Shark Week — Good or Bad?

Cov­er­age is costly when sharks are sen­sa­tion­ally de­picted

Sport Diver - - Predive -

As we con­sid­ered whether shark feed­ing is a good or bad thing ( page 10) and looked at great whites as a species ( page 16), we re­newed the con­ver­sa­tion in our of­fice as to whether Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s Shark Week is ben­e­fi­cial or harm­ful to sharks.

The week­long sharka­palooza — which launched in 1987 and cen­ters on shark-themed doc­u­men­taries — prom­ises to de­liver pro­gram­ming that’s re­spon­si­ble for some of Dis­cov­ery’s high­est rat­ings when the 2017 edi­tion kicks off July 23.

We at Sport Diver love sharks and en­joy the fac­tual TV shows about them, espe­cially when they’re given a plat­form like Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel. Our ob­jec­tion is to the net­work’s sen­sa­tion­al­is­tic shows, which feed into peo­ple’s fears of these fish and ul­ti­mately un­der­mine con­ser­va­tion­ists’ ef­forts to pro­tect them. It’s al­ways been eas­ier to pro­tect an­i­mals such as panda bears be­cause they ap­pear cute and cud­dly. But sharks? De­spite their cru­cial role in main­tain­ing a com­plex, healthy ocean ecosys­tem, mil­lions of sharks are slaugh­tered as the re­sult of com­mer­cial fish­ing and finning or even killed in culling ini­tia­tives de­signed to keep hu­mans “safe.”

By the time you read this piece, count­less more sharks will be lost to us. Shark Week will be sched­uled. The pro­gram­ming will be set. And we can al­most guar­an­tee it — some of it will be in­ac­cu­rate and un­fair to the an­i­mals them­selves. If you love sharks, con­tact the net­work and tell it what type of pro­gram­ming you pre­fer.

Go to cor­po­rate.dis­cov­ery.com/ con­tact/viewer-re­la­tions, and fill out the form. Tell Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel why sharks mat­ter. — Pa­tri­cia Wuest, Edi­tor-in-chief

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