Each summer, more than 22 million Americans come inside from the scorching summer sun to sit in front of the TV in awe of the spectacle that is Shark Week on Discovery. In fact, it’s one of the highlights that we all look forward to each year.
Whether it’s your first Shark Week or you’re a Shark Week aficionado, this year’s programming won’t disappoint. The 2023 event will take place starting on July 23 at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel (Ch. 278 on DIRECTV).
To make sure you catch (metaphorically) all of your favorite shark content we put together this guide of everything you need to know before you take a bite out of this year’s Shark Week.
Explore the full Shark Week 2023 schedule here.
HISTORY OF ‘SHARK WEEK’
Before we get into Discovery Channel’s Shark Week timeline for the annual summer TV event, let’s first look back at how this special week in July came to be and why viewers enjoy it so much.
‘SHARK WEEK’ THROUGH THE AGES
Like sharks, Discovery’s Shark Week has been around for a long time: since 1988. Okay, sharks go back about 450 million years before the invention of television, but Shark Week has officially become the longest-running cable TV programming event in history, according to the network.
Over the last 35 years, Shark Week history has been writing itself, and what we have now is a cultural phenomenon that everyone can enjoy. And when we say everyone, we mean it.
As iterations of the event have passed, more and more celebrities have been making appearances in Shark Week episodes, like the Impractical Jokers, Tracy Morgan (“Live every week like it’s Shark Week“) and Guy Fieri.
‘SHARK WEEK’ 2022 RECAP
Last year’s Shark Week had more than a few firsts, one of which was the new Shark Week Master of Ceremonies. That MC was the one and only Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Each night, Johnson opened and closed Discovery’s programming with a message to viewers explaining what they could expect to see that day.
One of the many reasons Johnson was chosen for the role is his cultural connection to the topic, as mentioned in a statement.
“I filmed exclusively in my home state of Hawaii; these beautiful predators, Aumakua (Gods), are deeply revered and respected in our Polynesian culture. And if you look closely at the details of my tattoo – shark teeth are throughout to protect my ancestors and our MANA.”
Among other news, Shark Week 2022 led to a reunion of sorts for Jackass member Sean McInerney, who experienced a harrowing shark encounter during the previous year’s event.
Not wanting a newfound fear of sharks to keep him out of the ocean (not ideal for a surfer) the survivor returned in 2022 to swim among the sharks with the other Jackass members.
WHY WE LOVE ‘SHARK WEEK’
Not only does Discovery’s Shark Week provide us with hours upon hours of entertainment for one week in July, but it also helps to educate, raise awareness and increase conservation efforts that last much longer than just a week.
Check out DIRECTV’s Shark Week Hub for more of the shark content to keep you afloat.
9 FUN FACTS ABOUT SHARKS
In the name of spreading awareness and education, here are some of our favorite facts about sharks:
1. There are four different ways for sharks to reproduce, depending on the species:
Viviparity: An egg develops in the womb which leads to a live birth after anywhere from seven months to three years of gestation. Viviparous shark species include blue sharks, bull sharks, mako sharks and whale sharks.
Oviparity: An egg is fertilized in the womb and then laid in a deposit in the water – sometimes referred to as “mermaid purses.” Oviparous sharks can lay anywhere from 10-200 eggs, depending on the species. Species include bamboo sharks, horn sharks and zebra sharks.
Ovoviviparity: An egg is fertilized in the womb and subsequently hatches in the womb before a live birth takes place. Shark pups living in the womb will live off a yolk sac (not a placenta like viviparity) until it’s time to be born, and sometimes the first pup born in the womb will eat the other fetuses to ensure only the strongest sharks survive. Ovoviviparity species include great white sharks, nurse sharks, pygmy sharks and tiger sharks.
Asexually: While uncommon, some female sharks can reproduce asexually under certain circumstances like in captivity or in an area without males. There are only two well-documented examples of asexual shark reproduction right now.
2. 450 million years and five mass extinctions later, sharks have continued to inhabit the open oceans. Only with the introduction of humans has the risk of extinction for sharks increased so much.
3. Sharks are “elasmobranchs,” so they do not have bones, and instead are made up of cartilaginous tissue (like our ears and tips of our nose).
4. 97% of all sharks are completely harmless to humans! In fact, coconuts and jellyfish are statistically more likely to kill a person than a shark attack.
5. Sharks have tooth-shaped skin called dermal denticles that help it to glide through the water without collecting algae and barnacles. This makes their skin feel like sandpaper.
6. Sharks can see nearly 360 degrees around due to the placement of their eyes on the sides of their head; their two blind spots are in front of the snout and right behind the tail.
7. As APEX predators, sharks are at the top of the ocean food chain and directly impact all other ocean species.
8. Scientists have never been able to locate a great white shark mating ground but may be close to do so during this year’s migration, with the help of nearly 100 tagged sharks.
9. In general, female sharks tend to be larger than male sharks because they need more space to develop their young (i.e., female tiger sharks).
DISCOVERY CHANNEL’S ‘SHARK WEEK’ SCHEDULE
This year’s MC will be the one and only Aquaman, Jason Momoa.
HOW LONG IS ‘SHARK WEEK’?
Shark Week, as the name suggests, runs for one week in the month of July (7 days of programming) on the Discovery Channel.
WHEN IS ‘SHARK WEEK’?
Shark Week will kick off on July 23, 2023 and span the week following.
WHAT ‘SHARK WEEK’ SPECIALS SHOULD I WATCH?
If you just can’t wait for the 2023 event to begin, there are hours and hours of special programming from previous years to enjoy. And with your DIRECTV subscription, you can watch hundreds of episodes on TV, live streaming online or on the DIRECTV app.
Some of our favorite content from past Shark Week years include:
‘AIR JAWS APOCALYPSE’
One of Discovery’s top shows, Air Jaws (not to be mistaken as a sequel to Jaws the movie, which you can also watch on DIRECTV) shows the power and grace of the magnificent great white shark. These creatures catch their prey by leaping out of the water, giving us a small glimpse into the mysterious species.
Shark expert Chris Fallows and his team travel to Seal Island, South Africa to study Colossus, a 14-foot great white. And thanks to all new camera technology, we get to see Colossus more up close and personal than ever before.
‘PIGS VS SHARK’
You may be familiar with the pigs that swim happily in the waters of the Bahamas, but did you know we aren’t the only ones taking an interest in them?
In fact, this program was filmed because some people believe the local tiger shark population have gotten the taste for pork. What will happen to the swimming pigs if the sharks are looking for another taste? Watch on DIRECTV to find out!
‘MISSION SHARK DOME’
One of the best parts about Shark Week is seeing the new technology developed to further shark research. In Mission Shark Dome, shark experts use new dive technology to observe the animals without the noisy scuba gear they used to use.
This allows the crew to locate an elusive great white pupping zone, where young sharks are located, without disturbing them.
‘IMPRACTICAL JOKERS SHARK WEEK SPECTACULAR’
The Impractical Joker guys are known for their extreme and unrelenting challenges, but what happens when you add sharks to that? Joey, James and Craig set out to disprove the myth that sharks are hungry for humans with, of course, dares and challenges taken to the extreme.
And while this may sound like a terrifying Shark Week mission, as we learned from our shark fun facts, 97% of sharks are harmless to humans – so they should be okay.
Even More Shark Week Content
- Impress Friends with These Shark Week Facts
- The 10 Weirdest, Coolest Sharks in the World
- 10 Pop Culture Sharks for Shark Week
- The Top 4 Jaws Movies of All-Time
- Even More Shark Facts to Impress Your Friends
GET discovery with DIRECTV TODAY
Tune into Discovery on DIRECTV (Ch. 278) to make sure you don’t miss any of your favorite sea predator action.
Find out how to get your DIRECTV subscription, just in time for Shark Week.
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