Shark Week! 10 Deadliest Sharks

Discovery Shark WeekOne of my favorite times of the year is when the Shark Week series airs on The Discovery Channel. Having always wanted to go into Shark Biology/Ecology, this show lets me dream of what might have been. The first show I watched was the 10 Deadliest Sharks and I was a bit surprised at some of those that made the list. Given that there are less than 5 sharks that are really considered ‘man eaters’, the 5 others are just added to back-fill the list. From least aggressive to most aggressive, here are the 2009 Shark Weeks 10 Deadliest Sharks.

10 Deadliest Sharks:

10. Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
9. Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)
8. Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
7. Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharias taurus)
6. Grey Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)
5. Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus)
4. Ocean White Tip (Carcharhinus longimanus)
3. Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
2. Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
1. Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas)

shark threat displayAdmittedly, I missed the first part of the show when these less notorious sharks were explored and explained, but having swam with Grey Reef sharks several times, they really are pretty docile. Just like any other animal, when threatened, a flight-or-fight response kicks in, and in the case of a big fish with teeth- you could get hurt.

Grey Reef sharks are fairly unique in that they will openly display when they are uneasy and feel threatened with an arched back and quick darting movements. You don’t have to be a shark biologist to understand what is going on, as the behavior itself looks sketchy.

It was no surprise to me that the Bull Shark ended up on top again this year as they have actually attacked while being filmed for the Shark Week series. Large, powerful and found even in rivers including the Ganges in India, the Amazon in South America, the Zambezi in Africa and the Mississippi in the US. They were even found in Lake Ponchartrain after Hurricane Katrina.

Nonetheless, all sharks are essential apex predators to our world and without them our oceans would die. Having swam, snorkeled and SCUBA dove with several species of sharks, including some listed here, I can attest to their beauty, grace, and lack of interest in me. For more information on the plight of sharks, I would suggest the Sharkwater documentary film.

Bull Shark

If you haven’t yet seen any Shark Week episodes, I highly recommend you check out the Shark Week DVDs (go for the HD version if you have a Blu-Ray player).

top: Great White Shark – Guadalupe, Mexico, August 2006 by Terry Gross via wikipedia.
middle: Threat display of a grey reef shark by Chris Huh via wikipedia.
bottom: Bull Shark via wikipedia.

Comments 3

  1. This years Shark Week has revealed a bacchanalia of man made shark horror well beyond any concerns the shark conservation community and commercial shark diving community could have fathomed.

    Without a doubt Discovery Networks have reinvented Sea Monsters, erroneously establishing the shark as the most feared predator on the planet.

    34 years after JAWS, and 34 years of conservation science discoveries, pro-shark media, and conservation themed initiatives have been swept away by the 2009 Discovery Channel anti-shark juggernaut. This year broadcast in gory, blood soaked HD, to an estimated 30 million domestic viewers.

    Great for advertising revenues, lousy for the perception of sharks worldwide who have been thrown back to the stone age with last nights docu drama, “Blood in the water” and this weeks entire line up of gratuitous Shark Porn.

    As a commercial shark diving operator I find over hyping one small facet of a sharks entire Raison d’etre to be patently dishonest and a disservice to animals that are suffering one of the highest rates of destruction on the planet.

    Approximately 90 million sharks are killed each year. That’s a stunning statistic. And yet Discovery Networks feels compelled to bring back the 1970’s shark mythos, blood and fear, with absolutely no Sympathy for the Devil.

    At the same time Discovery Networks have rolled out a simply draconian and somewhat East Bloc ham fisted media campaign showing conservation for sharks. An afterthought pushed out by Discovery and it’s hand selected group of “Shark Porn Programming Apologists” to mollify the growing push back from an appalled research, science, and commercial dive community.

    To those who are supporting the very dark decision by Discovery Network executives to bring back, promote, and hype the fear of sharks, rethink your position.

    At a critical time when sharks, as a measure of the health of our oceans, need as much support as we can give them, programming decisions that demonize these animals for ratings, ad sales, and corporate profits are wrong, dishonest, and bordering on fraudulent.

    Discovery started Shark Week 20 years ago with programming that was fresh, alive and informative. Our company along with many others have been involved in some of that programming and happy with the results.

    Early Shark Week programming started with unflinching production companies striving to produce they best they could, fully engaging local operators to introduce them to the full range of shark behaviors.

    Discovery has officially lost it’s way. It can come back, hopefully this is the final year of Shark Porn. Hopefully those within the community who are currently in bed with Discovery Networks “will see the light”.

    As both the alcohol and tobacco industries have discovered you cannot sell these toxic brands to minors and then ask them to “drink and smoke responsibly”.

    Discovery Networks cannot sell fear and loathing of sharks…and then push for conservation.

    Patric Douglas CEO

  2. Ya gotta hand it to Discovery. What a complete waste of my time this year. After the second night I turned it off and I will never watch Shark Week again. Sharks deserve our protection, not hype, faked blood and faked attacks.

  3. Pingback: Life on Discovery | The Chic Ecologist

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