Some of us here at Needcoffee are big shark fans. Well, maybe just me. I really do understand that they’re big scary beasts. A friend of mine is so scared of them that when she had a subscription to National Geographic, she made her mom go through the magazine before her to make sure there were no pictures of sharks that would startle her. Not me. When I was growing up, I taped the Shark Week programs on the Discovery Channel every year so I could watch them again and learn from them. And now, as the summer comes to its climax, and “Shark Weak” approaches, I just yawn. This year, I checked the programming, thinking that since it was the 20th anniversary year, perhaps the shows would be good.
Sadly, what stared back at me was mostly a screen full of shark attack programs, with names like “Top Five Eaten Alive” and “Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever.” I promise not to rant too much, but this type of programming from a respected and supposedly educational channel makes me angry. Yes, they do have programs on Shark Week that aren’t about attacks, and yes, they do occasionally mention that shark attacks are not common (although you wouldn’t know it simply by looking at the program line-up), but for me, Shark Week used to be all about learning about different kinds of sharks and what they do, and simply how amazing they are, not how many people have been accidentally bitten because they are in a predator’s territory.
In response, I have compiled a few things for a Needcoffee Shark Week. No brutal attacks on surfers here, just some slightly educational and hopefully interesting things about sharks. Now that the Discovery Channel has had their turn, we’ll have ours.
First up, I have to share the book that got me interested in sharks in the first place. Shark Lady, by Ann McGovern, is a wonderful biography of Eugenie Clark, a very well-respected ichthyologist who, at the age of 85 is still diving and actively researching many marine animals, some of which are the ones whose study has earned her the title of “Shark Lady.” It is a book meant for older children rather than adults, but I still find it very inspiring. It also is a good reminder of just how far marine research has come since the days of diving with a helmet and a hose for air. If you’ve got a kid and you want to introduce them to sharks properly, I recommend you buy the book.
Next, I feel that it is always a good idea to put things into context, and what better way to learn about the world of sharks than by watching Blue Planet? This amazing documentary is, in my opinion, the best overview we’ve got that covers ocean life around the world. And, in the interest of our shark week, it shows many different species of sharks, from the well-known hammerhead to elusive six-gilled sharks of the deep. If you don’t already own it, you should. Buy the DVD set.
Finally, to put the danger of shark attacks in perspective, I present this video:
There’s plenty more to come on Needcoffee’s Shark Week. So stick around. And have some coffee!