Geez, Team Ocean, you’re doing too good of a job with all this Shark Week outreach. I mean, really. I can barely keep up with all the press about the lack of science. But we’re following as closely as we can, and are here to give you the bird’s-eye view of what an impact you’re making together. Also, we’ve got some news on dolphin squeals, sea star deaths, and James Cameron’s new deep sea flick.
In this issue
- Social mentions of #SharkWeek down 52% from last year
- Most Shark Week media coverage is critical
- How to Shark Week tonight
- The latest on sea star deaths
- What does the dolphin say?
- Long on Cameron, short on science
Social mentions of #SharkWeek down 52% from last year
Every year since 2009, mentions of Shark Week on social platforms have nearly doubled from their previous year. Not this time - they’re tracking at 2012 levels. What are some possible causes? Is this due to backlash against fake documentaries and a lack of science? Has Discovery just lost their PR magic? Whatever the reason, Upwell thinks it’s very very interesting. When Discovery inevitably comes out with their press release saying it’s been their biggest year ever, look for their now-standard disclaimer - it may only appear for a tenth of a second. ;)
Total social mentions for Upwell’s Shark Week 2013 and 2014 keyword groups, compared by day-of-week.
Most Shark Week media coverage is critical
Take a look at a Google News search for “Shark Week,”
and you won’t find the reprints of Discovery press releases that you’ve seen in previous years. Instead, it’s a litany of critical articles echoing what Team Ocean has been saying: “We love Shark Week, but enough of the fiction. Let’s get back to science.”
Here’s some of the top articles from the last couple days. Click to share on Twitter! And take a look at Monday
Tide Reports for more great articles that are worth sharing several more times before the week is up.
magazine provides a digestible history
of Shark Week, with a focus on how the Discovery Channel both “elevated and degraded sharks.”
The Wire goes a step further
, calling Shark Week “dead in the water,” explaining how viewers can’t tell the difference between fantastical and nonfiction content.
Brad Plumer from explainer journalism site Vox has a great article
and accompanying video that sums up all the backlash Discovery is getting for its unscientific content. (Seriously, we love this video
Influential reporters from across the web shared the Vox article with their opinions:
David Shiffman’s post on io9
from earlier this week, explaining how scientists have been duped into appearing on Shark Week specials, without knowledge that footage of them would be used to prop up stories of mythical sharks.
David Shiffman explains on EarthTouch News
why last night’s Zombie Sharks special promotes the harassment of animals for no express purpose.
Given all this media backlash, Ad Age has determined
that there’s a new cottage industry around shark week debunking. Good. (That’s you.)
Meanwhile, CNN Money has the scoop
on how Discovery stock took a dive during Shark Week. Discovery execs call the dip “typical,” but we have our doubts.
What is the effect of this kind of coverage on viewer perception of Discovery? Well, we’re hoping it looks like the results of this poll, featured in two articles
on The Oregonian
’s website this week.
How to Shark Week tonight
This evening’s serving of Shark Week offers up a mix of blood in the water “shark incident” re-enactments (I Escaped Jaws 2) and an investigation of a Hawaii “shark invasion” (Sharkageddon). Setting aside the obvious fact that sharks are not the real invaders, there may be some slight promise amid the Sharkageddon fearfest.
Team Ocean-er and Discover blogger Christie Wilcox
will be hosting a party of interested parties: “Since the special focuses on the animals studied by several graduate students and faculty members I know here in Hawaii, I decided to invite them over for a watch party. I’ll be live-tweeting their and my commentary during the Pacific airing of the special (7 PM Hawaii time, 10 PM Pacific, and 1 AM Eastern). Note: none of them, not a single one, was spoken to for the show, so we’re all very curious how the animals they study will be portrayed.”
for all the aloha-ppenings. [Editor’s note: groan] For the Jaws show, we recommend following the lead of Debbie Salamone (@debatpew
) and Shark Attack survivors for Shark Conservation.
Here’s your Shark Week toolkit,
and here’s your schedule:
I Escaped Jaws 2, 9pm / 8pm Central
Sharkageddon, 10pm / 9 Central, #Sharkageddon
Shark After Dark, 11pm / 10 Central
The latest on sea star deaths
Scientists are still exploring what could be causing one of the largest epidemics ever known to hit the ocean world. Science educator Lisa Gardiner gives us the update
at Scientific American.
What does the dolphin say?
Us humans have long had a fascination with trying to decipher the whistles, songs and squeals of dolphins and whales. Scientists now say they can decipher certain emotions, and have pinpointed dolphins’ squeals of delight
Long on Cameron, short on science
James Cameron’s film, Deepsea Challenge 3D, details his trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and was released to select theatres late last week. The film has been criticized as too long and not sciencey enough, so Jennifer Frazer took it upon herself to explain the biology of Challenger Deep
in more detail.