Air Jaws 2020

It is the 20th anniversary of Air Jaws! Shark Week’s longest running special. Chris Fallows, Jeff Kurr, and Dickie Chivell revisit the most popular and iconic Air Jaws moments.Great white sharks used to be considered slow, lumbering, methodical, mindless predators. More brawn than brain. Until Fallows and Kurr discovered there was much more to great whites than meets the eye. They were the first to document great whites breaching the surface of the waters of South Africa. They showed the world that these sharks are actually incredibly fast and graceful.This was a “Best of” show. Flying sharks are awesome and the unimaginable power it must take to propel 2000+ pounds of muscle 15 or more feet out of the water is just amazing. The entertainment value of their specials has at least generated interest in great white sharks. But 20 years later they are doing the same thing over and over again. It was awesome 20 years ago, I know I watched it then, but even the sharks have moved on. 

Sharkadelic Summer

Snoop Dogg narrates a show documenting how great white sharks have taken up residence along America’s shores. From the safety of a recording booth, Snoop breaks down some of the craziest shark encounters caught on film. Drs. Craig O’Connell, Ralph Collier, Greg Skomal, (Snoop kept saying his name wrong) and Tristan Guttridge explore America’s shores where the great whites have been making appearances. Along with plenty of amateur video and survivor accounts.There are three types of interactions you can have with a shark: first – an encounter, where you and the shark just kind of check each other out. Second – predatory attack, this is self explanatory. Third – displacement behavior – aggressive actions to drive away a threat. Great white sharks are getting much closer to the shore recently. In Florida they have been seen hanging out and not interacting. In Montauk, NY a Great white nursery has been discovered called “The New York Bite” Baited remote underwater video systems or B.R.U.V.s have been deployed to prove the nursery is healthy and active with juveniles and adults on their way to Cape Cod. In Cape Cod, Ma over 400 individual adult great whites have been identified and tagged and they aren’t done yet. In 1972 the Marine Mammal protection act was signed and in 1997 America gave protection to great whites, making this place perfect for great white sharks to thrive. Advances in tracking technology allows an unprecedented look into great white shark lives and journeys. You can even follow your favorite tagged great whites on their own social media accounts (yes I checked)I absolutely loved this show! Snoop’s commentary is so genuine. Something about hearing him clearly reading shark facts from a script then adding his own snarky comments just tickles me. The best part was his reactions when watching the shark encounters, he was really getting into it, cheering for seals and fish that jump into boats, telling people to look out. I hope they get him to do this every year! I would watch an hour of just Snoop reacting to shark videos.

Mako Nation

Shark expert Riley Elliott and underwater cameraman Andy Casagrande travel to New Zealand to uncover the mysteries of the mako shark in one of the last places on the plant where this apex predator rules the water. There are more Makos in New Zealand than anywhere else.Mako sharks are a pelagic species. Meaning they live in the open ocean. Juveniles start close to shore though. Like their habitat changes so do their teeth, young makos have thin needle-like teeth that evolve into larger triangular teeth for hunting larger prey and can grow to 14 feet or more. This species hasn’t been studied much. Their speed, power, and intelligence has enabled makos to overcome the challenges of living in the desert of the ocean, open water. Mako shark prey is actually larger than makos are. They prey on swordfish, tuna, and marlin. All these fish are very similar looking to the mako (except for the sword coming out of ones face) The process of convergent evolution allows prey and predator to develop similar physical traits over time. Makos are literally what they eat. The Hydrodynamic bodies allow for incredible speed, makos have been clocked at 35 mph, the caudal keel (muscular tail) and makos have the largest brain to body ratio of any species of shark.This was groundbreaking research. We were taken to the edge of the continental shelf. The farther out, the deeper the water, the bigger the animals. This has never been documented before. They tested the makos intelligence by determining how it takes down prey much larger than iteslf: it disables the preys ability to escape then feeds at leasure.The bite force of a mako maxed out the device used at 13,000 Newtons. To put that into perspective a great white shark has a bite force of 10,000 Newtons. This was the most powerful shark bite ever measured. Second most powerful bite force on the planet. The saltwater crocodile has a bite force of 17,000 Newtons. The first fincam on a mako showed they are a warm-blooded species like their great white cousins. This is an awesome and hard to study species. They don’t like humans being near them. 

What a GREAT night of programming! I admit I am harsh with the Air Jaws crew just because they don’t seem to be able to evolve, but I do love to see the flying sharks and this was the best of the best. Snoop is just badass. I want him every year seriously. And new data on a little-studied but well-known shark is just the cherry on top of everything. I really hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. 

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.