Shark Week likes to start things off big and you may have noticed all the advertising for Tyson vs. Jaws. This year is also the 20 year anniversary of Air Jaws. So we get a double dose of flying sharks this week. And of course nothing can escape talking about COVID-19 so there had to be an opening night show about that. As far as first nights go tonight wasn’t bad. 

Air Jaws: Ultimate Breach Off

20 years ago Chris Fallows photographed a great white shark breaching out of the waters of South Africa….. And he hasn’t done anything else since. Three years ago Orcas started hunting great white sharks in the waters off South Africa and the population completely disappeared. They had already been declining in the years before that because of the over fishing around South Africa. This year they had a very limited time to film after the lockdown ended to determine if the great white shark population had rebounded during the quarantine with no one on the water. So Chris Fallows and shark biologists Alison Towner and Enrico Gennari competed to see who could get the most white sharks to breach for them using different methods. Fallows used his tried and true tow cam, Towner used a drone, And Gennari used a disco seal (I’m not kidding) an LED lighted decoy seal at night.If you have paid attention in the last 32 years, experts talk about how great whites need to conserve their energy because less than half of their attacks are successful, so it makes perfect sense to lure these animals up from the deep, at amazing speeds to propel themselves completely out of the water in the hope of getting a possible life saving meal, only to be met with a rubber seal.Over the years the equipment and the decoys have changed but nothing else has. There are easier ways to count a shark population that doesn’t also put the sharks in danger. While I admit seeing a giant shark rocketing out of the ocean and turning over in mid-air is awesome, Mr. Fallows please learn a new trick. 

Tyson vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef

I cringed and nearly gave up on Shark Week when I saw this announcement. I was worried what Rona was going to do to the programming quality this year and this just confirmed my worst fears. I came up with endless biting jokes and just gave up all hope. I also confirmed that I am a horrible person for being grateful for captions (I use them all the time not just with speech impediments) If you have read my celebrity shark dives in the last couple of years, you know I do not like them at all. I couldn’t have been more wrong in this case. I was absolutely shocked by the amount of participation on the part of Mr. Tyson. Also instead of catering to the ego of the celebrity this year, they actually put him in the water with a real shark scientist, Dr. Craig O’Connell, who was teaching him, not trying to be his buddy or playing to his vanity. To get him trained up enough to put a shark into tonic immobility. Tyson was very afraid at first even when just learning to use the dive gear in a pool with an animatronic shark (that would be a wonderful addition to my swimming pool by the way) But once he actually got into open water he calmed down and loved the experience. He even took laser measurements and photos himself and successfully immobilized a Caribbean reef shark! A hands-on celebrity is a new thing in celebrity shark dives. And no one was bitten at all, not man or shark. Tyson described the experience as “life-changing” and wants to go for the bigger sharks next time. 

Shark Lockdown

Three days before the end of New Zealand’s lockdown shark Expert Kina Scollay, shark scientist Dr. Mark Erdmann, and marine film maker Clarke Gayford (also the fiancé of New Zealand’s Prime Minister — wonder how they got permission to go out before lockdown ended) search the waters around southern New Zealand for female great white sharks that have grown to lengths of greater than 20 feet. The largest recorded in the world. With no human interaction due to COVID-19 they try to see if hunting patterns and behaviors have changed. Using new equipment to measure sharks both at the surface and below the water they also use sound to attract the sharks rather than bait them in. They constructed a 10 foot long, one-man self-propelled shark cage called the Snack box. This cage is half the size of the sharks they are looking for so it just didn’t seem like a good idea to me. The first trip down the smaller males made short work of the snack box but no one was harmed. The second try was more successful, they found large females with fresh mating wounds. They only had 3 days to work and they identified over 20 great white sharks, a mix of males and females in the same place, and the females with fresh mating scars, indicates that the great whites may be using this area to mate. Great White mating has never been seen by humans and neither has a birth. 

Josh Gates Tonight

I LOVED the Jaws opening and the running Jaws theme through this. It is still basically a talk show but not as bad as Shark After Dark was. The celebrities must be allowed to plug their other projects and podcasts and Discovery Channel needs to advertise their new shows. (not that the commercials weren’t enough) I like Josh Gates and watching him teach me how to make a boozy shark themed drink is right in my wheelhouse.            There were plenty of puns and shark humor to make it amusing, the tour of some of the Georgia Aquarium makes me want to go even more now. The guests were the people you just watched do the things, talking about the things you just watched them do. So that was kinda boring, but between the guests it was worth watching. I voted for the band to be named Shark Jammies. Night 1 is done and some of it gets a “meh” from me but I am just so happy to have Shark Week back that I will let it slide. Hope you enjoyed.

Sylvia Papineau is an Arcade resident and self-proclaimed Shark Week ‘finatic.’ Watch All WNY all week for her take on Shark Week 2020 specials. And share our Shark Week features on social media with the tag #AllWNYSharkWeek for a chance to win an All WNY Shark Week mask.

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