From Opinions in the media

Examples of how sharks are sometimes mis-represented in the media.

Discovery’s ‘Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine’ draws criticism for being just awful

Much like last year’s mockumentary “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives”, Discovery Channel’s first episode of this year’s Shark Week has come under fire for it’s fictional account of “Submarine,” a giant man-eating great white shark with roots in a South African urban legend. “Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine” plays out like a documentary, though it’s actually just an account of fictional events, plagued with less-than-convincing acting and special effects, in the eyes of many viewers.

Twitter was lit up with disgruntled viewers on Sunday night when the episode premiered, and numerous online media outlets have since voiced their distaste in Discovery’s decision to peddle out another faux “documentary.”

In Discovery’s defense, the show did contain the following vague disclaimer.

Events have been dramatized, but many believe Submarine exists to this day.

While most viewers realized from the get-go that this is a piece of fiction, others bought into it as a real-life account of a ‘monster shark’ with an appetite for humans. “Submarine” was noted to have an “insatiable taste for human blood,” and had adapted methods to attack humans more efficiently.

Is this really the kind of message Discovery Channel should be sending its viewers about sharks?

You can check some other opinions about Shark of Darkness by following the links below.

Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s “We Need to Talk about Shark Week.”

Vox’s “Shark Week is once again making things up”

Gawker’s “Shark Week Returns With Its Lies”

Shark Week’s Megalodon draws online criticism

Discovery Channel’s 2013 edition of Shark Week has gotten off on the wrong fin in the eyes of some viewers. Last night’s “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” has drummed up a lot of negative buzz in the online world. Discovery’s Facebook page is loaded with comparisons to last year’s faux documentary “Mermaids: The Body Found,” which also caught a lot of heat online. Others are referring to the show as “The Blair Shark Project” in reference to the 1999 “Blair Witch Project.” Reddit shark fans also expressed disappointment and threatened to boycott Shark Week.

It seems some viewers are disappointed with Discovery’s latest offering would prefer to see ‘real-life’ documentaries as opposed to fictionalized storytelling being pawned off in documentary fashion. Complaints about the disclaimer at the beginning of the show being “unreadable” have some referring to the show as a farce. Rich Juzwiak at Gawker refers to the disclaimer as ‘too-fast-to-read.’

Did you watch “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives?” If so, sound off in the comments about what you thought of the show and Discovery’s decision to include a “mockumentary” in the Shark Week line-up.

ABC News: Beach safety fears after North Carolina shark attacks

ABC News recently ran the above featured, inspired by recent shark attacks on children in North Carolina waters. While the feature covers several topics, I think the most worthwhile aspect of this report is the advice that parents should always accompany their children and be aware of risks of swimming in the ocean.

While the feature brings up the often used statistic that one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a shark, it fails to mention some of the other potential risks of swimming in the ocean. In particular, the ABC report does not even bring up the risk of drowning. In the past month alone, North Carolina beaches have unfortunately been the sites of multiple drownings.

Having visited North Carolina beaches on a fairly regular basis for many years of my life, I appreciate what NC beaches have to offer. However, there are inherent risks involved in swimming in the ocean, and when children are a part of the equation some of these risks become even greater. While it is important that beach goers are aware that sharks (as well as other predatory fish and potentially dangerous ocean life) are in the water, people should also be aware of the other potential dangers.

In the cases of the two recent North Carolina shark attacks, reports seem to indicate that there was proper parental supervision in both incidents. While even the most watchful parents can’t always prevent an unseen event such as a shark attack, proper supervision can certainly help to cut down some of the other risks involved with a day at the beach.

Marine CSI questions white shark population estimate methodology

White sharks observed at the surface were identified by unique markings.

Earlier this year, reports of the results of study which estimated the number of white sharks off central California made headlines. Researchers formulated the estimate after surveying known and unknown white shark specimens, which were observed at the surface. Individual sharks were identified based on each shark’s unique markings.

Dr. Michael Domeier of Marine CSI has recently posted commentary on the methodology used in the above mentioned study. Domeier cites that the study assumed that the sampled white shark population was a closed population. Domeier goes on to say that the long term monitoring of white sharks at Isla de Guadalupe has shown that adult white sharks leave and join the population, which violates the assumption of a closed population.

Additionally, Domeier states that the assumption that individual sharks have an equally probability of being observed has been invalidated by previous research.

Domeier concludes that since estimate was based on “faulty assumptions” the estimate is invalid. He also states that the actual number of white sharks in the respective region is “likely dramatically higher” than the estimate reported in the published study.

Dr. Domeier’s full discussion of this study can be found at the Marine CSI website.

Shark attack imagery used in Victoria driving safety ad

WARNING: The video below features a fictional account of a shark attack (based off the Alex Kintner scene in “Jaws”).

TVSpotsTV recently posted this 2003 Victoria, Australia public service announcement. While the imagery is very much over-the-top and mimics a horrific shark attack scene from the movie “Jaws,” the message is strong and well-intended. The announcement attempts to emphasize that while hundreds of people die in traffic accidents on Victoria’s roads, little attention is given to those deaths, as is illustrated by the beachgoers going about their usual routine, despite the fact that a boy is being attacked.

While the point of the announcement is clearly to draw attention to a need for increased traffic safety, the advertisement also illustrates (perhaps unwittingly) how shark attacks receive more attention than a vast majority of more common tragedies, such as traffic fatalities. The intent here is not to diminish the tragic nature of shark attacks but rather to point out that lives are lost at a far greater rate due to events that are almost ignored due to them being considered “commonplace.”

There is a certain psychology associated with shark attacks that somehow makes them more newsworthy. While the loss of life is tragic, despite the circumstances behind the loss, it does seem that the general public’s attention is often directed toward certain types of tragic events more than others.