Sharks are peaceful animals who do not even fight among themselves. Divers love to swim among them so much because the sharks seem to appreciate their meeting too, and will often accompany them like wild dog companions. This has been known for decades.
Yet, since 1987, Discovery Channel, owned by Discovery Communications, has presented 'Shark Week' each summer, deliberately using these important marine animals to create a horror show. Through special effects that dramatically present charging sharks, blood, and teeth, Shark Week falsely presents these varied and often very beautiful animals, as man-eating monsters.
Further, the week long special is advertised as quality non-fiction, though Discovery is fully aware that it has deliberately created a horror fantasy. And like JAWS, the show has resulted in mass shark hate killings with almost no public sympathy, nor protest.
The company has so effectively convinced their millions of viewers that sharks deserve to be hated, that many people, including some shark scientists, think that sharks should be hunted to extinction. It has created a wave of fear of the sea, in people who grew up watching Shark Week.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce (NOAA), two million, seven hundred thousand (2,700,000) sharks, were killed by sports fishermen in the U.S. in 2011. This figure could be low if those killed on private boats, and not reported, were added in.
Discovery's continuous depictions of sharks as monsters is feeding a killing frenzy which is seen in the countless shark fishing tournaments, and bias against shark diving. With tagging methods as the favoured means of gaining data on living sharks, the true natural behaviour of these important marine animals remains obscure to many researchers.
Discovery executives know exactly what they are doing, and call it 'shark pornography,' while they rake in billions of dollars. They excuse themselves by claiming they are only giving the public what it wants, but the public's love of horror shows has nothing to do with Discovery's responsibility for having made sharks the subject of that horror.
Through their dishonest use of sharks for profit in horror shows, Discovery is responsible for erecting a virtually impenetrable barrier to the protection of sharks from being massacred to extinction.
Until very recently, even the dangers to sharks from overfishing was covered up by Discovery, because they considered conservation to be an unpopular subject. That they finally have begun to mention the threats to sharks, is only due to extreme pressure from conservationists. They have never presented a program about shark finning, or the intelligent and social nature of sharks, though they have been informed about it, including through a long interview with me on shark cognition, emotions, and their social lives, in 2004.
Scientists who's work has been used for Discovery's Shark Week have found it twisted and misrepresented by the company, and finally the shows have begun to make absurd claims, such as stating they have evidence that extinct sharks still roam the oceans terrifying everything in their paths. Fantasy. Nothing but that. Yet, millions of people still watch and believe.
Shark Week is nothing more than tabloid journalism, and does not reflect modern scientific knowledge.
(c) Ila France Porcher