barracuda

Shark Week, Night 5 review: Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

Science, Television, Top story

lion pool

And we’re back. Sorry for the delay on these reviews, but Shark Week Live! at Lawn Gnome Publishing, and then travelling to Florida (please don’t burgle my house while I’m gone) set me back a couple days on getting to watch the shows. As I’m writing this, it’s the last day of Shark Week, Day 8 – which, kudos to Discovery Communications for discovering an extra day of the week (let’s call it Sunmonderday) to broadcast all the sharky goodness.

So, as I said, I’m in Florida, and while I haven’t had a chance to dip my toes into the ocean yet to see some sharks, I did get a chance to check out Florida Power and Light’s Manatee Lagoon, a really great ecological education spot in Riviera Beach, FL where the warm water from the power plant is discharged back into the sea (FPL actually replaced the old coal plant with a natural gas one, so the water is clean and clear). I didn’t get to see any manatees, but I did see more barracudas than you could shake a stick at.   Which is weird, because the intracoastal waterway and especially here at the plant, is using brackish water for cooling, so barracudas really shouldn’t like this, and yet, to quote Jeff Goldblum, life uh, ah, finds a way

barracuda
You yell “Barracuda!” and people say, huh, what? You yell “Shark!” and you’ve got a major panic on your hands before the Fourth of July.

Night 5, Show 1: Nuclear Sharks — 5 of 5 Shark Fins

Loved, loved, loved this show. To start, it’s got heirs to the Cousteau legacy, Phillippe and Ashlan Cousteau on an expedition in an usual boat heading to the middle of nowhere to complete a voyage of discovery, which is classic Cousteau (if you don’t know who Jacques Cousteau was, you should first be ashamed of yourself, and then look up all his accomplishments, and watch one of his specials, and read his books). Both Phillipe and Ashlan take us through the expedition logically, and we get neat background on why they’re doing this.

Which is to solve a problem I’ve wanted to understand the answer to myself. So back in the 40s and 50s, the US government tested A-Bombs and H-Bombs at the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. As a result of these late-in-the-game acts colonial aggression, there’s a 200-feet crater on the bottom of the Pacific where one wasn’t before. It was haunting to see what it left behind – some coral sand, crystal blue water, and… nothing. A few fish (some remoras who looked like they too were looking for sharks), but that’s it. Much of the other parts of Bikini are gorgeous and almost like a coral Eden. This part – it looks like as close as you to the moon as you can get without going there.

But the Marshall Islands wants to do something about that so they created a shark sanctuary! No fishing for sharks in their water. Yay! And so Phillipe and Ashland find them and they begin to start tagging the sharks to determine if they travelled from one of the father islands back to Bikini. Unfortunately, the tagging also proved that illegal, pirate fisherman are poaching sharks from the Atoll and bringing them back to the Philippines and China. At the end of the show, we get a quick visit by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who indicates the US is going to do something about this. Here’s hoping!

Phillipe and Ashlan Cousteau also fill out their wetsuits nicely, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Also, it’s weird to hear a Cousteau speak in a voice that’s like Stephen Merchant pretending to do an American accent.

Atomic Shark
In a less subtle universe, discovery would have gone with this.

Night 5, Show 2: Jungle Shark — 3 of 5 Shark Fins

This one just OK. Not bad in the science department, although working from a premise that I thought scientists had long since confirmed – that Bull sharks commonly enter fresh water rivers. This had the interesting twist of seeing how the crocodiles react to sharks in their presence. It turns out, not great.   Dr. Craig O’Connell returns and his ultimate goal is to find something that might create and effective bull shark repellent, and through the course of the show we learn it’s to find an effective shark repellent.

Mega Shark versus Crocosaurus
Seems legit.

You’ll remember Dr. O’Connell from Night 2’s “Sharks Among Us” and his cool magnetic barrier, but for a guy who loves sharks, he spends an awful lot of time trying to drive them away. He does determine that it’s feasible that a crocodile would go after a shark, using a shark decoy that I want for myself, and then he theorizes (after some interpretation of grainy footage) that it might be crocodile pheromones that might be that causes the sharks did try to avoid them. So, he manages to have a crocodile wrangled, in a fun sequence that no one actually seems to know what they’re doing, and then tests on a young bull shark that clearly had the worst day of her life.

I don’t want to spoil this for you, here, because it’s the most interesting part of the show. I’ll pop a theory I had about this down in the comments. I’m not convinced about why the crocodile pheromones might have worked.

Well, we’re in the home stretch. I’ll review Friday, Day 6’s shows “Blue Serengeti” and “Shark Bait” tonight (skipping Saturday, Day 7’s clip show BECAUSE I DON’T REVIEW CLIP SHOWS), and then one last dip into the water on Sunmonderday, Day 8’s show, “The Killing Games”. All have the potential to be really good! Let us know what you think! If you’re heading to the beach this 4th of July, has Shark Week made you more or less concerned about going in the water?

About The Klute

The Klute is an award-winning slam poet from Phoenix, Arizona, and an amateur shark conservationist. His latest book, “Chumming the Waters”, is a collection of poetry for sharks, by sharks, is available at Lulu Press and all the profits are donated to Fins Attached to help keep sharks in our dreams and in our oceans.