Shark Week Night Two: Divers and Sharks and a Croc, Oh My!


Shark Week’s second night put the focus back on its namesake and was much better for it. Here’s a recap of the action-packed episodes.

Thank you Shark Week for getting back to the basics. A few celebrities did appear in the first episode of night two, but they refreshingly didn’t make it about them. The other episodes highlighted largely unexplored shark territories, which lead to a dangerous encounter with an American crocodile.

Monster Tag

Featuring: Rob Gronkowski; Aaron Rogers; Lindsey Vonn; Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, professor and shark researcher; Riley Elliott, shark researcher; Edd Brooks, shark researcher

This episode proved that Shark Week can do celebrity specials right. All-star athletes Gronk, Aaron, and Lindsey teamed with shark experts to tag three different species who have experienced extreme population declines.

They each readily admitted to being afraid of sharks, and none of them were experienced divers. However, they said they wanted to use their platforms to support shark conservation and dispel common misconceptions. Kudos to them!

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Gronk and Neil went to the Bahamas to tag a tiger shark. The most difficult part ended up being keeping the shark secured while they tagging it. Gronk held the tail for a while, which can apparently deliver 1,000 lbs. of force, and later dove in to help send the shark on its way.

Lindsey and Edd were in the Bahamas as well to tag an oceanic white tip shark. They are open-water, or pelagic, predators, so they don’t come in to contact with people very often but have been known to attack.

The species is most notoriously cited in connection with the U.S.S. Indianapolis, a Navy ship sunk by the Japanese during World War II. Many of the sailors who survived the wreck were later attacked by what are believed to have been oceanic white tips.

As Lindsey noticed when she in dove with Edd, oceanics are an aggressive species and can swarm. However, neither Lindsey nor Edd had a close call. They later tagged a female oceanic and did also an ultrasound, revealing that she was carrying three pups.

Aaron’s mission didn’t quite go as planned on Shark Week. He teamed up with Riley off the coast of San Diego to tag a blue shark. While the other teams, brought their sharks up to the boat for tagging, Riley decided to have Aaron try tagging a blue underwater using a speargun.

Aaron practiced on a decoy and then helped chum the water to entice a blue. He and Riley spotted one and dove in to check it out. The shark swam right up to Aaron and came within two feet of his face, but he was able to calmly nudge it in a different direction. After a quick break at the surface, they went back under, but the shark was gone.

Great White Abyss

Featuring: Jimi Parington, shark diving expert; Brandon McMillan, animal expert; Dr. Mauricio Hoyos, marine biologist; Andy Casagrande, cinematographer

While great whites are the most well-known shark species in pop culture, they have actually not been studied as extensively as you’d think. Jimi, Brandon, Mauricio, and Andy set out to change that off the coast of Guadalupe Island on the second night of Shark Week.

They chose Guadalupe because they were specifically looking for a white shark Mauricio had spotted once, and only once, back in 2013. He’d estimated the shark, which he named Deep Blue, to be 20 feet long, the same size as his boat.

With each successive cage dive or submarine trip, they managed to break successive records for the deepest manned expedition off Guadalupe. Jimi and Brandon’s first dive was the shallowest at 100 feet blow, but it was definitely the most eventful dive.

Photo Credit: Discovery Channel

Remember last night’s custom “Shaq Cage” that left room for a shark to swim right in? Well, a custom cage proved to be ironically dangerous yet again.

The cage Jimi and Brandon used had been purposefully designed to be light-weight, so it could be quickly pulled to the surface in case of an emergency.

Unfortunately, the cage happened to land right on the edge a downward slope in the sea floor. The current soon started pulling the cage it farther below and at an angle. Jimi and Brandon literally had to get out of the cage and push down on it from the top to try to keep it from tipping over.

Naturally, the biggest sharks they’d seen so far, a 16-foot female and a pregnant, 18-foot female, swam by the cage right then. They made it to the surface safely and noted an interesting observation.

Great whites are often thought of as solitary predators while other sharks are known to swim in schools. Jimi and Brandon were shocked by the number of whites they saw swimming within such close proximity of one another.

Ultimately, none of the dives resulted in a definitive sighting of Deep Blue, but they did encounter a lot of massive white sharks. Perhaps most impressively, Mauricio took a cage down to 150 feet and then got to follow and tag a white shark using the same speargunning method Aaron had tried out earlier.

Cuba’s Secret Shark Lair

Featuring: Greg Skomal, marine biologist; Joe Romeiro, cinematographer; Melissa Márquez, marine biologist; Tristan Guttridge, marine biologist; Tony Cardeñas, local guide

As with the athlete episode, this one focused on different research teams. By far, the most nail-biting part of night two was Melissa, Tristan, and Tony’s exploration of Jardines de la Reina (Garden of the Queen), a swath of mangrove channels off the coast of Cuba.

The trio was in search of a great hammerhead. FYI, a great hammerhead is what you picture when you think of a hammerhead. There are actually several species, though, whose heads differ in size and shape.

The trio decided to go on a night dive in the hopes of increasing their chances of seeing a hammerhead. Sharks often hunt at night and venture into shallower waters, but the divers were shocked to see a 10-foot American crocodile swim by.

A few moments later, Melissa got separated from the group and was bitten on the calf by the croc. She was swiftly taken to the surface and treated. Though she was visibly shaken in the immediate aftermath, she maintained that it was an exploratory bite and that she didn’t blame the crocodile.

In fact, Melissa eagerly went on the next dive with Tristan and Tony, and she ended up saving expedition. She spotted a hammerhead, which Tristan was able to get an estimated length for using a special 360 camera. The camera’s estimate was 13 feet. The average great hammerhead is 11 feet long.

Meanwhile, Greg and Joe explored the “El Monstruo Corridor” off Cuba’s north shore. The corridor is a stretch of water named after a massive great white “El Monstruo” that was caught in the area in the mid-twentieth century. The shark is believed to have been 21 feet long.

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Apparently, the Castro administration subsequently limited researchers’ access to Cuban waters, so the territory has remained unexplored for decades. While great whites are not typically found in tropical waters, the corridor’s water is cooler, which may attract them.

Unlike most sharks, great whites are partially warm-blooded, so they can raise their internal temperature above the temperature of the water in which they’re swimming. Greg and Joe unfortunately only managed to see one white shark, which was too far away to get a size estimate.

Joe did have an exciting encounter with a mako, though, when it temporarily got between him and the boat he was trying to swim back to. Fun fact: the mako is a cousin of the great white and also partially warm-blooded.

Are you enjoying Shark Week so far? Tell us in the comments below!