'Shark Week' boosts unfounded fears of the underwater predator

'Shark Week' Risks Boosting Unfounded Shark Fears

Another summer means another Shark Week and another round of questions about whether it's any good for the sharks.

A post shared by Eli Roth (@realeliroth) on

A post shared by Eli Roth (@realeliroth) on

Now in its 28th year, Discovery's annual shark extravaganza has drawn criticism in the past for sensationalizing the predator and building on ungrounded fears.

Ungrounded because sharks aren't really a huge threat to humans. Sharks only killed three people last year, the world over.

But the natural fear people have of them means whenever there are shark attacks, like the recent spate in North Carolina, they get a whole lot of attention.

"Well this is terrifying, an outbreak of shark attacks on the North Carolina coast and now a sixth shark attack in just two weeks," Greta Van Susteren said on Fox News.

And it's that same mechanism that draws people to Shark Week, something Discovery's capitalized on, with thoroughly unscientific stories about giant prehistoric sharks and tales of brutal shark attacks.

"The shark continued to shake me, basically like a dog would a rag doll," a survivor told Discovery.

That from a program called "I Escaped Jaws."

At the same time Discovery has affirmed its support for shark conservation, and the channel is partners with conservation groups like Oceana.

But it still generates a lot of fear, as a shark specialist told New York Daily News, "I know television has to provide entertainment, but those distortions hurt the effort to educate people."

So in light of that, we're just going to stick with Hannibal Burress' interpretation of Shark Week, which seems a lot more harmless.

This video includes an image from Hillary / CC BY SA 2.0.

The Twitter community is breaking the internet in anticipation:

Shark Week Fans Break Twitter
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'Shark Week' boosts unfounded fears of the underwater predator
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In preperation for @SharkWeek, I present to to you Shark Week Drinking Game - You're Welcome http://t.co/Kus3DDv5Yu
Shark week!!!!!!!!!!!<3
i was bored and made the shark week schedule all fancy like so here ya go friends http://t.co/ppHIyxFN9J
Shark week starts tonight๐Ÿ˜........ Why no shark emoji..... Cummmmonnnnn nowwwwwww๐Ÿ‘ฟ
Here's a list of all the things you'll accomplish during @SharkWeek http://t.co/Nr9Sn19KOG
Hashtag it's shark week!
Today starts the greatest week out of the entire summer. SHARK WEEK!!!
If ur sad just remember it's shark week and you'll be ok:))
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Shark week starts in 7 hours... But who is counting
Shark Week starts today!! Catch fellow Islanders from @HarteResearch on @Discovery at 9pm. #GoDers http://t.co/jy1uNT5Ll2

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