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For Find Out Friday - Week 41 Is it finally safe to go back in water?

                                                                    (Clip provided by Maxim)

We are going to need a bigger boat.

Sunday begins yet another Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and it’s going to be a big one, nineteen hours of primetime viewing! Thus making it the longest Shark Week ever.  This year will also mark the twenty-ninth celebration of this phenomenon which first debuted on July 17, 1988. 

All fans of the movie “Jaws” know that author Peter Benchley dedicated the later half of his life towards shark preservation and to undue the fear caused by his greatest work of art. 

It may seem like an obvious fear, sharks in the water, but prior to this film series it wasn't quite as palpable as it would soon become. I believe that eery “shark is coming” theme music was a large part of it. Even nowadays, even in a pool, once that melody is in my head I have to check myself before I wreck myself. Contrary to my demons my seven year old nephew watched the movie last year for the first time and he has no such fear in the ocean, thankfully. However sharks have been spotted recently in nearby Coney Island and that is a little too close for my comfort. 

Shark Week only came into my life a few years ago. I was home from work suffering from one of my chronic migraines and episodes of insomnia. I got hooked and watched practically day and night. Now it is something I’m counting down to and why its has a place on this Find Out Friday. 

I had no idea Shark Week has been around this long but the timing makes perfect sense. Jaws first swam into theaters only ten years prior to the creation of this program and by 1987 Jaws IV (The Revenge) was out. Sharks were clearly on the minds of Americans. 

Shark Week is more than just popular. I think we can safely say it is now has achieved cult status.  This television event is currently seen in over seventy-two countries and since 2010 has been the longest running cable programming event in history. That is an incredible statistic!

In 1994 in a fit of perfect irony Peter Benchley was actual the first person to host Shark Week live. Since that time numerous celebrities have hosted and stopped by the live shows just to be a part of the action. Shark Week is so entrenched in our lives it is mentioned on reality shows like Dirty Jobs as well as fictional shows like CSI.

While we can all agree Shark Week is a hit, apparently not everyone can agree with the true story of how it came to be. From what I gather it is a cross between:
  1. Young network executives who were trying to come up with new programming and decided to take advantage of July/August beach season; or, the catcher version:
  2. A group of said executives were out at a bar drinking and thought Shark Week was a cool idea so they wrote it down on a napkin and the rest became history. 
Although Shark Week has a history of tongue-in-cheek sounding shows, my favorite being Shark After Dark, the mission is conservation and education. As technology has improved we are seeing parts of the ocean, even parts of the world where we may otherwise never have the opportunity. We are learning about the different species of sharks and their behaviors. Case in point: this week I am looking forward to the first expedition to Cuba. “The Sharks of Cuba” will seek out El Monstruo a seventy foot Great White shark found off this island’s coast over seventy years ago. It is believed to be the largest shark ever caught. I don't have any faith that shark is still alive but maybe a relative is. 

"At its best, Shark Week educates people about the most misunderstood animals on our planet while inspiring them to protect the ocean. At its worst, it perpetuates fear and misunderstanding.”
- David Shiffman

As a lover of all things wild animal related Stark Week appeals to me. I find these majestic creatures fascinating, and well majestic. Orcas are another love of mine but I will have to wait until I have an opportunity to see them in the wild (, although I am thinking that a Orca or Whale Week is a pretty genius idea. Quick someone get me a napkin!!

I recently went on a whale watching cruise and was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a few humpback whales ( which was thrilling. 

The highlight of this years’s Shark Week will no doubt be the swimming competition featuring Olympian Michael Phelps and his opponent: a shark. The Discovery Channel has been keeping the logistics about this race close to the vest but it has been made clear they will not be swimming side by side. Phelps is to be swimming in the ocean and I believe the shark in a pool. I heard rumors Phelps was given a custom fin like apparatus to make it a bit more fair. Odds are likely to favor the shark but I will still watch. I hope it is as entertaining as it sounds. 

So break out the popcorn and your best Chief Brody impersonations cause this year’s Shark Week is gonna take one helluva bite out of your DVR. 

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