Like a shark to chum-filled waters, Americans have been lured to the small screen each summer to catch a glimpse of the world's deadliest predator in Discovery's Channel's Shark Week. Twenty-five years and 26 million annual viewers later, this underwater adventure is still on the top of the food chain of summer TV.
25 Years of Fact vs. Myth
What started out as a marketing whim to boost ratings for a new network back on July 17, 1988, turned into a cultural phenomenon shaping the way millions of people view these mysterious and inspiring creatures. Making the shift from sensationalistic to scientific, Discovery Channel has partnered with leading experts in marine biology and underwater cinematography to dive deep into the behavior and myths surrounding sharks.
This year internet celebrity and journalist Philip DeFranco will be hosting, following in the wetsuit-wearing footsteps of celebrities before him including: Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from MythBusters, Les Stroud, host of Survivorman, The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson and SNL's Andy Samberg.
Quest for the Best
With flying sharks, 3-D dives and plenty of jaw-tastic footage, Shark Week manages to top itself each season, constantly pushing the envelope to get the next great shot. Traversing the waters of Seal Island South Africa to San Francisco's very own Golden Gate Bridge, teams of cameraman and scientists embark on a quest to study the travel patterns of these stealth-like beasts and capture the art of their catapulting feats through the air.
There's big and then there's really big. Tracking down a 14-foot great white shark named Colossus, who dominates the water of South Africa is one thing, erecting a mechanical replica of the prehistoric Megaladon is quite another. The aptly named Sharkzilla is a recreation of the 60 foot long, hundred thousand pound beast that used to roam these oceans. With the help of a team of engineers, paleontologists and the Mythbusters crew, viewers can vote on items for Sharkzilla to crush and put these chompers to the test.
Before there was Shark Week, there was Jaws, spawning man's modern fascination and fear of the ocean. Shark Week takes a look back at Steven Spielberg's 1975 summer blockbuster that not only changed the way movies were made, but shaped the fate of an entire species. After its release, great whites were marked as mankind's number one suspect and hunted almost to the point of near decimation from the eastern seaboard. While at the same time, the public's fascination led to a resurgence of shark science that continues today.
Stories of Survival
Part of Shark Week's enduring popularity is linked to the danger and savage power of these deadly predators, but the show also shares the stories of the victims who have come eye to eye with them. From two WWII soldiers who survived 47 days in infested waters to the survivors of recent attacks, audiences will learn how to avoid becoming the next meal but also how tragedy can turn into an understanding.
Tune in Sunday, August 12, to see another year of daring footage from oceans around the world and rediscover the best moments and behind the scenes footage of 25 years of Shark Week. So, are you ready? How do you think they'll top themselves this year?