Ultimate Guide to Shark Week: Schedule & Highlights

Shark Week: Your Complete Viewing Guide

The biggest, most jaw-dropping event in television programming is almost here…IT’S SHARK WEEK!!! Get ready to dive into the depths of the ocean's most captivating fish. This annual event isn't just about teeth and terror; it's a celebration of thrills, chills, and gills that keeps viewers hooked year after year. From heart-pounding action to fascinating insights, Shark Week offers education and entertainment to reel you in. Grab a bigger boat and swim with the fishes as we take a journey through the history and power of Shark Week and the mysterious, misunderstood apex predators we love.

Shark stuffed animal from Warmies.

What is Shark Week?

A quick Shark Week overview is that it is an annual week-long television event with a series of shark-related shows, in either July or August. Shark Week meaning the dedicated block of programming, captivates audiences worldwide with its focus on one of nature's most formidable predators: sharks. Originating on the Discovery Channel in the late 1980s, Shark Week has since evolved into a cultural phenomenon, typically airing for a week-long stretch during the summer months.

At its core, Shark Week means celebrating sharks; their behavior, their habitat, and their function within marine ecosystems. The educational importance of Shark Week is that it helps viewers educate themselves about these majestic creatures while dispelling the myths and misconceptions that surround them. By highlighting the importance of preserving these fascinating apex predators, Shark Week inspires viewers to take action and become defenders of the ocean.

From exploring the depths of the sea to showcasing the latest advancements in shark research, the programming offers a diverse range of content aimed at entertaining and informing audiences of all ages. While Shark Week certainly provides thrilling entertainment, its significance extends beyond the realm of television. The event plays a crucial role in marine biology and conservation efforts by raising awareness about the plight of sharks and the challenges they face, such as overfishing and habitat destruction. 

What sets Shark Week apart from regular programming is its unique blend of entertainment and education. Shark Week combines adrenaline-pumping shark encounters with insightful documentaries and expert commentary, creating a viewing experience that is both captivating and informative. Whether you're a seasoned marine biologist or someone with a passing interest in sharks, Shark Week offers something for everyone, making it a must-watch event each year.

When is Shark Week?

Shark Week always falls in either July or August, and Shark Week 2024 dates are set. Shark Week programming begins on July 21st and runs through the 28th. The Shark Week schedule each year is typically decided by the Discovery Channel, the network responsible for hosting the event. They carefully select dates that align with audience preferences, often targeting the summer months when viewership tends to be higher. 

In comparison to previous years, the schedule for Shark Week 2024 may vary slightly in terms of featured shows and programming themes. While some fan-favorite specials may return, there's always an element of surprise with new documentaries, groundbreaking research, and captivating shark encounters.

For those eager to stay up-to-date with the latest Shark Week calendar updates and announcements, checkout the Discovery Channel's official website, social media channels, and television promos is key. Additionally, fans can subscribe to email newsletters or join online communities dedicated to Shark Week enthusiasts, where discussions about upcoming programming and behind-the-scenes insights are often shared. By staying connected through these platforms, viewers can ensure they don't miss out on any exciting developments leading up to Shark Week 2024.

Who Hosts Shark Week?

Shark Week has seen a stellar lineup of hosts and guest appearances over the years, each bringing their charisma and expertise. From Dwane “The Rock'' Johnson to renowned zoologist Nigel Marven, Shark Week hosts a roster of celebrities as diverse as the ocean itself. Hosts like Andy Samberg and Shaquille O'Neal have also graced Shark Week, adding star power and excitement to the television event of the season.

These hosts play a crucial role in engaging viewers, drawing them in with their personalities and passion for marine life. Their involvement not only enhances the entertainment value but also lends credibility to the educational aspects of the shows. Fans eagerly anticipate announcements of upcoming hosts and special guests, knowing that their favorite personalities will guide them through a week of thrilling shark-centric content.

As for the most recent Shark Week, actor, superhero, and ocean conservationist Jason Momoa hosted. With the real-life aqua man as the host, viewers tuned in with the highest rating in three years. While the host for 2024 is a secret, shark lovers can expect star-studded and exciting celebrity guests on Shark Week, with surprising collaborations and as always, insightful commentary from experts in the field. With each new host and guest announcement, anticipation for Shark Week grows, promising another unforgettable dive into the world of sharks.

History of Shark Week

The origin story of Shark Week is iconic, starting with a passing thought scribbled on a cocktail napkin in the late 1980s. Discovery Channel was a young channel and creator Steve Cheskin and his colleagues were discussing potential ways to infuse fun into their lineup. Someone mentioned Shark Week, another scribbled it down on a napkin and the rest is finstory! Since its humble beginnings, Shark Week has soared (or rather swam) to popularity. Shark Week currently holds the record as the longest recurring program event in cable television history.

Back in 1988, it began as an effort to challenge shark stereotypes, made ultra-famous by the film Jaws which premiered in 1975. Shark Week quickly became a beloved summer tradition. The evolution of Shark Week is marked by programs such as the 1992 "Sharks of the Red Triangle" about the Great White Sharks off the central coast of California. In 2005, "Air Jaws," showcased breathtaking high-speed footage of Great Whites jumping out of the water hunting seals in South Africa, giving audiences a chance to see these apex predators in action. 

While adored by millions, Shark Week history is not without controversy, notably the 2013 mockumentary "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives." This program sparked debate over factual accuracy. In response, Shark Week refocused on science, featuring more shark experts and groundbreaking research, as seen in the 2016 "Tiger Beach" special. Technological advancements, such as the introduction of the "SharkCam," offered viewers unprecedented insights into shark behavior and gave audiences even more memorable Shark Week moments to enjoy.

What Network is Shark Week On?

Discovery Channel has remained the exclusive Shark Week network and broadcaster since 1988. While there have been partnerships with streaming platforms, the event primarily remains a flagship for Discovery. This exclusivity fosters viewer loyalty but may have limited accessibility for those without cable subscriptions in the past. Luckily, these days if you want to find where to watch Shark Week you’ve now got two options, on Discovery or Hulu. Hulu offers Shark Week streaming to their subscribers, with the additional option to watch it live. 

Why Do People Love Shark Week?

Why watch Shark Week? Simply put, because it’s jaw-some. Shark Week hooks viewers with its thrills and gills, mixing action, entertainment, and education. Shark Week will certainly reel you in with jaw-dropping footage and fin-tastic facts. Beyond the screen, the Shark Week fanbase is a tight-knit community of shark enthusiasts and ocean conservationists who have been steadfast in their love for sharks, chomping at the bit each year for deep dives into the ocean's most misunderstood predators. 

All puns aside, the benefits of Shark Week is that it changes public perception. After all, why would anyone care about an apex predator they are scared of? By changing hearts and minds, people see these majestic fish (yes, they are fish not mammals) and the essential role they play in ocean life. Shark Week gives us a peek into the mysterious world of the ocean, leading viewers to understanding and appreciation and inspiring us all to protect them and their habitats.

Environmental Impact of Shark Week

The idea is that the more people engage with Shark Week conservation and education programs, the more they will want to get involved. In this way, Shark Week may have done more to raise awareness about shark conservation than any other television program in history. Shark conservation biologist David Shiffman wrote that “Shark Week elevates science and has inspired the next generation of marine biologists.” Shiffman went on to pose his issues with the television event, citing that they promote factual inaccuracies, writing “No, sharks cannot smell a drop of blood a mile away.”

As for marine protection Shark Week has educated viewers on the role Sharks play in a healthy ocean ecosystem. In an ecosystem, all species have their part to play. As sharks are apex or top predators, they keep populations of prey species in check, which then keeps algae from overgrowing, which slows the decline of coral reefs. The environmental impact of overfishing sharks reaches the bottom of the ocean. Overfishing has led to more than 300 species of sharks being red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

Throwing a Shark Week Viewing Party

Want to dive into the fun of Shark Week? Host a fintastic Shark Week viewing party! Invite your nearest and dearest shark loving buddies over to watch the premier, either on Hulu’s live streaming option or on good old fashion cable t.v. Shark Week parties are about getting in deep to the action and adventure of the world’s coolest fish. There’s plenty of Shark Week activities that are educational or just fun, but our favorites are from Teacher Jamie, in her post about Shark Week Activities For The Classroom

Looking to participate in Shark Week but can’t plan a party? Watch the premier live so you can engage with other viewers on the internet, see their reactions, share shark conversation resources, learn and connect over the wonder that is Shark Week. 

Whether you’re trying to inspire young minds to become future marine biologists, have fun with friends, or celebrate alone, you’ll need to deck out your space with jaw-dropping Shark merch! There’s nothing quite like watching Shark Week with a jawsome stuffed animal. Shark Warmies are designed to look like Great White Sharks. Made with natural flaxseed and infused with real French lavender, Warmies stuffed plushies are microwavable and chillable making them the ideal binge-watching buddy to snuggle in summer! 

Shark Warmies, microwavable stuffed animal.