Shark Week — Good or Bad?
Coverage is costly when sharks are sensationally depicted
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