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Perrin Ireland’s Blog

Cooler than #Shark Week: #SharkScience

Perrin Ireland

Posted August 8, 2013

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It's SHARK WEEK!! Here at @NRDCscience we're jumping head-first into the deep end of the Cooler than #SharkWeek pool, a movement of scientists who love Shark Week but hate misinforming the public. It's the brainchild of #sharkscience advocate Brian Switek, who promises to share real information about nature every day of Shark Week. It's time for a science takeover! 

I had some questions about sharks, which decidedly weren't being answered on Discovery, and so I dialed up our resident sharkspert, Brad Sewell, who's been working on behalf of @NRDC to get Great Hammerhead and Dusky sharks listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. We had an unexpected visitor, and a few laughs about sharks and lawyers. Do enjoy: 

Brad says: “If sharks were in charge, they would call it 'Sharks’ Revenge' instead of 'Shark Week.' The titillating bone-crunching being shown on TV this week would be revenge for what humans do to sharks the other 51 weeks of the year. The reality is that we are a much greater threat to sharks than they are to us. There were a dozen fatal shark attacks in 2011. Around the world, it's been estimated that we kill that many sharks every four seconds, for their meat, liver oil, and fins.” See blogs from Brad on the NRDC petitions here and here.

NRDC is working our TAILS off to get hammerheads and dusky sharks listed. As part of “Shark Week,” NRDC is asking you to take action: State bans on shark fin trade could be overturned if the National Marine Fisheries Service adopts a proposed rule declaring that the federal government, not states, has sole authority to regulate shark fin imports. Go here to submit a letter urging the fisheries agency to save states’ shark fin ban


Earlier this week you might have seen some kerfluffle about the mockumentary about a long-extinct shark called Megaladon that Discovery aired without informing its audience that it was fake. The "scientific experts" that appeared on the show were, in fact, actors. I'm sharing here some of the excellent content scientists are cranking out to tell the true, amazing story of this shark.

First, a personal favorite, @NerdyChristie (Christie Wilcox, of Science Sushi at Discover Mag Blogs, who had a cameo on CNN setting the #sharkscience record straight earlier this week) tells it like it is in an open letter to Discovery Communications expressing the general sentiments of science-curious audience members who felt really let down by the falsehoods the network perpetuated- they actually claimed that a shark that's been extinct for 2 million years might still be out there, and a threat to humans. 

The upside of the Discovery blunder is that informed authorities on this extinct shark are coming out of the woodwork to share their knowledge, and it's always satisfying when nature produces a reality that's even more awe-inspiring than the mockumentaries can drum up. To learn more about the real Megaladon, check out Jacquelyn Gill's post on The Megatooth Shark, with some jaw-dropping factual information. Here's some SUPER in-depth info from an authentic cryptozoologist, about the mighty Megaladon. And here's a piece from Brian Switek about how megaladons are thought to have hunted the large whales of their era. Which is past, by the way. Very past. Like 2 million years past. 

I would be remiss if I didn't direct you to Ed Yong's post on #sharkscience, which is Like Shark Week, but with Actual Facts. Imagine that! NOAA's YouTube channel is swimming with informational videos as well. Take a break from the nonsense and tune in to some thrilling shark reality. And don't miss the world's largest group of scientists requesting that we quit referring to mistakes sharks make when hunting prey, and accidentally grab humans, as "shark attacks." See David Shiffman's blog post on the group's request for a rephrasing to "shark accident." 

For the Tweeps out there: If you watch #sharkweek, follow @WhySharksMatter@Waves_FilmFest, @NerdyChristie, and @DrNeilHammer for live commentary & actual science.

Many thanks to Hadley Greswold for her critical creative and technical contributions to the production of this video. Also thanks to Brad Sewell, Janna D'Ambrisi, Eunice Park, and Serena Ingre for shark riddle, hammerhead costume-wearing, and shark expertise input.

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