Nary is a great white seen today, and that’s a good thing. I love great whites, they’re beautiful, expressive animals and it is a privilege to be in their presence, but Discovery has always gone great white heavy in their programming, and that’s disservice to what this week is supposed to mean, like they’ve forgotten the true meaning of Shark Week, which is to entertain, but also to educate. The world needs to know about all the other sharks out there, and different sharks mean different behaviors and more chances for underwater excitement. And on Shark Week 2017, Night 4, besides the hinky names and descriptions, Discovery delivers those diverse sharks in unique environments with both barrels, and we’re all the better for it.
Devil Sharks (Grade: A-)
Neat premise, great show. Scientist Mike Heithaus wants to figure out how sharks uses the Earth’s natural geography in their lives, vis-à-vis volcanoes, from their birth as they spew hot magma in Hawaii, to the dormant volcanoes of the Caribbean to the dead volcanoes of the South Seas. It’s a far-flung trip around the globe, and we see so many species of sharks along the way – from the cutest damn baby hammerhead (which shows how sharks react to magnetic fields in a lab – similar to magnetic fields produced by volcanism) to vast schools of reef sharks in Tahiti.
Along the way we meet Jess Phoenix (a vulcanologist who is one lab accident away from becoming a magma-powered superhero) who gives us a tour of an active volcano as it pours lava into the Pacific Ocean. It’s impressive footage, made all the more so as we learn how quickly these hellspouts become habitat for sharks. At the end of the show, we visit the Rangairoa Atoll to see that after the molten rock stops flowing sharks, from the tiniest pup to the full grown adult still make use in various and unique ways. It’s a heck of a ride, and I think it’ll give you an appreciation of just how everything ties together in the natural environment, right down to the rocks that line the sea floor.
Did you know that Jess Phoenix is running for Congress? She is, and she’s running on a platform of science literacy in Washington DC! We need more of that! You should check out her campaign website here!
The Lost Cage (Grade: A)
This one. Wow. From start to finish its natural beauty and science. This show has a purpose, fulfills it, and makes you want to stop what you’re doing and become a fully-credentialed marine scientist. At least I did anyway.
The group of scientists, dive masters, and photographers are on a mission: To determine if the global fishing industry’s use Fish Aggregating Devices may be affecting shark populations around the globe. FADs are floating objects (any floating object really) that fish are drawn to like moths to a flame. I touch on FADs and how damaging they can be in my new book, “Cap’n Klute’s Ocean Almanac,” but here the scientists are trying to prove that sharks will follow FADs and are at risk of becoming by-catch.
We start in shallow waters, and drift into the sea, where we come across hidden dive spots, oil rigs, all the while joined by mako sharks, hammerheads, silkies, and other species. It’s just really wonderful footage, and you feel like you are there in the open sea with them, with all the isolation and wonder that the vast ocean provides.
The Lost Cage had a lot of scientists on Twitter worried based upon the description provided by Discovery Communications to the teevee people, something about “scientists using themselves as bait,” Stop with the sensationalism. There are so many ways to describe this show, and that’s like scraping the bottom of the barrel as to what actually happened. Hell, you could have just given them the lyrics to P.M Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” and you’d probably have a more or less accurate description than the “bite bite bleed bleed” that the copy editors in Silver Springs, MD seemed to be going for.
This was as good as the Alien Sharks: Stranger Fins from Night 2, and should if you haven’t seen it, you definitely should.
That’s Shark Week 2017, Night 4.
Only 3 nights left (we’re not counting Friday’s clip show)! I think this has been one of the best Shark Weeks in a long time. I’ve almost forgotten about Great White Serial Killer Lives! Are you having a good week? Let me know!