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Shark Week: An Annual Reminder to Watch Where You Swim

Shark Week: An Annual Reminder to Watch Where You Swim

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

It’s Shark Week again, that annual event originally devoted to conservation and correcting the many misconceptions about sharks.

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Unlike so many other weeks commemorating events or public programs, Shark Week was originally a television show. It premiered on the Discovery Channel on July 17, 1988, Mashable.com reports. As a TV series, episodes included “Caged in Fear,” “Sharks – Predators or Prey,” “The Shark Takes a Siesta” and “Sharks of a Different Color.”

Discovery Channel Decided to Make Shark Week an Annual Event in 1992

The series was so successful that in 1992 the Discovery Channel decided to make Shark Week an annual event.

Two years later, Peter Benchley was chosen to host the series. Benchley was a natural choice as the author of the best-selling book and the enormously successful film “Jaws,” about a New England resort town that is menaced by a great white shark one summer.

Made for less than $9 million, “Jaws” went on to make over $470 million in global returns, Indie Wire says. (A former radio producer colleague of mine, who had a very short speaking role as one of the angry townspeople who did not want the beaches closed, told me that every once in a while, he still receives a small residual check in the mail.)

At 27 years old this year, “Shark Week” is now the longest-running cable TV programming event ever, according to The Week. “Last year's ‘Shark Week’ was the network's highest-rated ever, garnering 53.17 million total viewers.”

To some people, however, Shark Week is more of a joke than serious television. Comedian Stephen Colbert once declared it "one of the two holiest holidays" after Christmas.

Sharks Rarely Attack Humans, but Fatalities Do Occur

Sharks are nothing to laugh at. Although they rarely attack humans, fatalities do occur.

Earlier this year, three sharks killed a young California snorkeler in the Bahamas. It is not uncommon for sharks to travel in groups of three or more.

Just this past weekend, two men swimming in Florida’s east coast waters were bitten by sharks in separate attacks within an hour of each other and less than 100 miles apart.

Bull Sharks Are Highly Dangerous Because They Can Live in Fresh Water

While most people think of the great white as the most fearsome of all sharks, CNN writers Evan Davis and Brian Ries say beware of the bull shark. It can thrive in fresh water, unlike its salt-water kin.

“And whereas shallow waters are usually shark kryptonite, bull sharks prefer them. They like getting close to those sandy beaches, just like you,” Davis and Reis write.

“But even the violation of what should be the safest part of the ocean isn't the worst of this shark's killer tendencies,” they added. “The worst thing about this underwater predator is that it will take a chunk out of you out of sheer curiosity.

“That's right, these guys bite just for the fun of it. Bull sharks have even been known to attack hippos, land animals weighing in at 1.5 tons, with some males getting up to nearly twice that.” For hippos at least, there’s strength in numbers.

If you’d like to be reminded – safely – of the dangers that sharks pose, you might like to bathe with Etsy’s BareBumShop bath bombs. Stick one in the tub and watch it bleed red as it – not you – dissolves. And like real sharks, these “creatures of the deep” come five to a package.

David Hubler David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, "The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever."