Shark Week Nights 7 and 8: A Naked and Anti-climactic ending


Discovery Channel wrapped up its 30th annual Shark Week with “mega” great whites in New Zealand and naked people in the Bahamas.

On night eight, Shark Week made history again with another crossover. After teaming up with ABC’s Shark Tank on night four, the programming event crossed over with Discovery Channel’s own Naked and Afraid in its final episode of the year.

Plus, night seven showcased New Zealand’s massive great white sharks. Here’s look at what went down at the end of Shark Week 2018.

Return of the Megashark

Featuring: Andy Casagrande, cinematographer; Dickie Chivell, diver and shark wrangler

As someone who’s watched Shark Week every year for at least a decade, I can attest to the fact that it often starts to taper off by the end. To be fair, it’s not easy to fill roughly 24 hours with new content every year.

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Plus, now that it’s been going on for so long, there’s plenty of old content to recycle. For example, Shark Week aired an Air Jaws clip show on night four. My other favorite technique, which the producers started using a few years ago, is “Sharkopedia.” They re-air old episodes but jazz them up with fun fact pop-ups.

Anyway, this episode was a clip show during which Andy and Dick recapped their past encounters with massive white sharks in both New Zealand and Guadalupe. Big sharks are cool for sure, but it was disappointing that the episode’s only new content can basically be boiled down this.

Day Cage Dive: “Look, there’s a 15 foot male. Let’s name him Scarlett.” (Admittedly, I did like the gender-bending naming. It is 2018, after all.)

Review footage from the underwater camera: “Look, there’s Scarlett.”

Night Cage Dive: “Ahh, this is scary. Oh, look, there’s Scarlett.”

There was one substantive part of the episode. Per the narrator’s explanation, there are six different great white populations around the world — Australia & New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, Mediterranean, North American East Coast, North American West Coast — that scientists have proved are genetically distinct from one another.

Naked and Afraid of Sharks

Featuring: Naked and Afraid “all stars” Steven, experienced hunter; Eva, wilderness guide; Ryan, former marine; Ky, Australian Outback guide; Chris, commercial fisherman; Tristan Guttridge, shark expert

As I mentioned in my first night one recap, I don’t watch survival shows, let survival shows about naked people — unless you count Game of Thrones as being in the category, which is kind of fair.

Anyway, night eight was the first time I’d ever watched Naked and Afraid… and it will definitely be the last. I don’t think it was bad for what it was, but it also didn’t convince me that I’d been missing out all these years.

The five contestants were dropped off in the Bahamas on Andros Island — “a barren island with barely any resources to survive on surrounded by one of the largest populations on the planet” — and left to fend for themselves for 14 days.

Aside from poor weather conditions, one of their main obstacles to getting food was the population of Caribbean reef sharks. The contestants understandably got pretty spooked whenever the sharks showed up, often in packs, and usually proceeded to rapidly flee the water.

I actually appreciated their healthy respect for sharks. It’s definitely better to be cautious and, by the end of the 14 days, the contestants did express an appreciation for and genuine interest in the animals.

Unlike the contestants, however, the producers tried to sensationalize the sharks. In the narrator’s introduction to the island, he cited Caribbean reef sharks as being “deadly” and teased an array of other “killer” sharks the contestants could encounter.

Now, are Caribbean reef sharks deadly to their natural prey? Obviously. Are they deadly to humans? No. They can be aggressive, but they have never been implicated in a fatal shark attack. In fact, according to the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File, Caribbean reef sharks have only ever been implicated in four unprovoked attacks on humans.

Additionally, aside from passing by a tiger shark while on a raft, the only other sharks the contestants encountered were lemon sharks and one great hammerhead. While those species have been implicated in more attacks than the Caribbean reef shark, none of the attacks were fatal. So, stop trying to hype up hysteria for ratings Shark Week!

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As I said, I won’t be watching Naked and Afraid again, but I do want to give credit where credit is due. I was impressed by the contestants’ eagerness to keep going, even when it became clear that they would not be able to eat very much. Furthermore, the guys didn’t view the women as being any less capable than they were, which I had frankly kind of expected them, too.

Lastly, before I sign off, I want to honor the scene-stealer of night eight: one of the Caribbean reef sharks. After the contestants found a random fishing line on the island, commercial fisherman Chris went out to heroically get dinner for everyone. He managed to hook a fish, but as he was pulling the line in, the shark casually swam up, bit the fish off the line and swam away.