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SYLLY: Shark Week 31 Night 6: Jawsome

Night six brought us Jawsome great white research, victim night, and a little magic. Historically Shark Week has had a few more victim episodes and the statistics episode. It doesn’t look like there is going to be many of those this year.

Isle of Jaws: Blood Brothers

A desert island off the coast of Western Australia was the location of Andy Casagrande’s discovery of twin great white sharks last year. Mr. Casagrande went back to the Isle of Jaws again to see if the brother’s are still together and still in sync. They have a new toy this year, and underwater drone called the guppy.

2018 was the first time coordinated hunting had ever been seen in great white sharks. The sharks at this island are all male and very aggressive. There is a colony of New Zealand fur seals on the island as the primary food source of the 28 sub-adult male great white sharks. The brothers were indeed there and still swimming in sync with no sign of aggression toward each other. The guppy is the guinea pig to test if the brothers hunt together or not. One set itself as a distraction while the other attacked from behind. (Yes I said “clever girl” when I watched)

Is this behavior something scientists have just never noticed before? Do all great white shark siblings behave like this? Or is this a new learned behavior to compete with the pack hunting predators that have been hunting the great whites in recent years?

After shooting ended, the brothers were seen again, still together. One had been savagely attacked, perhaps his brother’s presence is what saved him.

Andrew Mayne: Ghost Diver

Andrew Mayne is a magician, illusion designer, author, and filmmaker. He has been described as one of the most prolific magic creators of the century. In this episode he is attempting to make himself invisible to great white sharks by creating a first of its kind shark suit in an attempt to overcome the senses of great white sharks.

While Mr. Mayne may be adept at fooling humans, sharks are a very different creature and use senses we don’t fully understand. He travels to the Bahamas to learn about and observe how sharks live and hunt from Dr. Neil Hammerschlag. Sharks have four senses that Mr. Mayne must find a way to design his suit to fool. 1- chemoreception (smell) 2- electroreception (sense electrical fields like a heartbeat) 3-mechanoreception (sound and vibrations) 4- photoreception (vision). If he can find the key to getting around all of these it would open up a whole new world of undetected shark research.

He learns on black tip reef sharks, tiger sharks, and lemon sharks in the crystal clear Bahamas. His target subject however is in Australia where the waters are murky. Great white sharks have the highest number of cones relative to rods in their eyes, they have excellent eyesight. Ten times better than humans. Andy Casagrande takes him to test his suit in Australia. The sharks were extremely aggressive with the cage. Once Mr. Mayne turned his suit on and was away from the cage the sharks ignored him. When he turned the suit back off they came right for him.

I have to admit this episode caught me off guard. I had no idea who Andrew Mayne was, I saw magician and expected a celebrity shark dive. I was very pleased to see this was actually a fascinating new idea for shark research. As far as first test runs go, this was not a bad start.

I Was Prey: Shark Week

Braxton Rocha was attacked by a tiger shark in 2018 while spearfishing off a remote beach in Hawaii. Leeanne Ericson was attacked by a great white shark in 2017 while swimming in murky water with seals. Both survived. Mr. Rocha came away from his shark encounter with a new lust for life and a message to spread Aloha around the world. Ms. Ericson doesn’t go near the water anymore.

Victim shows are difficult to have much to say about. Both survivors went in with “bad feelings” but went in anyhoo, and they both saw the danger signs in the water but stayed. These two individuals came away from their encounters changed in opposite ways though.

The survivors and victims deserve their time too. It’s just really hard to have a review or opinion on the savage attack of/ or death of in the case of shark encounters. They are what they are. In this one, the warning signs were there to not go in the water and they were either ignored or didn’t know any better. I was pleasantly surprised when my dread of a fluff piece with shark magic turned out to be real shark research. Did anyone notice the brothers from Isle of Jaws were also in Ghost Diver? I have said many times that I love me a great white shark and also that Shark Week should be a little more diverse in their shark studies, but I have to say seeing all the unique behaviors of the different great white colonies around the world was fun for me. Tonight marks the end of science/research/educational Shark Week. Tomorrow is the last night of actual Shark Week with viral videos and celebrities. I know they have been shoving Serengeti commercials down your throat in every commercial break but I want to tell you a little secret….. There are no sharks on the plains of Africa. So extending Shark Week to include Serengeti was just as pointless as extending it to include Naked and Afraid last year.

Tonight’s programming begins at 8pm with Sharks Gone Wild 2. Shark Week Immersion.

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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