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Shark Week – July 21-28, 2024

Shark Week happens every year in July or August and takes place from July 21 to 28 this year. It’s a yearly, weeklong grouping of shark-related show episodes, documentaries, and movies that airs on the Discovery Channel.

Heaps of Americans grew up harboring a fascination with sharks and the never-stand-still, ruthless, killer instinct they embody. Discovery’s week of programming has become traditional fare for a generation of would-be shark scientists, in-cage filmmakers, and thrill-seekers. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss this year’s Shark Week!

History of Shark Week

It’s a popular story among Discovery employees that the idea for Shark Week was originally literally scrawled on a cocktail napkin. In the late 1980s, creator Steve Cheskin and some colleagues were reputedly enjoying a drink and discussing what would be a fun thing to add to the then-young channel’s lineup, and somebody said, “You know what would be awesome? Shark Week!” Another member of the group grabbed a pen and wrote the idea down on the closest scrap of paper: the napkin.

Starting in 1988, the idea proved to be a winner, raking in winning ratings for the channel and rekindling America’s love affair with the ocean predator, the peak till that point was probably the 1975 movie, “Jaws.”

Since that time, Shark Week has gained popularity, adding hosts in 1994 starting with Peter Benchley and eventually household names such as Mike Rowe, Craig Ferguson, and Shaquille O’Neal.

We could go into greater detail, but Shark Week is one of those things you have to experience. Keep your finger on the pulse of cable releases, and don’t miss this year’s celebration!

Shark Week timeline

A docu-drama catches flak

The mockumentary, “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” is an instant fan favorite and ratings hit, but many scientific minds protest, saying that Shark Week should be consistently reality-based and accurate.

Reality gaming?

As a part of the 20th anniversary Shark Week, a video game called “Sharkrunners” that uses GPS data from real sharks tagged with radio signal emitters, is released.

A nightmare in real life

A group of friends, while sailing their billionaire friend’s yacht from Maryland to Florida, suffer horribly after capsizing and being picked off by tiger sharks one by one, eventually inspiring the 2019 Shark Week film “Capsized: Blood in the Water.”

The “Jaws Effect”

With the release of the most famous shark movie of the time, public fears about the predatory fish are amplified and sustained, resulting in not only a new Hollywood niche that would be capitalized upon countless times in succeeding years but also an ongoing desire by fishermen to kill sharks, resulting in dangerously (for them) low populations.

Shark Week FAQs

How often is Shark Week?

It airs every year on the Discovery Channel in July or August. 

When is Shark Week 2020?

Due to COVID-19 and the nation being in isolation, Discovery brought Shark Week forward to a weekend in April as a treat for the nation. We’re not yet sure on the exact dates fo the July or early August programming.

When was the first-ever Shark Week?

July 1988

Shark Week Activities

  1. Take part…

    Watch the shows, of course. As stated above (and we speak from experience), even if you never thought sharks were all that special, you’ll find yourself fascinated by the wealth of information and anecdotal evidence of their amazing ways. with solid facts.

  2. 2. Make a donation to save the sharks

    They may not be the cutest, most cuddly creatures on earth, but sharks are still an integral part of the world’s ecosystem that is becoming endangered. Many organizations are trying to make a difference, from “Project AWARE” to “Predators in Peril.”

  3. Read up on some strictly factual shark science

    According to the website “Sharksider” (and we agree), the top three books to read about sharks are “Blue Meridian” by Peter Matthiessen, “Sharks of the World” by David E. Ebert, et al., and “The Secret Life of Sharks” by Peter Klimley. You can’t go wrong, armed


  1. Picking and choosing

    Once a Great White reaches 2.5 meters (just over 8 feet) long, it will only eat sea mammals, making the switch from a diet of mostly small fish.

  2. Sun lovers

    Somewhat counterintuitively, the Great White prefers to hunt not at night but in broad daylight, depending upon its eyesight to properly track prey (though the shark does shut its eyes in the moment of the attack).

  3. Not calorie counters

    To keep up their body temperature (partially by transferring heat from their moving muscles) and to maintain energy levels, Great Whites predominately seek prey with high-fat content, like seals or whales.

  4. Big babies

    After a gestation period of 18 months, a mother Great White will give birth to four to six “pups,” each measuring in length between 1.2 and 1.5 meters (four or five feet)!

  5. Not immune to cancer

    Contrary to a popular myth that has persisted for decades and resulted in large amounts of shark-fin soup being consumed “medicinally,” there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that sharks don’t get cancer; they do.

Why We Love Shark Week

  1. The “Jaws” theme music

    Perhaps as a boy or a girl you had an older sibling who would come up behind you in the pool or at the lake, singing the ominous tones from “Jaws,” duh-nun, duh-nun, DUH-NUN, before grabbing you like an attacking shark. Hey, what’s childhood without inter-sibling trauma? But now, as an adult, you can joke more appropriately with your office cohorts, we presume.

  2. It’s the original “binge-watching” series of programs

    Here’s a thing: in 1988, the year of Discovery’s first Shark Week, MTV still played mostly music videos. You could turn the channel from Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” to frightening footage of an Australian Great White decimating a hapless seal. Hmm, which one to choose?

  3. It’s part of Americana

    We love it because it’s an ingrained part of our culture, like Super Bowl commercials or roadside fast-food joints. To enjoy the heck out of Shark Week is to take your place in the American mythos.

Shark Week dates

2023July 23Sunday
2024July 7Sunday
2025July 6Sunday

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