It’s hard to believe that Shark Week has been around for nearly three decades, but yesterday, the Discovery Channel’s beloved annual tradition kicked off its 28th year. The tribute to the sea’s most notorious carnivore has evolved over the years, thanks to Discovery’s promise to focus more on educational and scientifically accurate programming instead of ratings-grabbing stunts like the heavily criticized Megalodon documentaries.
The aforementioned docu-series—which led viewers to believe it was based on fact when it was actually pure fiction—sparked outrage among shark enthusiasts like David Shiffman, a Ph.D. student who was particularly dismayed over Discovery’s questionable choices.
Shiffman, who studies shark biology and conservation at the University of Miami, wrote on his website that last year’s Shark Week was an improvement thanks to “more science and natural history, no fake documentaries, less fear mongering nonsense.” As for this year’s lineup, Shiffman divided the programming into three categories: “watch,” “maybe watch,” and “don’t watch.”
The stuff Shiffman recommends watching are programs heavy on scientific facts. Those include Tiger Beach, about tiger shark research in the Bahamas; Shark Bait, about great white shark research, and Sharks vs. Dolphins: Face Off, which examines the relationship between sharks and dolphins.
For the ones on his tepid list, Shiffman suggests Deadliest Shark and Nuclear Shark, since he can’t confirm their scientific accuracy. As for the shows you should avoid altogether, Shiffman says that Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer, about a shark that was accused of multiple killings, is completely “frivolous.”
The rest of Shiffman’s in-depth breakdown of what to watch and what to skip this Shark Week can be found here.
Get your fix with the Shark Week 20th Anniversary Collection, and let us know if you’ll be tuning in this week.