Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Grand Fin-ale

Woke up a tad depressed this morning.  Color you surprised!  I always find the "Day After" a bit of a downer.  The day after Shark Week wraps for the year.  I watch the Discovery Channel more during Shark Week than I do the other fifty-one weeks of the year, which I realize speaks more to my lack of intellect than it does to their lack of quality programming.  I shall be able to wean off of it a bit more gradually than in years past I suppose.  I planned ahead this year and set my DirectTV to record all of the Shark Week programs.  The ones I missed (or fell asleep while watching) I can now view at my leisure.  Ah, the joys of modern technology.

Usually my favorite programs of Shark Week are the "Air Jaws" shows.  I never tire of watching a ton or so of hostile fish fury shooting out of the water like a torpedo in pursuit of food only to realize that it has just chomped down hard on an old bicycle tire.  I presume that to date the great white sharks of South Africa have not figured out that the humans on the boat twenty feet or so away from them are the one perpetuating this particular mind fuck upon them solely for their own entertainment.  Perhaps when they figure it out we will have reached the end of the "Air Jaws" series - we fade to black as one large, extremely pissed off fish breaches the boat and dumps its occupants into the water like a box of fish sticks. 

Truth be told the thing I like the most about the "Air Jaws" programs is what they do not show:  human beings sticking our noses into something that neither wants nor needs our interference.  Given the inherent cuteness of seals, the historic evildoer status of great whites and the former's status as the #1 "to go" food of choice of the latter, I consider it no small accomplishment that to date no one has sought to impose any "humanity" on their eco-system.  It may be tough for the Smurfs among us to watch Snuffy the Seal get hammered by Jaws but it is important that we recognize the role each plays in sustaining life in that part of the world. 

And it is equally important that we recognize that for decades and perhaps centuries before Peter Benchley wrote Jaws these two species were living out this drama in splendid isolation.  The fact that the bigger, not nearly as adorable animal hunts and kills a significant number of the smaller, far more cuddly animal not only is of no moment but it actually ignores the bigger picture altogether.  The seals in that area swim through the kill zone of the great whites to get to the open water and the fish that they hunt and kill and eat to survive.  While there may be a lot of fish in the sea (said everyone's mother at some point in one's sad teenage years), there is not an infinite number of them.  Would there be enough to feed the seal population in perpetuity if there was not an effective seal population control device on hand?  I do not know.  I do know that if we the people do not fuck with these particular members of the animal kingdom I shall never need to find out. 

For as much as I enjoy the "Air Jaws" shows, the show I enjoyed the most this year was "Spawn of Jaws".  If you did not see it, do not let the 1950's Saturday matinee horror movie matinee schlocky title scare you off.  It followed the work of a marine biologist named Michael Domeier and his team in their efforts to learn where great white sharks mate and where the females give birth.  To ensure the safety of the great white sharks - during the process in which they are fitted with long-life transmitter tags that will report information as to their migratory patterns for up to twenty-four months (pregnancy apparently lasts up to eighteen months - more time to shop for hard-to-find shower items!) - Domeier and his team never take them out of the water.  Working from a boat barely bigger than "Orca", they hold these enormous fish in place right next to the boat while Domeier uses his trusty DeWalt drill to drill a hole in the cartilage of the dorsal fin to which the container for the transmitter is attached.  Both of the adult female great whites they showed his team successfully tag during the show were approximately the length of his boat and weighed as much if not more than it did.  Dude has a brass set of balls.  Simply amazing stuff. 

The one thing I could do without in Shark Week 2014 is the obligatory MythBusters episode.  I get it that the MythBusters dudes are Discovery Channel stars although the few episodes of their show I have seen have left me decidedly unimpressed.  But during Shark Week - with its limited amount of programming hours - it serves little purpose (to me anyway) to devote an entire hour to this bunch of special effects geeks and their inane experiments.  If you want to drop the whole lot of them in a shark cage off of Seal Island and then start chumming the water around them, then you have a program that shall capture my attention. 

Oh yeah - one more thing:  no more Hasselhoff.  Ever. 

-AK

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