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Guide to Nat Geo WILD'S 2018 SHARKFEST: Episode Guide, Fun Facts, Photos and More!

Maj Canton - July 15, 2018

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Nat Geo WILD's SHARKFEST is back this summer beginning Sunday, July 15, 2018 at 8pm with more teeth than ever! Get out of the water and into your living rooms, because Nat Geo WILD's sixth annual SHARKFEST gives viewers a whole extra week of fin-tastic good shark TV. With the latest insights from the top shark researchers, a comprehensive look at the many shark species in all their glory and two weeks of top shark shows. This year's SHARKFEST is the No. 1 destination for factual shark shows, with groundbreaking new behaviors caught on camera in new special “700 Sharks,” expert insights on why the world's most massive shark species congregate in one region called “shark central” off the coast of South Africa in “Big Sharks Rule,” a breakdown of why sharks are the apex oceanic predator in “Shark v. Tuna” and scientific analyses of shark attacks and why they occasionally mistake humans for prey in WHEN SHARKS ATTACK.

 

 


 


SIXTH ANNUAL SHARKFEST PREMIERE EPISODES


When Sharks Attack: Mayhem in Mexico
Premieres Sunday, July 15, at 8/7c
Cancun is an ideal getaway, renowned for its beautiful beaches, fascinating culture and scenic landscapes. Usually a pristine location, the waters of Cancun suddenly becomes a hotspot for shark attacks between 2011 and 2013, with six attacks along its shores. Locals who have never seen an attack are baffled and hotels start to wonder what is putting their guests at risk. A community where shark attacks have never happened wonders, what could be the cause? Scientists put their heads together to figure out the cause behind the surge in attacks.

Shark vs. Tuna
Premieres Sunday, July 15, at 9/8c
Witness a clash of oceanic titans in the remote crystal-blue battlefields of Ascension Island. Yellowfin tuna and mako and tiger sharks are all apex predators, but to these sharks, yellowfin tuna are the ultimate prize. The tuna are often faster, fitter and bigger than the sharks, reaching well over 250 pounds. Any shark hunting these beasts needs brute strength and a little bit of luck to capture one. But when a third player enters the game, the scales tip. Who will win? 

The Whale That Ate Jaws: New Evidence
Premieres Sunday, July 15, at 10/9c
The Whale That Ate Jaws examined an extraordinary incident that occurred at the Farallon Islands, 27 miles off San Francisco, in October 1997.  A boatload of tourists witnessed the ultimate clash of the titans and caught it on tape.  Two killer whales attacked and drowned a great white shark and ripped out its liver. The incident raised a lot of questions and left biologists mystified. Since then, there have been other attacks, some caught on camera. Now, we explore these new events and the fascinating science behind the killer whale's taste for shark meat and share some shocking revelations in The Whale That Ate Jaws: New Evidence. Experts weigh in to reveal astounding new discoveries in shark and whale behaviors.

Big Sharks Rule
Premieres Monday, July 16, at 9/8c
It's an ocean of giants. South Africa has a dramatic, rocky coast that's raked by churning currents. Warm, cold, rich and murky water collide to create “shark central”, with enough food to sustain the biggest. Giant sharks like great whites, tiger sharks, bull sharks, ragged tooth sharks, and whale sharks all reign supreme in these waters.

700 Sharks
Premieres Tuesday, July 17, at 9/8c
Imagine diving into the ocean only to discover that you're surrounded by one of the largest shark frenzies on the planet. Well, that's exactly what these researchers did in the name of science. In Polynesia, the largest school of sharks — about 700 — patrols the waters en masse. Follow an international team of scientists as they study these magnificent creatures at night, when they are most aggressive, to discover their mysterious hunting strategies and social behaviors. The result: incredible new behaviors never seen before, or caught on camera.

Shark Kill Zone
Premieres Wednesday, July 18, at 9/8c
Sharks may be at the top of the ocean food chain, but catching a meal isn't always straightforward or easy. So how have these denizens of the deep ruled the oceans for so long? Design and adaptation. They must adapt to survive, which on occasion means bringing the feast closer to shore. Discover the surprisingly diverse ways sharks hunt and the solutions they've found to catching prey. Some wait in ambush, others slowly stalk their prey and still others chase at high speed. Whatever the technique, all sharks are exquisitely designed for their specialized roles as ocean predators.Scientists weigh in on the evolutionary ways in which sharks have fine-tuned their hunting skills and behaviors and reveal some incredible observations.

When Sharks Attack: The San Francisco Slayer
Premieres Sunday, July 22, at 8/7c
Just north of San Francisco lies a rugged coastline renowned for its picturesque cliffs and sandy beaches. But in 2004, this wilderness-lovers' dream became a nightmare when the area was stunned by four separate shark attacks over the course of six months. A team of investigators takes a closer look at what could be the cause of these mysterious and terrifying attacks and reveal the science behind what is driving them towards the crowded waters.

When Sharks Attack: Anatomy of a Shark Attack
Premieres Sunday, July 22, at 9/8c
Without a doubt, sharks are the most notorious and feared predators in the ocean. In recent years, the number of shark attacks around the world has risen, and understanding how these predators think and behave is more important than ever. Experts break down stories from shark attack survivors, and the science behind shark behaviors and attack methods, to reveal how to handle an attack.

Nat Geo WILD's supersized SHARKFEST also includes special encores of SHARKFEST's past hit specials, which will continue to air in primetime through Friday, July 27.

Nat Geo WILD's SHARKFEST aims to raise awareness about these incredible animals that depend on a healthy planet in order to survive. As part of its overall effort to protect Earth, National Geographic recently launched Planet or Plastic?, a multiyear initiative to reduce the amount of single-use plastic polluting our world's oceans. Doing so not only will benefit the thousands to potentially millions of marine animals that become entangled in, are suffocated by or ingest plastic each year, but will also contribute to the overall health of the planet's marine ecosystems and all who rely on them. To learn more about the Planet or Plastic? Initiative, visit NatGeo.com/planetorplastic


SHARKFEST 2018 EXPERTS




Dr. Greg Skomal (General Shark Expert)


Expert on great white sharks, and sharks found off the coast of the U.S.

Skomal is senior fisheries biologist at the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries and head of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program. He is also guest investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and author of multiple publications on sharks and marine life. Skomal’s current research assesses the impacts of capture stress on sharks.




Dr. George Burgess (General Shark Expert)


Director, International Shark Attack File

Burgess is widely known as one of the top shark attack experts in the world. He is director of the University of Florida Program for Shark Research. Burgess is an ichthyologist and fisheries biologist who has authored numerous books and papers on sharks and other fish.




Laurent Ballesta (Expert for "700 Sharks")


Biologist and Naturalist Photographer Head of Fakarava 2017 Research Mission

A professional diver, marine biologist and award-winning underwater photographer, Ballesta has made a name for himself for pushing boundaries when it comes to using cutting-edge photography to study the mysterious creatures of the depths of the ocean. He and his team have developed new diving protocols using electronic rebreathers, which led him to work on a number of deep-sea wildlife projects from 2007 to 2009 in the French Mediterranean, Patagonia and New Caledonia. Previously unknown species were photographed on each of these missions. Most recently, Ballesta’s discoveries during the Fakarava Mission, featured in "700 Sharks," has unveiled new behaviors in grey sharks that have never been seen before and may alter the way the world understands these amazing animal.




Meaghan McCord (Expert for "Big Sharks Rule")


Founder and Director, South African Shark Conservancy

McCord is a conservation biologist with a special interest in understanding the role of sharks in oceans. She is the founder of, and a research scientist with, the South African Shark Conservancy. McCord has dedicated her life to promoting understanding of sharks and working with fisheries, communities, scientists, conservationists and the media to achieve her conservation goals. McCord assisted with Nat Geo WILD’s production featuring South Africa’s “shark central” in SharkFest’s "Big Sharks Rule" special.




Dr. Chris Lowe (Expert for "Shark vs. Tuna")


Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the Shark Lab at Cal State, Long Beach

Lowe is a professor in marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, where he and his students work with acoustic and satellite telemetry techniques to study the movement, behavior and physiology of sharks, rays and gamefishes. For the past 10 years, he and his students have been studying the baby and juvenile white sharks of Southern California and have greatly contributed to the field of knowledge for this enigmatic species. In addition, recent research by Lowe and his student team has focused on the development of underwater robots for autonomously tracking sharks and gamefishes.


SHARK FACTS


General Shark Knowledge
 
  • There are 400 different shark species in our seas!
  • Sharks were swimming in our oceans for over 200 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth.
  • Electrosense, a shark's sixth sense, can detect minute electrical fields using special organs that conduct electric currents. This gives the shark the ability to pick up electrical signals from potential prey.
  • Sharks can detect very slight pressure changes in the ocean by using a set of specialized cells called the lateral line, which is made of little tiny hairs that can detect these changes.
  • A shark does not have any bones in its body. Its skeleton is made up of a lightweight, elastic cartilage, making it one of the most flexible animals on earth.
  • Fast oceanic sharks have almost perfectly symmetrical tails, providing maximum thrust for optimal speed.
  • Sharks congregating en masse to feed are called shark swarms.
  • Sharks can put their digestion on hold, storing a meal in their stomach for months if they have to. If one bites off more than it can chew, it can turn its stomach inside out, wash out the contents and start again.
  • Sharks are well protected, covered in tough, thick skin composed of a complexly crisscrossed meshwork of tough but springy fibers made of a protein called collagen. It offers the shark great protection against the elements and any predators.
  • A shark can go through 30,000 teeth in a lifetime.
   
Shortfin Makos
 
  • Shortfin makos are agile and aggressive toward their prey and are seldom seen close to shore. They are highly solitary predators, living between the ocean surface and 2,000 feet down.
Blue Sharks
 
  • Blue sharks are highly migratory, curious, open-ocean predators that roam vast tracks of the sea in a single year.
  • When blue sharks feed, a nictitating membrane closes over their eyes like an upside-down eyelid.
Tiger Sharks
 
  • Tiger sharks are named for the black tiger-like stripes across their body.
  • They are known to eat whatever they can get their huge mouths around. They get very interested in shiny objects and they'll eat just about anything.
  • Tiger sharks, known as the powerhouse of the sea, can weigh up to 1,400 pounds and grow to 16 feet long.
  • Tiger sharks can reach impressive speed, covering 9 meters in a single second.
  • A tiger shark's typical cruising speed is 2.5 miles per hour.
   
Bull Sharks
 
  • Male bull sharks are notoriously aggressive and the most likely sharks to attack humans.
  • They average 8 feet in length and 300 pounds.
  • Around the world, bull sharks have been known to survive in both salt and fresh water.
Great White Sharks
 
  • Great whites are the largest predatory fish on earth. They grow to an average of 15 feet in length. Some specimens have been recorded to exceed 20 feet (6 meters) in length and weigh up to 5,000 pounds.
  • One of the most interesting things about the great white shark is its ability to elevate its body temperature higher than its surroundings, which most sharks cannot do.
  • Great whites can produce their own heat, and their body temperature adjusts according to their environment. This is officially called endothermic poikilotherm.