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The Return of Monster Mako
The first line of this episode is: "On a night like this, when the moon hangs full...it's prime feeding time." That was all Discovery needed to get me hooked. (Get it?! I'm here all night, folks.) This special is all about the mysterious mako shark — the ocean's "greatest nocturnal hunter," with "eyes the size of saucers and teeth that will tear flesh from bone." Gulp.
The episode kept me on the edge of my seat as the filmmakers set out in search of "grander makos." Regular ol' makos are a sporting fish weighing in at a cool 300 pounds, but fisherman have long told stories about the 1,000 pound, 3-foot-wide grander — or "monster" — mako, which is created when a mako fish mates with a shark. "They're like bodybuilder makos," says one fisherman. Double gulp.
We clutched our pearls watching the team traipse around Catalina Island on a scavenger hunt, following a trail of half-eaten sea lions. So many questions: Would these crazy researchers make it out alive? Will we have nightmares tonight? Will they ever find one of these bad boys?
Good news: If you missed it, you can find out the answer yourself by checking out the full episode here. Watch with one eye open.
Isle of Jaws
Near the Neptune Islands of Southern Australia, all of the great white sharks have mysteriously gone missing. Dun...dun...dunnnnn! A team sets out to find them and say what's up. One of the biologists says that he doesn't see any great white sharks near the island, but it "definitely feels shark-y here." Absolutely going to start sprinkling that phrase into everyday language.
There's a pretty cool scene in which the team casually heads underwater in cages and starts playing loud rock music to lure the sharks to them through vibrations. Apparently, sharks sides' are lined with lateral lines that can detect movement, which comes in handy when they're searching for injured prey. That's right. THEY DON'T EVEN NEED THEIR EYES TO FIND FOOD. THEY CAN JUST FEEL IT. If only something similar in humans existed to detect the best tacos nearby.
While motion-detecting sharks and underwater jam sessions are pretty dope, a favorite moment was when the scientists casually dropped a bomb. Apparently, many mama sharks typically circle Isle of Jaws in search of sea lions to feed to their newborn babies. The biologists then say that they hope the mommy sharks' absence doesn't mean they are eating their babies. UM, WHAT?!
Apparently, when sharks are pregnant, they have some type of hormone that suppresses their appetite (women everywhere, go ahead and gasp). As one scientist puts it, after they "drop" their female pups, the moms are "damn hungry." The moms then travel to find food for both themselves and their newborns — SO THEY DON'T EAT THEIR OWN BABIES OUT OF STARVATION. This is somehow equally sad and fascinating.
Shark After Dark
Best surprise of Night One: the appearance of Kevin. Freaking. Hart. On Shark Week.
In the last couple of years, Discovery has started including a Watch What Happens Live-esque after-show called Shark After Dark. Host Eli Roth shows highlights from the night and also brings on some guests. And honestly, is there anyone you'd rather hear talk about sharks than K. Hart??
"I don't want to call it an obsession. It's like a fear mixed with an obsession," says Hart (pictured here with cinematographer Joe Romeiro, left, and Roth) of his love of sharks. "It's like okay, I'm scared of these, but I want to see what it's doing." A man after our own harts. Oops... we mean heart.
He then tells a story about seeing baby sharks while scuba diving on vacation with his fiancée.
"I want you guys all to remember I'm Black. That right there puts us in a position where we don't do what you may think we should do," he jokes.
Thanks for tuning in, folks. TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Jaws of the Deep
Shark Week is just getting started, and we’ve already seen our first great jump-out-of-your-seat moment. As in, a scream and leap a foot off the bed scenario. This episode actually picks up where another Shark Week show left off in 2013. And if you’re a longtime Shark Week loyalist (which, if you’re reading this, you probably are), you’ll remember that crazy footage. A team of marine biologists journeyed to the remote island of Guadalupe, 150 miles off the coast of Mexico, where hundreds of great whites visit every fall and winter. They sent a shark-cam attached to an autonomous underwater vehicle (a water robot, basically) into the depths — these swimmers like to hang out over 100 meters below the surface. When the camera came back, it had bite marks — and incredible footage of the sharks attacking the water-bot.
This past December, the crew returned to Guadalupe. This time they had two robots in tow — one that goes 300 feet below the surface, and another that ventures down 2000 feet. (sidebar: if we have to send a robot to dive that deep, then maybe we as a species are just not supposed to see whatever’s down there?) Their mission: to observe the deep-sea behavior of the big baddies — and find the world’s largest great white, Deep Blue. (Okay, the Crayola name actually makes him seem a lot less scary.)
Spying on the sharks hunting in their natural habitat — unaffected by humans — is fascinating. They manage to tag a shark named Scarboard and the camera follows him around underwater. The whole thing is intense — but the pee-your-pants moment comes when watching underwater footage, and a shark appears out of nowhere and attacks the camera. Like, we’re talking found-footage-horror-movie style action here. Yikes!
Sharks Among Us
There are always a few sobering moments during Shark Week, and they come with the realization that as scared as we are of sharks, we are more of a threat to them than they are to us. Yes, we should feel bad for the sharks. Shark-human encounters are only increasing, and with each attack comes more public panic and fear-based shark-killing. The methods that we have to protect ourselves from the species — like culling, nets, and drum lines (traps that lure sharks using baited hooks) — are deadly for sharks.
At the same time, sharks are serious predators and can attack humans unprovoked. Such was the case with the two stars of Sharks Among Us. We meet a pair of extraordinary survivors. Paul de Gelder, a former Australian Navy diver, lost his right arm and leg to a shark during a military training exercise. And 16-year-old Hunter Treschl lost his left arm to a shark while swimming in waist-deep water off the coast of Northern Carolina last summer. (Terrifying.) And somehow, both men found it in themselves to get back into shark-infested waters — Hunter, just months after his attack. (Seriously, where is their primal fear?!)
Hunter totally blew us away with his fearlessness — it was scary just watching him get back in the water. Though, he wasn’t unprotected. Enter Dr. Craig O’Connell, who has developed a technology that uses magnetic fields to repel sharks from shallow waters or areas where humans swim. It’s pretty cool to watch the sharks be repelled by an invisible (and harmless) force. And it’s a promising glimpse at how sharks and humans can coexist without killing each other.