Discovery Channel will add technological twists to two of its specials, when it kicks off its 23rd annual "Shark Week" programming stunt on Sunday night.
Ten years ago, Discovery premieredAir Jaws, famous for its image of a one-ton great white shark launching itself from the water for a sneak attack on seals off the coast of South Africa. The film ranked as the fifth-most-watched Shark Week special ever, according to officials at the programmer.
On Aug. 1 at 9 p.m., Discovery will begin this year's Shark Week with the one-hour Ultimate Air Jaws, where producer Jeff Kurr returns to the scene this time armed with state-of-the-art HD equipment. Kurr and crew filmed the episode with an HD camera that shoots in super slow motion -- 2,000 frames per second, 20 to 30 times slower than typical slow-mo footage.
Kurr and shark expert Chris Fallows slow down the footage of a breaching shark from one second in real time to almost a full minute. The resolution provides so much detail viewers can count every tooth in the shark's mouth. They also employ a submarine and remotely operated helicopter to capture this incredible footage.
Technology is also at the forefront of the installment immediately following at 10 p.m.: Into The Shark Bite. Created by the producers of the network's Time Warp series, this special depicts the power of a shark bite from the views of the latest high-speed, HD cameras from varied angles.
Other Shark Week specials on tap include: Shark Attack Survival Guide, (Aug. 2 at 9 p.m.): where host and green beret Terry Schappert draws on his survival training to show ways to stay alive in five attack scenarios; Day of the Shark, (Aug. 2 at 10 p.m.): in which viewers can learn valuable lessons from six people who survived attacks; Shark Bite Beach (Aug. 3 at 9 p.m.): this special returns to the coast of California and Mexico, the sites in 2008 of a series of horrific shark attacks and looks to provide clues why the sharks mistook humans for prey; and Best Bites (Aug. 4 at 10 p.m.): CBS late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson appears taking viewers through some of the top moments from Shark Week specials past and with the help of experts explores amazing feats and facts about the creatures.
As per its wont, Discovery Channel again will educate the public about the plight of sharks around the world through public service announcements that will air each night during primetime, informing viewers about threats currently facing plummeting shark populations.
The network is also donating funds to Oceana, the world's largest international conservation organization focused solely on protecting and restoring the world's oceans. Each year, commercial fishing kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide, including tens of millions for their fins alone. Some shark populations, notably those of the tiger, scalloped and smooth hammerhead and bull, have declined by 97% or more. As the oceans' top predators, sharks play vital roles in marine ecosystems. The organizations are also teaming up to provide information about the plight of sharks - and what people can do to help - through blogs, social media outlets and PSAs.
At discovery.com/sharkweek, users will have access to all-new videos highlighting the world's most amazing shark footage including airborne great whites, fascinating shark behavior, incredible bites and more. They also can engage in shark behavior quizzes, a countdown of the top 100 awesome, bizarre and unbelievable facts about sharks, a profile gallery of the world's most well-known and weirdest sharks, the latest shark news, a countdown of who's doing the most to help sharks right now. Additionally, there are such "Shark Week"-inspired games and interactive as "Shark Munch" and "Shark Anatomy."
Back at corporate headquarters at Silver Springs, Md. Discovery Communications has once again installed the 446-foot inflatable "Chompie," who measures 113 feet from his belly to his dorsal fin and 200 feet from tip to tip on his side fins. If Chompie, stitched together by 6.65 miles of fabric, 36.7 miles of thread and ¾ of mile of seat belt webbing, were a real shark, he'd weigh in at some 84,000 pounds, according to Discovery officials. Taking place over two nights, Chompies' five piece -- head, two side fins, dorsal fin and tail -- were hoisted into place by a crane and tied down by ropes and, appropriately enough, cables.