I'll start off by letting you know that I myself am an avid Shark Week fan – but I can't help but wonder why Shark Week fascinates so many people, year after year.
First premiering on July 17, 1987, Shark Week is a week-long series of feature television programs dedicated to sharks and their livelihoods. It may shock you to know that it is actually longest-running cable television programming event in history. During this year's 26th anniversary, Shark Week will broadcast in over 72 countries and viewership will more than likely rise from the 30 million mark hit in 2012.
Shark Week has become a beloved part of popular culture coming in at 857,200 Facebook likes and 210,001 Twitter followers (as of August 7, 2013) and even received a shout out on another popular television series – 30 Rock.
As a former resident of suburban Boston, I frequented the Cape and Martha's Vineyard and often sustained some fear while passing over "Jaws Bridge" in Edgartown as did many after the release of Jaws in 1975. This fear was mostly unfounded as, according to Florida Museum of Natural History, approximately 50-70 shark attacks are reported per year worldwide and many more people drown in the ocean every year than are bitten by sharks. Dr. Burgess and his team at The International Shark Attack File attribute the public's fear to the "media’s stereotypic characterizations of sharks, which are rife with misinformation and actively promote fear and loathing." Discovery Channel's Shark Week aims to raise awareness and respect for sharks
On the other hand, to promote this year's event, Shark Week producers took a gamble by featuring the not-so-happy demise of another sea animal – Snuffy the Seal. If you haven't seen the promo, take a look here:
While the commercial might be a bit horrific, producers realize that anyone watching Shark Week is ready for some potentially gruesome and violent visualsâ¦ even if they are promoting respect for the misunderstood ocean creatures.
Want to physically show off your adoration of the series? This year you can even wear your Shark Week apparel courtesy of TOMS and The Shark Shoe on sale now. $5 from each pair goes to support Oceana, the largest ocean conservation organization in the world, and, along with TOMS Shoes traditional business model, a child in need will receive a new pair of shoes.
How do you feel about Discovery's Shark Week domination? Will it ever get old? What does Shark Week need to keep it relevant and exciting?
“The Earth is covered by water, and sharks are in almost every bit of that water and yet, we know so little about them. Especially the great whites. When we do see them, we’re like, ‘You’re bigger than me, and more powerful. You’re the product of 450 million years of evolution, and you are, as sharks go, perfect. You win.'”