Shark Week 2016: The Discovery Channel Does Away With Scripted Megalodon Content

In the past recent years, The Discovery Channel has taken a severe backlash from viewers over their inclusion of fictional content during the week, which has always been geared towards programming educational content. The purpose of Shark Week has always been to demystify some of the ocean’s greatest creatures, but in airing fictional content surrounding the existence of a monstrous Megalodon shark and presenting it as fact, The Discovery Channel drew criticism and scorn from their viewers.

Megalodon Mockumentaries Have No Place On Shark Week

Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives was the first of two specials to have raised the anger of Shark Week fans in past years, especially since it was presented as a factual show with real researchers attempting to find a living Megalodon. Instead, audiences were met with actors portraying scientists in a scripted out mockumentary, which would ultimately leave viewers feeling betrayed. Viewers weren’t shy about letting The Discovery Channel know just how upset they were by the fictional programming, but, in spite of that feedback, the network again repeated their mockumentary line of programming the following year.

In 2014, Shark Week programming included a sequel to the previous year’s mockumentary. This time, the scripted drama was entitled Megalodon: The New Evidence. This time, fans weren’t content to simply provide feedback to The Discovery Channel. They wanted answers, and as Shark Week 2015 rolled around, the head of development and production for The Discovery Channel, Howard Swartz, promised a return to the more traditional programming fans of Shark Week had come to love.

“We’re focusing quite a bit on research and science, more so probably than we have in the past,” he said of future Shark Week programming. “We’ve toyed with a lot of different types of storytelling over the years, and I just think now in a forward-looking direction, I think we wanna focus more on the research angle.”

While fictionalized accounts of the legendary Megalodon shark won’t be a part of this year’s Shark Week, that doesn’t mean fans won’t be met with equally terrifying monsters. There are large species of sharks currently roaming Earth’s oceans, worthy of our respect and study, beginning with the fearsome Mako shark.

Return Of Monster Mako Delivers A True Beast Of The Deep

Shark Week will still have its share of monster sharks this year, in spite of the loss of Megalodon mockumentaries, and the beastly Mako shark will be among them. For Return of Monster Mako, researchers from Harte Research Institute (HRI) in Corpus Christi, Texas, made a trip down to Southern California to study and tag Mako sharks, all of which weighed in at 1,000 pounds or more.

“How do these sharks behave when their prey is a once-in-awhile meal of seal versus feeding non-stop on fish in the Gulf? There’s an opportunity to gain unprecedented social and behavioral insights, the kind of things we can’t get from having one boatside,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, who serves as the HRI Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health and Director of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation.

Last year’s Monster Mako drew in over three million viewers, easily making the special one of Shark Week 2015’s most successful installments. What makes Return of Monster Mako so special is the addition of “Shark Eye” technology, which consists of attaching a special array of cameras to the body of a shark. The array transmits footage of never before seen underwater activities of the sharks, providing a unique opportunity to study the behavior of Mako sharks in their natural environment.

Return of Monster Mako kicks off Shark Week tonight on The Discovery Channel, airing at 8:00 p.m. CDT.

[Image by The Discovery Channel]