So here we are on night 3 of Shark Week, and so far, I’ve really enjoyed it. Only one clunker so far (looking at you Great White Serial Killer Lives), and a lot of it has been pretty great. Tonight’s premise is interesting. Two different American cities on the Left and Right coast are seeing a resurgence of great white sharks in their midst, and why (seals) and what that might mean for the future (more sharks). So we bounce between L.A. and New York, with side trips to Isla Guadalupe and South Africa.
Dare I say: Am I getting bored with great white sharks?
Sharks and the City: LA (Grade: B)
The Great Whites of Southern California have been in the news lately, what with speculation of a great white nursery off the coast of Manhattan and Huntington Beaches and that cool aerial footage of the big great white/paddleboarder rumble. The show briefly makes the point that because of the success of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (a big government environmental program that saved so many American marine mammal species), seals and sea lions have come back so naturally more prey animals means more sharks.
Pretty cool video this is.
I think the most interesting take away from this hour is that there might be a nascent, permanent great white population that doesn’t need to go to Isla Guadalupe to pup/mate/feed.
And to prove that point, we’re off to Isla Guadalupe!
There’s actually some pretty thrilling moments at Guadalupe when Dr. Hoyos has a dive emergency and has to surface solo in 90 feet of water where great whites may or may not be hunting, and we learn a lot about great white shark interactions (some of which I got to witness personally on the 2015 expedition to Guadalupe including parallel swimming and jaw-flexing), but, and I know this sounds weird, especially coming from me, we’re returning to well-covered ground. We get an understanding of why the sharks in LA may be there (they might be getting intimidated out of Mexican waters by the bigger sharks), but it doesn’t really sell its “SHARKS IN LA!” premise. It’s still a fun hour of TV though.
Sharks and the City: New York (Grade: a darker shade of B)
Like LA, New York City is seeing more and more shark activity, but unlike LA, New York City is also seeing all kinds of new animal activity from forage fish to seals to humpback whales. This, as the show similarly glosses over like they did in the LA version, is due to increased environmental protection. That’s something these shows REALLY need to hammer home. None of this stuff is occurring by accident. It’s happening because of big government programs to clean up the pollution that was inevitable in the cities of the past. The fact that you see the Freedom Tower clear as a bell over a city that was once shrouded in smog should not be lost on anyone.
What’s also different about NYC from LA is New Yorkers themselves. Whereas in LA it’s all surfers and paddleboarders, in NYC it’s your garden variety straphanger who is dealing with the sharks, and as the show points out, New Yorkers are tough.
Basically, it’s seals leading the sharks, and the goal of the episode is to have you do a thought experiment about what New York would be like with more sharks (see above). They go to South Africa where the coasts look remarkably like those of the, and I’m not making this up, New York Bight where the sharks live. Dr. Craig O’Connell believes the two are similar enough to make a template of what we could expect (it’s gonna be fine, people), and for the second time this week, a shark cage starts slamming into the sea floor with people inside. Damn, Discovery, pay for an extra cable or something.
Dr. Craig O’Connell is then back in New York where he catches and tags an oh-so-cute baby great white to prove that there might be a shark nursery in the New York Bight. It’s another fun hour of TV, and made all the more so with the insufferablity of New Yorkers proclaiming that they’re tough. They should digitally inserted taxi cabs and pizza slices just to re-enforce that point.
It’s narrated by Chris Noth of Law and Order and Sex and the City fame, which I’m only mentioning so I can make a 14 years-too-late Sealab 2021 joke.
So, Shark Week 2017, Night 3, is in the books.
So far nary a megalodon in sight! Let’s hope it stays that way, right?
What did you think? Where would you rather live? In Sharknado 1 (LA) or Sharknado 2 (NYC)? Let me know in the comments!