The Discovery Channel‘s famous Shark Week programming draws in huge audiences and generates

shark week

Image illustrating the size of the extinct megalodon shark from BBC News.

enormous social media chatter, but audience and social media conversation aren’t the only giants involved. Shark Week focuses disproportionately on the megalodon, a massive, now-extinct shark thought to have lived 2.6 million years ago. Only, Discovery Channel, and its subsidiary, Animal Planet, doesn’t disclose that in its fake documentaries.

These programs, often referred to as ‘docufiction,’ feature titles like, Mermaids and Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives. Shot and edited to look like nonfictional films, these fake documentaries flash a brief statement expressing that their content is fiction toward the end of the program – hardly conspicuous enough for many audience members to take note. Thus confusion about when the megalodon lived, and whether or not it still lives, dominates much conversation about sharks and Shark Week.

shark week

Photo of David Shiffman in Charleston provided by Shiffman.

David Shiffman, an alum of the College’s Graduate Program in Marine Biology now living in Florida, was awarded the title of Florida’s Marine Science Educator of the Year in 2014. In a blog post, he said, “Not once since the Monster Shark Lives aired have I spoken to a group of children and not been asked about the megalodon.”

Shiffman has taken to blogging and social media repeatedly in the past in an effort to appeal to the Discovery Channel and convince them to pull their misleading ‘docufiction’ content. He has not been alone, many shark and marine biology scholars are offended by the blatantly false information presented as fact during Shark Week. Together they all celebrated a win in January 2015 when the new president of the Discovery Channel announced the network would no longer air its Megalodon films and the like.

Find out how…

Learn more about how Shiffman and his colleagues in the marine science field were able to get through to Discoverin this blog post from The Scuttlefish written by adjunct marine biology professor Carolyn Sotka!

Featured image credit: Karen Carr via Wikimedia Commons.