I'm not sure whether Shark Week was ever really a great moment in science communication with the public. But after last week's Megalodon special and fake shark facts on Discovery Channel, we know for sure that sharks have joined UFOs in the annals of Great Pseudoscience. Shark researcher David Shiffman breaks it down for you.
First of all, let's acknowledge that a lot of good came out of Shark Week. Shiffman did an AMA on Reddit where he was able to give solid, scientific answers to the hundreds of people posing questions. And over on Southern Fried Science, he identifies a lot of other great stories worth reading, too:
The National Marine Fisheries Service showcased important science and management with ” #NOAAsharkweek .” Ed Yong posted the highlights of his past coverage of shark science and conservation issues, as did Deep Sea News. Deep Sea News also published a variety of awesome new content, including “5 cool things about sharks you won’t see on TV this week,” a powerful post by Alex Warneke about why it matters what content Discovery includes in their specials, a fascinating post by Holly Bik on the microbiome of sharks, a post on the physics of a SharkNado by my favorite physical oceanographer Kim Martini, and a list of shark-themed drinks from Craig. The Scientific American Blog Network had a lot of great shark science stories as well, with posts by Jason at Thoughtful Animal, John at Extinction Countdown, Darren at Tetrapod Zoology, and even Bora himself. PLoS blogs covered it. Even technology sites like Mashable got in on the shark action.
But then there was the Discovery Channel and its Megalodon special. Plus, this "documentary" about how the giant extinct shark could still exist wasn't the only problem, says Shiffman: