Shark Week: To watch or not to watch?

To hearken back to Philina’s post from a few weeks ago–in my family I do sometimes fill the role of a ‘Nerd of Trust‘. I’ve had conversations about the scaling potential for a basement humidifier to solve droughts, and I’ve been asked to give talks on seals for my friend’s kindergarten class. There is one topic though I’m often asked about–especially on my private social media–by friends and family:

“What do you think about Shark Week?”

My favorite discussion on that topic was with a friend who, when I said I wasn’t a big fan of the shows that sensationalized only the ‘deadly’ part of shark ecology, jokingly asked me, “Wait you mean all sharks are not born with an innate and all-consuming desire to kill people???”

I am happy to have these conversations with friends about my personal opinions of Shark Week and to listen to their thoughts on the topic, but it got me thinking: what do actual shark ecologists and biologists think of the well-known TV series?

Is the scientific information valid and valuable– even if it is wrapped up with a deadly, seal-eating bow? Is the work scientists are doing to understand these animals presented accurately? Do people who watch it gain an appreciation for these animals, their role in ecosystems, and understand the importance of their conservation?

I recently came across this article posted in the Anchorage Daily News, written by a postdoctoral fellow studying shark conservation and management, that addresses some of these very questions and wanted to share it here during our ASLC Shark Week blog series.

Capture.JPG

As I read the article, I tried to think how I personally digest information from these shows, what kind of emotions they evoke when I watch them, and whether I ever considered some of the potential biases they may perpetuate.

Leave your thoughts in the comments about what you enjoy about Shark Week or what you think after reading the article above. We’re also still interested to hear from you with any general shark-related questions you might have our research team could answer 🙂

Tune in Friday for the conclusion of our first shark capture story!

Written by: Amy Bishop

Feature Image Credit: Discovery Channel

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