDAY 8/9/20

AIR JAWS – ULTIMATE BREACH OFF    (of 5)

Shark Week 2020 kicks off with their famous South African jumping sharks.  Overfishing of smaller sharks and assasination by killer whales has left sharks in the area reeling.  Following a pandemic research hiatus, 3 scientists decide to have a “breach off” to see how the population is doing. A lighted decoy is among the new tools used for twilight/night sharking.  These shows always bring some great shots of sharks, but I’m not convinced that prompting sharks to jump is really scientifically important.

TYSON VS. JAWS – RUMBLE ON THE REEF   (of 5)

Celebrity Shark Week Shows are often just publicity stunts — Shaq, Michael Phelps, etc vs. Jaws.  It gets eyeballs, but not much science.  Shark expert (& attack victim) Paul De Gelder wants to recruit Tyson as a shark advocate, despite Tyson’s fear of sharks (and water).  De Gelder starts by training Tyson in a pool against an animatronic shark.  (Stunt.)  Going cage diving with Lemons’ in the Bahamas, they add Dr. Craig O’Connell & expert shark cinematographer Andy Casagrande to the team.  He doesn’t do well, but they then dive without a cage, and he does better.  They then try to put a shark in tonic immobility, and when Tyson does, they deploy a shark cam.  Big rops to Tyson for overcoming his fears and wanting to do Great Whites next, but not much science.

SHARK LOCKDOWN   (of 5)

Because of less contact with people due to lockdown, Sharks in New Zealand seem to be behaving differently.  Shark experts see this as a chance for special observations of shyer giant great whites.  They do some cages, including the small “lunchbox” cage — which nearly becomes literal, as the sharks disable the cage and almost trap the diver on the bottom.  Some tense moments and good vid, but… Science or stupidity, I’m not sure.  Some nice shark pictures, and some suspense, and they claim they found large females in the waters, possibly with recent mating scars.  That seemed to satisfy them, but didn’t do as much for me.

EXPEDITION UNKNOWN – JOSH GATES TONIGHT – SHARK WEEK SUNDAY    (of 5)

After starting with a hilarious (at least to me) JAWS parody, Josh Gates does a cross between his adventure talk show and Shark After Dark.  Yes, there are cocktails.  Interview with Tyson, okay.  Atlanta Aquarium shark exhibit is amazing and worth the whole show. Silly puppet shark. Silly dodgeball show promo, not shark related.  Interview with Air Jaws foks was good. And, yay, a bit of Bob the Shark.  Shaq preview was fun.  Overall, good, but a bit light on science and shark stuff.

Suggestion for the house band name: Mickey Finn & the Bait Skates #SharkWeek #JoshGatesTonight

MONDAY 8/10/20

ABANDONED WATERS    (of 5)

The cage-diving waters of the Neptune Islands of southern Australia have been abandoned by humans since the start of the pandemic.  More than 2 months later, shark experts go to observe the sharks, to see if their behavior has changed with no humans around.  They do some tagging and even test an electronic shark repellent, which shows promise in some tests.  (It’s nice to see a number of female scientists — often underrepresented — in this show.)  After the pandemic, there seem to be more sharks with a higher proportion of females — 14 females out of 21 sharks — though females are usually far less frequent than the males.  The team theorizes that white sharks (perhaps females especially) prefer quieter waters, away from humans.  A good show, if overly dramatic in its music and cutting.

SHAQATTACK    (of 5)

Shaq returns for his 2nd Shark Week special and recruits Dude Perfect (5 YouTube sensations) and stunt scientist Mark Rober to help.  As Shaq studies whale sharks in the Atlanta Aquarium (I need to go there), Robers & the Dudes go to different locations to (stunt) experiment.  A bull shark bites at 434 psi, enough to easily crack a coconut, the Dudes discover, they also tag one.  Robers builds a silly-looking cage with arms to put himself in a feeding frenzy, too.  The Dudes play chum ball basketball, it’s pretty silly.  And Shaq eventually swims with a whale shark in the aquarium.  Will Shaq and these other folks inspire others to come to be interested in (and love?) sharks?  I hope so, but I think maybe we could use less goofy stunts and more science.  But this wasn’t a bad goofy stunt show, and Shaq remains charming.

JAWS AWAKENS    (of 5)

In southern New Zealand, the search is on for Phred, an 18’+ male Great White.  (I note how many shows this year are from NZ and OZ, which quickly brought Covid-19 under control through smart and decisive leadership.)  The shark experts Jeff Kurr and Chris Fallows recruit crazy shark fanatic Dickie Chivell to help them — and he’s brought a bottomless mobile cage he calls “The Black Widow.”  Yeah.  Somehow, Dickie convinces less-crazy Chris to try out this cage.  They also deploy Dickie’s crazy shark-shaped scale gague “Chewie.”  They use diving, chumming, etc. to try to track down, who it turns out is now 19.5’ long.  He’s a monster of a fish, and this show has some nice shark pix, amid its sometimes amusing hijinx.  Not a lot of science, though.  And no women.

EXPEDITION UNKNOWN – JOSH GATES TONIGHT – SHARK WEEK MONDAY      (of 5)

Josh returns with a Sex on the Beach cocktail to start his 2nd night as Shark Week MCing.  His first guess is William Shatner, who talks about how he loves sharks and nature and dived with a whale shark. At age 89, Shatner is still doing amazing stuff, and this was the best show-cross promotion I’ve seen so far.  (The Unexplained.)  Shaq then talks about both his love of and fear of sharks, as a 2-time Shark Week guy, and how he wants to do Great Whites next.  Part 2 of Josh’s trip to the Georgia Aquarium features an exciting dive with their 2 tiger sharks.  Crazy Dickie Chivell drops by to discuss his nutty stunts and love of sharks.  Josh & company do a weird video — The Shark Bite Song.  And then Josh gets to cuddle zebra sharks at the GA, and the silly shark puppet returns.  Overall, though, this was a pretty much perfect after show, better than any of the actual shows so far.  And the band played us out.

TUESDAY 8/11/20

EXTINCT OR ALIVE: LAND OF THE LOST SHARKS      (of 5)

Rare species expert Forrest Galante is on the hunt for three “lost” shark species in the Indian Ocean: the whitetip weasel shark, the ornate sleeper ray, and the flapnose houndshark.  Where they’re looking is so remote that the fish show no fear of humans.  They use the usual diving, cameras, etc. to look for these sharks.  And they get blurry footage of the whitetip weasel shark.  They dive some more, nearly run afoul of some blacktips, and then a fellow diver brings them great Ornate Sleeper Ray footage.  Two “lost” sharks down, one to go.  A dangerous night dive turns up cool creatures but no lost shark, so they decide to literally fish for one.  Astonishingly, that works, and a shark not seen for 100 years is now found.  Mission accomplished.  I liked this show a lot.  It’s about science and lacks the sensationalism and fear mongering prevalent in the other offerings this year.  Best of Shark Week so far by far.

WILL SMITH: OFF THE DEEP END     (of 5)

Mega-star Will Smith is scared of the ocean and especially sharks.  (Is this a thing with people who grew up in a city, I wonder?)  Happily, Will Smith talks about his history with the water a bit, and talks about having achieved so much, he thought it time to confront his fears.  Good for him.  His dive on the Great Barrier Reef he spends in utter fear. In the Bahamas, he hooks up with shark expert (and attack survivor) Paul De Gelder.  That goes okay, so he goes to Lipari Island Italy with his family, to teach his children what little he knows about diving so far.  If he can convince his daughter Willow, his other kids will follow.  The family loves it.  “Fear kills your ability to see beauty,” Will opines.  Having gained some peace with the ocean itself… It’s shark time in the Bahamas, diving with lemon sharks and others, even tigers on “Tiger Beach.”  Will is scared.  But he believes that fear is the cause of many bad things in history, so fear must be overcome.  And he has a great time with the sharks.  This being mostly told as Will’s personal journal makes this a cut above the rest of the “I’m scared but swimming with sharks,” shows.  A job well done.

GREAT WHITE SERIAL KILLER EXTINCTION    (of 5)

Previous shows in this series have focused on whether a great white shark was returning to the California coast on a regular basis to bite humans.  This show posits that great whites are killing sea otters — even though they don’t eat them.  (I’d suggest they mistake them for seals, but we’ll see what the show thinks.)  Researchers go to Guadalupe to conduct experiments.  They set up a plexiglass “ghost raft” to float in and try to determine if sharks like to bite humans (or otters) floating on their backs.  Sharks do seem to prefer to attack prey from behind, rather than prey facing them.  The team brings some otter dummies to see what happens.  The sharks bite them, mostly to investigate, but that’s still enough to kill an otter.  Otters in a little kelp are still attacked. Otters with a lot of kelp tend to be ignored. And it is the apparent loss of the kelp forests — due to predators and climate change — that is contributing to these attacks.So, the extinction of the title might be for the otters, in case you were misled.  This show has the annoying “scary” music and narrative style that seems to be a hallmark of this series.  I’m docking a star (shark) for that.

EXPEDITION UNKNOWN – JOSH GATES TONIGHT – SHARK WEEK TUESDAY    (of 5)

No cocktail tonight, just a beer plug.  (Ugh.)  Jeff Foxworthy talks a bit about shark teeth, but he’s mostly just a new show plug, followed by a brief Glenn Sterns show plug.  (Not off to a great start tonight.)  Forrest Galante talks about his Extinct or Alive show from earlier in the evening, easily the best of this year’s Shark Week to date.  He relates how a local dive-master brought them video to identify which happened to include one of the sharks they were looking for.  Back in the Georgia Aquarium, Josh gets to swim with whale sharks and then helps to measure the sharks with a laser device.  Paul de Gelder talks about surviving his shark attack and deciding to become a shark expert and conservationist.  He also talks about working with Will Smith and overcoming fears.  The shark puppet shows up again, though I’d rather Bob the Shark came back.  To end things up they reveal a sand sculpture of Josh riding a shark. Not a bad show, after a shaky start.

WEDNESDAY 8/12/20

MONSTER UNDER THE BRIDGE     (of 5)

A 2 man, 1 woman team travels to the 7 Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys to see if they can find a legendary 20’ long Great Hammerhead shark called Big Moe.  Moe is rumored to hang around the bridge, ambushing prey ,and he may be 50 years old and 2000 pounds.  It’s theorized that a new species of hammerheads may have sprung up around the bridge pier ecosystems.  One team does diving and fishing during the day, and then dives a shipwreck at night; another dives the bridge site during the night.  There are a lot of cool hammerheads, large and small.  They tag what they can and take samples where they can.  In the end, tests prove that many of the sampled animals are related, leading the team to wonder if perhaps Big Moe is the matriarch of a family of extra large hammerheads that prefer to hunt near the bridges.  Good show.

ADAM DEVINE’S SECRET SHARK LAIR    (of 5)

Apparently, in a previous silly show (which y’all know I’m not a huge fan of), scientists putting up with… I mean “working with” Adam Devine stumbled upon the idea that perhaps an area of the Bahamas is a tiger shark “super site” or lair — that is, a place where tigers go to eat, breed, and pup.  Adam gets a big expedition yacht and a handful of silly friends to help “him” prove this theory.  They do some shark feeding on a sunken ship, play heavy bass music to summon sharks, spearfish, dive in a blue hole… and generally goof around with sciency things.  Do they prove what they want?  Questionable.  The scientists with them seem to know their stuff, and there are some great visuals.  The goofballs even seem to care about sharks.  So… The shark science primer here is good.  The comedy is not for me, but apparently some people like these guys.

GREAT WHITE DOUBLE TROUBLE     (of 5)

Scientists have discovered that there are 2 distinct populations, “tribes,” of great white sharks in Australian, and one could be deadlier than the other — 22 human deaths on the west coast, only 4 on the east.  (Though they point out that it is known that great whites do not deliberately attack humans.)  Paul de Gelder and Riley Elliott try to test both groups and find what’s up in the 2 genetically different groups.  Riley goes for the east; Paul goes for the west, and both find some very big sharks, so size is not the difference.  Bite force?  West up to 4500 newtons; East up to 4600 (about 1000 psi) — virtually the same.  Almost by accident, Riley finds a spot where both sexes and all sizes are in the same place at the same time.  Could this be a mating ground?  But the hunting tests show that adults in both areas attack with great power (whereas juveniles will make smaller exploratory bites).  The theory now is that the east coast areas are more likely hits by juveniles, while the west is more likely to be adults, which accounts for the difference in fatalities.

EXPEDITION UNKNOWN – JOSH GATES TONIGHT – SHARK WEEK WEDNESDAY     (of 5)

After goofing around in a shark costume, Josh makes The Electric Shark cocktail.  First guest is Ruby Rose, who talks about liking megalodons, being in MEG, and having a friend sexually assaulted by a dolphin.  She can also hold her breath for more than 2 ½ minutes — up to 3:50 really, but she admits that if you relax into that too long, you’ll pass out and drown.  She also has a Ninja Turtle tattoo, which from the brief glance I got looked like Leo, and of course that makes me feel connected to her.  Rick Chomp, the shark puppet, is back with Shark Week holiday traditions — which are pretty funny for a change.  And then we get a section about Jim Belushi’s pot farm — and we all know how much I like non-shark stuff in these shows.  Yeah.  Though he does have a house on Martha’s Vineyard (where JAWS was shot).  And talking about his late brother, John, is touching.  Josh then does more Georgia Aquarium fun,  He feels a whale shark, a green sea turtle, and Diego the Sea Lion.  My friend Gail says there’s a TV show about this place, and I must see it!  Tristan Guttridge from Monster Under the Bridge drops by and talks about shark conservation and coming face-to-face with sharks in their own element.  The show follows up with some Q&A and a surprise appearance by the stars of SHARKNADO, who actually like sharks.  A good show rounds out a good night of sharks — possibly the best night this year, so far.

THURSDAY 8/13/20

AIR JAWS 2020      (of 5)

This show recaps the 20-year history of the AIR JAWS  programs from their start in 2001 to the present.  They recap the jumping sharks as well as the sometimes crazy experiments they do — like the tiny camera sleds, the shark-shaped cutout that Dickie Chivell rode, and the WASP one-man camera platform that almost got Andy Cassagrande’s head taken off.  Whoops.  I had forgotten that when this crew started, most of them were almost as crazy as Dickie.  Now, of course, they’re seasoned vets, but they still come up with some wacky filming ideas — and we get gorgeous shark pictures as a result.  They’ve pushed both the tech and the danger to make people love sharks, and it seems to me they’ve succeeded to a great extent.  But a few years back, Orcas began to stalk and kill the South African great whites.  They haven’t returned, though the show has found a new seal colony that sharks are frequenting.  I’m not a huge fan of the AIR JAWS series — it seems a bit of a one-trick pony — but seeing it all strung together like this is impressive.  I loved this recap show.

SHARKADELIC SUMMER     (of 5)

Shark enthusiast and rap superstar Snoop Dog narrates this show about the comeback of sharks in United States waters, much of the time through home-video clips.  The show looks at both West Coast and East Coast encounters. Tristan Guttrige is checking out what kind of sharks are off the Florida coast.  Ye, there are even whites.  Craig O’Connell patrols the white shark nursing ground off of Montauk, NY.  He puts a fin-cam on a blue while a white prowls nearby and conjec tures that sharks stop here between feeding in Cape Cod and Florida.  Greg Skomal continues to tag Cape Cod sharks, even when a white tries to grab him off his boat’s pulpit.  Yow!  (BTW, closed captioners,  you need to learn how to spell Greg’s last name!)  He then tracks them with buoys and satellites.  Greg figures there will eventually be 500-600 white sharks known to be swimming off the Cape.  (They now have 400.)  Protecting both seals and sharks has allowed the US populations of both to rebound.  With all the new technology, Skomal and the rest say it’s a great time to study sharks.  This is a fun show, even if the home-video outweighs the science.

MAKO NATION      (of 5)

New Zealand has one of the largest populations of mako sharks in the world.  Riley Elliott has been studying makos for 10 years.  He plans to start in close to shore and then move out all the way to the continental shelf, to see how the population changes.  With him, he brings expert shark cameraman, Andy Casagrande.  They jump into the water near Castle Rock, 5 miles offshore, and immediately attract numerous makos.  The sharks are very fast, and the big ones are definitely interested in the humans, who quickly exit the water.  In open ocean, they chase the fastest fish: tuna, marlins, and swordfish.

At Mayor Island, 20 miles offshore, the sharks are even bigger.  Makos are strong, fast, and smart.  The team has a huge swordfish decoy to test how makos attack.  As theorized, the mako attacks the decoy’s tail to disable it, and then goes for the body.  A bite force experiment shows the mako maxing out the meter at 3000 psi, or 13,000 Newtons; bull sharks have only 6k; white sharks have 10k.  The strongest bite force ever measured is the salt-water croc at 17,000 Newtons.  This is the 2nd strongest bite ever measured.Next, they attach a fin-cam — by hand — which gets their boat punctured, but shows the mako diving into dark waters.

The final stop is the edge of the continental shelf, where the sharks are even bigger (and faster).  There, it’s the shark from below that can kill you before you even see them coming.  Riley uses a Plexiglass cage to protect himself during this dive and their “chumsicle” attracts numerous 12-14’ adult makos.  A good show, highlighting new information about an interesting but little understood shark.

EXPEDITION UNKNOWN – JOSH GATES TONIGHT – SHARK WEEK THURSDAY   (of 5)

The final Josh Gates show of the week starts with another fun JAWS parody sketch.  They finally name the shark house band: Breach Boys.  (Not bad.)  Last cocktail of the week is the Shark Attack.  First guests are couple Bo Derek and John Corbett.  (Bo was in Sharknado 3; John was in 47 Meters Down Uncaged.)  These two are urging people to start eating shark-fin soup and other wild animals products — www.WildAid.org.  Next  tests a SeaBreacher — a shark-shaped power boat-sub thing, which can breach 12’ out of the water.  It looks awesome (if not very eco friendly).  Puppet shark Rick Chomp makes his final appearance.  Clearly he’s more impressive in person than on TV.  I preferred Bob the Shark . Next up is Amber and Serena Shine (the Wild Twins) talking about Naked and Afraid with Sharks 2 (coming Sunday).  They say what they miss most is something soft to sleep on.  They did N&A in Africa before, and now have done a desert island in shark-infested waters.  They’re cute, so maybe I’ll watch (though I find the censorship blurs annoying — Why not just make it Bikini & Afraid and avoid a lot of special effects?).  A final trip to the Georgia Aquarium has him health checking Spotted Eagle Rays with the staff.  One ray turns out to be pregnant.  Yay!  Bob the Shark does show up in the viewer mail segment.  Yay again!  Then it’s a preview of weekend shark shows, and a final bit of music, and…  We’re out.  Not bad, and a pretty good week for this “new” show, overall.

FRIDAY 8/14/20

ALIEN SHARKS: FIRST CONTACT      (of 5)

Shark researchers are combing the deep for unusual (and new) types of sharks. Dr. Mareike Dornhenge goes to Japan to meet local experts Koji Ishikage and “old man of the sea” Hasagawa-san and to plumb the depths of Suruga Bay, near Tokyo, for “living fossil” frilled sharks.  First, they catch a kitefin shark, an “alien” relative of the cookie cutter shark.  “Godzilla shark” the locals call it. Then they catch a rough longnosed dogfish, who astonishingly gives birth to 20 pups in their catch and release tank, something never seen before and a record.  Next they catch a gulper shark and then a bird beak shark and then a leaf scale gulper.  More follow: roughskin dogfish, a bluntnosed six gill shark, and then another–a baby– which Hasagawa-san bravely helps get a tissue sample of.  Then, a fisherman across the bay catches a frilled shark, and the crew hurries to it.  Sadly, when they reach land, it is already dead.  But they take samples, and will have to try again someday.

Elsewhere, in Prince William Sound Alaska, the Pacific sleeper shark is the goal of Paul Clerkin and Taylor Chapel.  They want to put a camera on the shark to see how it feeds.  A baited line, though, brings a salmon shark near their boat which they observe scratching parasites off its back with a log.  Paul sends a baited camera rig into the deep and briefly see a sleeper.  Then they catch one on a line, but it slips off, and the underwater cameraman, Tony, risks his life to re-hook it.  They get about a day’s worth of fin-cam footage, and the underwater footage seems to indicate they scavenge for their food, perhaps because their eye parasites blind them.

Next, Paul goes to Hawaii, looking for the cookie cutter shark.  No scientist has ever seen a cookie cutter biting its prey.  They take circular bites from their prey, and occasionally humans.  The team night dives to see if they can find one; they can’t  The following night, they try just a baited camera rig.  But a small cookie cutter takes a bit, and somehow avoids the camera.  The quest will have to continue another day, and I look forward to another of these excellent shows.

LAIR OF THE GREAT WHITE    (of 5)

Dr. Craig O’Connell goes to western Australia’s Esperance and Salisbury Island, where there have been a lot of fatal shark attacks lately.  O’Connell and Marc Payne theorize that young sharks learning to hunt are ambushing prey, using the cave-like underwater topography for ambush strikes — hitting unfamiliar prey (like people).  An initial dive seems to bear out the idea, so they put down a 360 degree observation camera.  On a night dive, a great white bites the rope securing the cage to the boat, and things get dicey.  They abort the dive, and barely get the cage back in before the frayed rope can pop.  Marc decides to outfit the team in electrically-shielded ghillie suits and rebreathers, so they can blend in with the seaweed.  It seems to work, though the sharks home in on Craig, who is in a regular wetsuit.  So, the whole team will go stealth on the bottom and then watch as a stingray lure will try to tempt sharks out of overhangs, pinnacles, and the craggy sea floor (including caves).  And the test does prove that sharks are using stealth tactics before ambuthing their prey.  This is a good show, but had a LOT of annoying great white fear-and-suspense music and cutting.  Without that, it might have been 4 stars.

TIGER SHARK KING     (of 5)

Off Bermuda there’s a trench called the Tongue of the Ocean.  Shark researchers Dr. Austin Gallagher, Jimi Partington, and Christine DeSilva set out to try to resolve what happens to tiger sharks in this deep — particularly an assault on a 14-foot female tiger by a mysterious bigger predator.  It proves tricky, but they manage to dive and tag another big female to follow her to the entry the tigers use for the trench.  They bring in an imaging expert and a much bigger research boat, Go America, which can even launch subs.  A cage dive gives them a hint of the tigers’ canyon entrance.  And a deep sea cam turns in some amazing images of giant isopods feeding, and various deepwater sharks.  They do a cage dive combined with a sub dive, and see a 16’ six-gill shark.  The sub then stakes out the camera on the bottom and has some interesting encounters with multiple sharks, and even big tigers at depths — one of which bumps the sub.  Austin now theorizes this could be a tiger shark mating ground.  A good show, minus some style points for overly scary-suspenseful music.

I WAS PREY SHARK WEEK 2   (of 5)

I guess every Shark Week has to have humans telling stories of how they were attacked by sharks and survived — even though, honestly, most of these stories seem the same to me: I was spearfishing… I was surfing… Etc.  Lots of dramatic recreated footage, and thrumming music.  They’re so predictable that I even wrote that second example before I knew that a surfer would be part of this show.  The stories are dramatic, and in this case  the two victims were struck multiple times.  There is bravery and emotional impact here, but there’s virtually no science.  I guess these are better than no sharks at all… Or are they?  Weakest show of the week.

SATURDAY 8/15/20

SHARKS OF GHOST ISLAND     (of 5)

Dr. Craig O’Connell, Kristine Stump, Andy Casagrande, and Grant Johnson form a team investigating the sharks off of “Ghost Island” near Bermuda.  The island is deserted because it’s supposed to be cursed, and lack of humans makes it a good spot to look for sharks, and they hope to prove it’s part of a big species migratory route.  They find a nurse shark and a swarm of reef sharks right off, but they’re hoping for bigger animals.  Some great hammerheads follow, but resist being fin-cammed.  A no-cage night dive turns up a 14’ hammerhead, too, and a mystery shark, which they drop camera traps to try to uncover.  The cameras turn up bulls, lemons, and some others.  Despite bad weather, they find even more sharks, including migrating silkies.  Later dives turn up pregnant lemons and tigers.  They end up seeing 10 different species in this one place, definitely a shark hotspot.

WICKED SHARKS      (of 5)

White shark populations have increased off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Greg Skomal, Megan Winton, and other scientists from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy are hoping to figure out how to keep people safer, using a new super tag to discover how the fish hunt and which beaches are at greatest risk.  From one of the fin cams, they surmise that the great whites seem to prefer attacking beyond the local break of the surf — but that’s no guarantee.  Greg and the team keep tagging and collecting data.  They even observe a great white resting on the bottom, facing the current so it can breath, something never seen before.  Greg’s hope is to find out more about how and where the great whites hunt — so humans can avoid them.  The MO seems to be to lurk near drop-offs close to shore and attack seals from the side.  But in murky water, they may mistake humans in the hunting zone as prey.  So, avoid shallows that suddenly drop into deep water as well as waters beyond the breaking surf zone.  One of the last of the week is also one of the best.

SHARKS GONE WILD 3     (of 5)

They’ve surfed the web to bring us the wildest, craziest, and most shark-tastic videos this year, which they rank from 1 to 5 (higher being more awesome).  More than a few involve spear-fishers, known as “spearos.”  No surprise there.  Top rated: Guy gets slightly scalped and head stitches as tiger chews on his air tank valve, next to his head.   Factoid: Whale sharks can live up to 150 years!  76 shark attacks and 8 fatalities worldwide since last Shark Week; Australia seemed to have the most of both.  With the videos here mostly positive interactions, and all interesting, this is a fun way to wrap up the week.

I WAS PREY: TERRORS FROM THE DEEP   (of 5)

This set of recreations takes a look at 4 different shark attack victims, as opposed to the 2 victims in the show earlier in the week.  First victim is a surfer, away from his fellow surfers. The 2nd victim is a woman who decided not to go shopping with her friends and instead.went swimming on a Cancun beach.  The 3rd victim was attacked by a bull shark in Gulf Shores, Alabama, while on a mile and a half swim, 100 yards off the beach at 6:38 AM.  The 4th victim is a woman diving on a reef while on vacation in the Bahamas when a shark tries to swallow her arm (arms seem a theme on this show).  This woman gets a thought-activated prosthetic arm. These victims all survived to tell their grisly tales.  (Though the 1st one died in a car accident after filming.)  Again, this show has some fantastic tales and emotional moments.  But it’s an attack show.

SUNDAY 8/16/20

NAKED AND AFRAID OF SHARKS 2    (of 5)

Two couples plus one wildcard guy survivalist are stranded on 2 different desert islands where they must survive for 5 days before moving to a third island where they will spend the rest of their time.  One couple does fairly well on a windy island; the other trio suffers from swarms of sand fleas and few resources.  Then they must all meet up on the 3rd island.  What the two women don’t tell their partners is that they’re twins, and partnered in Naked and Afraid before.  (They’re both super-effective and very pretty New Zealanders, Amber and Serena — the “Wild Sisters.”)  Matt & Jeff have over 200 combined days on the show.  Alex, the final member, has far less experience (only 1 show), but combined the team has a lot going for it.  The island is pretty unforgiving, though, with almost no land-bound food resources, and the water is filled with sharks.  So, they go more hungry than not.  By Day 14, they’re all ready to brave the open ocean and be extracted 7 miles away.  But their dinghies capsize, and they’re all eaten by sharks.

Nah, only the smaller boat capsized, but they cut it free and all make it the rest of the way in the other boat.  It was a pretty fun episode, because the people were super-competent and, unlike some of the shows in this series, these people all worked together.

PERSONAL ANNOYANCE: Why even DO a show called Naked and Afraid if you’re just going to blur everything?  Why not just call it Bikini and Afraid or Nearly Naked and Afraid and save all the special effects blur time and money?  It seems silly to me, and — when this show first started — I hoped that maybe there was a foreign version without the censorship.  But, apparently not.  I guess it’s not safe to be really naked on TV anywhere in the world. Silly.

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