Discovery Channel seems to have something for everyone in their lineup for the network’s 27th annual Shark Week, which kicks off today.
Discovery is devoting 13 hours to shark-themed programming – the most in the history of this popular event week, along with the return of Josh Wolf’s popular late-night live talk show “Shark After Dark.”
And Discovery isn’t backing off the controversy it ignited last summer with its “dramatized” shark special “Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives.” A follow-up special, “Megalodon: The New Evidence,” is scheduled to premiere Friday.
One of the most anticipated offerings is set for Saturday: “Great White Matrix,” in which Aussie shark attack survivor Paul de Gelder and his colleague Andy Casagrande explore the development process that transforms sharks into voracious killing machines.
“It’s science mixed with action and real life,” de Gelder explained. “Andy and I are exploring the turning point in sharks’ development in life, from the juvenile, fish-eating sharks to where they get to the point that they can actually consume mammals. That’s when they become dangerous to humans. We’re after the whys and the hows, and where are they when this point happens? Where are the most dangerous points for you to be in a shark’s life?”
For de Gelder, one of those points came in 2009, when he was attacked by a bull shark in Sydney Harbor, Australia, during a navy counterterrorism exercise. De Gelder managed to escape the brief but savage encounter, but the shark bit off his right hand and injured his right leg so severely that it had to be amputated a few days later.
Despite this near-death experience, de Gelder insists he never let it take over his life.
“I’m too busy living life for that,” he said. “I’ve got dreams to accomplish and challenges to overcome. I had this awesome life beforehand, jumping out of planes and helicopters and diving all over the world. How am I going to give up that life because of (something that happened in) 10 seconds? I was lying in the hospital doing one-armed chin-ups on the bar over my bed two days after my leg was cut off, trying to get my physicality back so I could get back out there to work.”
That terrifying experience made him a better person, he adds.
“I don’t think it was the attack itself. I think it was what came after,” he explained. “It was the support from people who believed in me, and it was the integration of all the training I have had in overcoming adversity. That made me a much stronger individual, and the opportunities that arose after that, like helping kids and families who have gone through tough circumstances, all of that has made me a more charitable person. Everything came together to make me and my life better.”