Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shark Week Approaches: annual event nears; alternatives to sensationalism

Over the next couple of weeks, those of you who watch Discovery will be seeing advertising for the channel's annual Shark Week programming that takes place in the first week of August. For over 20 years this has been one of Discovery's most successful programming events with tens of millions of viewers - from die hard fans to the mildly curious.

For some shark advocates, the week's programs and the images they convey of the shark have been a source of disdain. Over-sensationalized programs that focus on shark attacks involving humans perhaps appeal to a dark, lower common denominator interest in sharks but it is one that represents, unfortunately, a wide segment of the Shark Week viewing audience. Discovery knows this very well.

What is in store for Shark Week 2010 is, at this point, anyone's guess - the Discovery Shark Week website is currently still listing last year's show schedule. Whatever it turns out to be, there are alternatives that can provide accurate representations of sharks and the efforts of those scientists dedicated to studying them - educational, enlightening presentations while still entertaining.

So, in a shameless plug, may I suggest Island of the Great White Shark. This award-winning documentary, which I produced in 2008, features the great white sharks of Isla Guadalupe, Baja, where I have been filming these magnificent predators/scavengers for over 6 years. The film paints a more realistic and natural portrait of the feared and often misunderstood white shark, while also documenting the efforts of dedicated researchers who study the sharks' day-to-day behaviors to better understand how best to protect and conserve them. The film also shows shark eco-tourism operators supporting the researchers' efforts while providing divers with a unique experience to see white sharks in the open ocean - something that has been responsible for generating many new shark supporters.

The Island of the Great White Shark DVD is available through and several aquarium gift shops nationwide. If you have purchased the DVD in the past, my thanks. If not, then learn more at the film's website and think about adding it to your DVD collection. Independent documentaries are generally not big money-makers for those involved - they usually are labors of love with participants dedicated to getting their message across. With Island of the Great White Shark, I am always hoping that someone will see these animals that are so critically important to a healthy marine ecosystem in a different light - one that will help to insure their continued survival.

Learn more at the Island of the Great White Shark website.
Learn more about the film at

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