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SYLLY: Shark Week 31 Night 2: Thank you, Shark Week!

This is the real Shark Week. The Shark Week I know and Love! A wonderful night of programming.

Sharks of the Badlands

Marine Biologist Greg Skomal is looking for a way to detect sharks off Cape Cod Massachusetts. 2018 brought the first shark attack fatality to these waters since 1936. Great white sharks have been more common there because of the booming seal population just off the coast. He currently has acoustic tags on many local great whites but that does not provide real-time information to keep bathers safe. He enlists underwater cinematographer Andy Brandy Casagrande  and New Zealand shark expert Kina Scollay to help him.               

ABC and Scollay travel to the Chatham Islands, 500 miles east of New Zealand, where there is a similar population of Great whites and people in the waters. I did not see any seals at Chatham Islands and I noted the sizes of the sharks were smaller than those at Cape Cod so it is not an exact matching. Testing of acoustic tags and satellite tags proved that they provide absolutely no real-time information to keep people safe in the water. They tested out a brand new sonar system, just like a sonogram, that will work without the need for any tagging of sharks. The only drawback is that is has to be manually activated and calibrated underwater. During the calibration the sonar detection found sharks and was able to notify the person calibrating it to get to safety in time. So that works! Hopefully this will be utilized everywhere.

Human beings pose the greatest threat to every living creature on this planet. It is absolutely essential to make humans feel safe in the water in order to keep sharks safe too. Real-time detection systems will hopefully bring an end to attacks on humans as long as they are monitored properly and the warnings obeyed. My concern about this is the potential that it will be abused by people who seek to capitalize on sharks and it will end up being a map directly to them.

Legend of Deep Blue

I have been waiting years for this episode! Deep Blue was in a viral video from 2013 when she was first recorded at 22 feet long, 10 feet wide, and weighing 2-3 tons! You remember the video, she’s mahoosive!!! The numbers the episode gave said that average males recorded grow to be 13 feet long, and average recorded females are 16 feet long. Deep Blue is bigger than a school bus! She is estimated to be 50-75 years old.
Shark researcher Brandon McMillan, underwater cinematographer Andy Casagrande, shark diving expert Jimi Partington, and cage dive operator Scott Carnahan travel to Guadalupe Mexico to search for Deep Blue in the last place she was spotted. They got in the cage to get close to the great whites. The deeper they went the larger the sharks got. They found a lost GoPro on the bottom with an intact memory card showing massive sharks on the bottom, but not Deep Blue. The team also witnessed shark on shark predation. Cannibalism has been suspected in great whites before. Is this why the mega sharks are so rarely seen? Because they are feeding on smaller sharks at depth instead of surfacing and competing for smaller food?

Deep Blue did not make an appearance at Guadalupe, she was recorded in Hawaii busy feasting on a sperm whale carcass with local legend and fellow mega shark, Haole Girl.  Female great whites have a 2 year migratory pattern, which coincidentally is about how long they are pregnant too. I wish they could have gotten footage of Deep Blue but the discovery of more mega sharks makes me happy too!

The Sharks of Headstone Hell

Norfolk Island in the South Pacific was originally a penal colony 200 years ago where the dead were tossed into the ocean. After that it was a whaling colony with lots of dead whales everywhere. Now it is inhabited by farmers with 10’s of thousands of cattle. And they have the largest tiger shark population on Earth. Shark researcher Riley Elliott and you guessed it underwater cinematographer Andy Casagrande are the first to study the tigers of Norfolk Island. The residents of the island have always disposed of their dead cattle into Headstone bay instead of taking the chance of polluting their fresh water supply by burying the carcasses. This has used the tiger sharks as a waste disposal system but has it altered their behaviors? Australia has taken over governance of Norfolk island and demanded a ban on dumping the cattle. Australia has had 400 shark attacks in 30 years, 37 of them were fatal and they cull the sharks around their coastline. Norfolk Island has not had a shark attack in over 100 years, no attacks, no culling, harmony. But will the ban on free beef bring catastrophe?
Mr. Elliott and Mr. Casagrande tag sharks in Headstone bay and identify 45 different tiger sharks in 4 days. They even dive below the carcasses to see if there are males there too. There are, this is significant because tiger sharks segregate the sexes unless they are breeding. This discovery makes Norfolk Island an important shark research spot.  The tags show that the tiger sharks do not stray far from the island and are seasonal residents and most likely reliant on the beef buffet in the bay.  The abrupt ending of the dumping could cause attacks on humans.

New places and new information. New questions and floating cows. I really enjoyed this episode. I look forward to following the tagged sharks and discovering what new behaviors they show.

This is the Shark Week that keeps me coming back every year! The preservation of sharks is reliant on the safety of humans. The number of unprovoked attacks on humans keeps going down but the extermination of sharks is going up. One thing I can say with certainty is that CULLING ANY ANIMAL IS NOT THE ANSWER! (unless it’s spiders) Humans need to share. This is their planet too and you are stepping into their home.
Tonight’s programming begins at 8 p.m. with Shark Wrecked: Crash Landing. Laws of Jaws: Dangerous Waters. Air Jaws: Strikes Back.

Sylvia Papineau is an Arcade resident and self-proclaimed Shark Week 'finatic.' Watch All WNY News all week for her take on Shark Week 2019 specials. 

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