Articles, Blog

Why Sharks?

September 15, 2019


For the next few episodes here on The Brain Scoop we’re devoting our programming to everybody’s favorite cartilaginous fishes, the sharks. Why sharks? Well, sharks historically have received a lot of media attention by networks who aren’t always inclined to show their best side— —that is, the side that shows their species diversity, ecological importance, and looming threats to their population and distribution. Sharks are easy to sensationalize and to depict as fearsome, blood-thirsty maniacal killers out to consume everything in sight. That’s not to say they’re the most cuddly creatures in the ocean—that award goes to the nudibranchs— —but compare the number of times attention is given to shark attacks versus the attention given to their conservation needs and you’ll see what I mean. And, frankly, shark attacks are exceedingly rare and largely improbable compared to more statistically likely threats. You are TEN TIMES more likely to be bitten by another person in New York than you are to ever be attacked by a shark. Once you start comparing human fatalities caused by other bizarre events, you can figure that toppling vending machines, pigs, lighting strikes, and coconuts randomly falling from trees cause more injuries and deaths every year than attacks by sharks. Sharks and shark-like predators have dominated at the top of the aquatic food chain for the last 420 million years and they’ve survived every known major mass extinction event in the world’s history. They’ve been on our planet three times longer than the dinosaurs reigned, but their time might be coming to an early and completely avoidable end. Despite enduring incredible meteoritic impacts and severe climate fluctuations, the sharks’ biggest pressing threat today is caused by humans. Overfishing, environmental contaminants, and habitat destruction pose a risk to entire oceanic ecosystems. Remove these apex predators and others will take their place – but not without upsetting the finely balanced food chain, allowing for other predators with more select diets to create holes in habitats, the consequences of which we may not be able to judge for years to come. But, the good news is: we can change, and it starts with appreciating these animals and their unique placement within our oceans. So, stay tuned to see more of our 5 consecutive calendar days focusing on predatory cartilaginous fishes, because it’s definitely not S%#$& W##@.

100 Comments

  • Reply John Decibel August 12, 2014 at 12:12 am

    0:55 I don't want to go to New York now.

  • Reply Muscleduck August 12, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Gordon Ramsay made a good documentary about shark fishing, especially in Asia for shark fin soup.

  • Reply Chizel88 August 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

    hehe, nude-y branches

  • Reply URKillingme100 * August 12, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Please learn to do something (else) with you hands.  You are awesome otherwise.  🙂

  • Reply Nicole Slater August 12, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I'm so excited for this! Sharks are incredible, my personal favorite is the Tiger shark. I know you guys are going to make some awesome (and educational) videos! You always do 🙂

  • Reply Alex August 12, 2014 at 1:25 am

    Um, totally counterproductive, but I'd love to see you guys dissect a shark. Perhaps if an aquarium ever lost one or one turned up (fresh) on the beach. I will feel sorry for you though, 'cause dead fish stink and you really have to get to them fast. But yeah, that'd be really cool to watch and learn from! 

  • Reply Drumminforlife93 August 12, 2014 at 1:34 am

    YEAH FINALLY SHARKS!!!!!!!!

  • Reply John Herman August 12, 2014 at 1:47 am

    I've always loved sharks since I was a litttle kid, glad to see they're getting the brain scoop treatment!

  • Reply roger aburto August 12, 2014 at 1:49 am

    FINALLY!!! AFTER YEARS OF WAIT… IT HAS ARRIVED !!!!! fan girls

  • Reply Boat August 12, 2014 at 1:53 am

    That alligator gar is eyeballing Rocket in the background.

  • Reply SmilingJack100 August 12, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Did anyone else find the bleep of the "shark" in shark week really funny?  Like those uncesscary censorship videos, or the one about the count?

  • Reply Graham Hunt August 12, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Is that an alligator gar in the background?!  

  • Reply OakAndOats August 12, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Did the bleep at the end have something to do with Comedy Central's "Shart" week?

  • Reply Bettie Turner August 12, 2014 at 2:31 am

    This anti-sharkweek stuff bums me out – I haven't had cable for a while, but shark week used to be really awesome and show all that stuff she had listed on the page… I guess things have really changed.

  • Reply Juan Borjas August 12, 2014 at 2:42 am

    All this information on sharks was so interesting. I had no idea shark attacks were so rare. We should defenetly take more care and attention to sharks before they all become endangered species.

  • Reply CONI August 12, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Is "submarine" shark real?

  • Reply jazzclarinet2006 August 12, 2014 at 3:02 am

    The Brain Scoop: making up for the pathetic mess that is the Discovery Channel since December 2012.

  • Reply Annette Moulder August 12, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Thank you for the sane information compared to the crap that a certain channel is broadcasting. Got a question though: is that a pike behind you?

  • Reply FrayedLogic August 12, 2014 at 3:37 am

    What do you think has the strongest effect on sharks: Environmental/overfishing, or the killing of sharks just for their fins? Also, for the record, I'm the guy going around biting people in NY. I just wanted that statistic to be unusually high. :p

  • Reply Chrno216 August 12, 2014 at 3:46 am

    What can I say, we New Yorkers like biting. 

  • Reply rhemorigher August 12, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Why Sharks?
    Because sharks say so, and honestly who's going to argue with sharks?

  • Reply Mach1048 August 12, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Sooooo……. what I'm taking from this video is that we need sharks to protect us from Vending machines?  😀

  • Reply Brian Singer August 12, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Well I know where I'm coming all week for my marine biological educational content.

  • Reply MissScarletTanager August 12, 2014 at 4:47 am

    Nudibranch's <3

  • Reply Vamdae August 12, 2014 at 4:54 am

    My favorite cartilaginous fish is a shark ray, which technically isn't a shark. Very close to one. Its basically the inbetween of sharks and rays (they are so cool looking and have cool teeth.)

  • Reply Rinoa Super-Genius August 12, 2014 at 5:05 am

    so i take it discovery channel has kept going down hill? glad i cut the cable and went to youtube in 2008. now my television can focus entirely on the most important task bestowed to any tv…..displaying my Nintendo's video signal.

  • Reply SumRandomAznGirl August 12, 2014 at 5:15 am

    I sincerely hope you'll be covering whale sharks!  They're my favorite kind of shark because they're so docile, they're the largest known living species of fish, and their faces are really derpy.  I had the chance to dive with whale sharks in the Philippines, and it was a jaw dropping experience to be next to essentially a floating minivan.

  • Reply grace August 12, 2014 at 6:17 am

    I LOVE SHARKS, and thank god they're getting some positive attention!  It's hard to get people to support conservation of something they're scared of.  

  • Reply Molly Ringwald August 12, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Yay! Emily goes Shark week!

  • Reply Molly Ringwald August 12, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Why would anyone kill sharks? You can't even eat them. (I don't think you can eat them. At least I've never seen shark meat in any stores.)

  • Reply Kyle Mundy August 12, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Thank you for doing this.
    Also if you do a segment on nudibranchs my life will be complete. They're kind of my favorite thing ever and also the subject of my scientific research 😀

  • Reply Erin McNeill August 12, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Yeah Australian government get your shit together and save the sharks!

  • Reply spenx09 August 12, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Really cool, can't wait for the other videos

  • Reply spartan1010101 August 12, 2014 at 7:42 am

    YESSS I LOOOOOVE SHARKS!!!!

  • Reply gene August 12, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I guess we should say "SAVE THE SHARKS" then? Animal conservation is important after all. 🙂

  • Reply gene August 12, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Hank told us on SciShow that there will be 5 whole episodes on Brain Scoop just for sharks! Yeah!

  • Reply Devious Malcontent August 12, 2014 at 9:28 am

    yay Sharks! 😀

  • Reply librarychair August 12, 2014 at 10:59 am

    "Shark Week" has become a euphemism around here for that week when you spurt blood out your orifices (or one of them)

  • Reply DanThePropMan August 12, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Please talk more about the threat humans pose to sharks from overfishing. We kill far too many for their cartilage, which is turned into a supplement that some people think will prevent cancer because sharks don't get cancer. (Spoiler: they do, and shark cartilage supplements are useless.) On the other hand, we also kill them for the "delicacy" that is shark fin soup and waste the rest of the bodies.

  • Reply Cheeseburger In Paradise August 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    0:47 Anne Frankly… hehehehe

  • Reply Glenn Woods' Bold Republic Radio Show August 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Emily in a shark tank…. Okay I don't see it happening but..that would be an interesting episode. 

  • Reply Jeffrey Butler August 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Sharks attack 36 people per year on average. More than 200,000 people are attacked by dogs each year. Little perspective for ya.

  • Reply Liger-Zero August 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    as a chinese, im telling the other chinese STOP EATING SHARKS FINS SOUP you god damn sons of bitches

  • Reply gravityvertigo13579 August 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I think she said shart week at the end there.

  • Reply Willie Zenk August 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Check your coconut figures again, @Brain Scoop 

  • Reply ExtrackterYT August 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Whaaa… has  Luis Suarez moved to New York!?

  • Reply Efren Chen August 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Curse NBC's shark hunters!

  • Reply Mark Susskind August 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Well-placed bleep!

  • Reply Troy Adams August 12, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    "Remove these apex predators, and others will take their place", sounds like a foreboding line from a 90's monster movie.

  • Reply Orion Fu August 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Not to take attention away from the sharks… but what is that scary looking fish behind you?

  • Reply Jonathan Eby August 12, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I'm super stoked that you guys are all doing episodes on Sharks this week, however with the exception of "Submarine" (WHAT?!???!) I think while Discovery's Shark Week is a great source of both appreciation, and the science of sharks. While they can exaggerate some aspects of the story's they tell (see the history channel effect), I have learned a TON about sharks over the years and really appreciate them because of shark weeks hard (though sometimes masked) science. Thanks for making great videos, a huge fan.

  • Reply KiddsockTV August 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Nudi.. what? LOL Sorry.. I had to chuckle..  Great info though! Thank you!!

    I bet a falling sperm whale and falling bowl of petunias have a better chance of killing people. But the whale just wants to be friends.

  • Reply schmittelt August 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Hooray for sharks!

  • Reply tchence August 12, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    you just gave me real facts about sharks during shark week its been years and for that i love you

  • Reply Carlos Romero August 12, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Is it just me or was anyone else reminded of The Life Aquatic watching this?

  • Reply vidoxi August 13, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Because it's definitely not WHAT week? :U

  • Reply Joshua Chow August 13, 2014 at 3:28 am

    SHARK WEEK! But it's about how we should protect them, and how we are more harmful to sharks' lives than sharks are to us.

  • Reply mostlyTarafied August 13, 2014 at 3:53 am

    Fun (though somewhat sad) fact: the author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, was horrified by the repercussions of the success of the Jaws movies. He never intended for society to become horrified of sharks nor did he want them to be feared–and respectively killed because of that fear. He sought to correct these wrongs by writing nonfiction works and advocating for shark conservation. When he died his wife carried on his legacy of advocating for shark conservation. It's sad how the fear of sharks became so out of hand by a man who truly respected the animal.

  • Reply Teri Scallon August 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I am totally using the coconut stat

  • Reply hystericallyinsane August 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Is that an alligator gar in the background?

  • Reply Alectrifiied August 14, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Hehehe… 420 million years… blaze it…

  • Reply Elaine Zhang August 14, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I am definitely on board for the awareness of shark conservation, however I would like to point out that living on an island continent (Australia) shark attacks are far more likely than random coconuts falling on heads or other random causes of death.

  • Reply scott33761 August 14, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I've loved your show sense I saw you baking cookies a long time ago, I wish I had a friend like you, smart, bubbly, informative.

  • Reply synthstatic August 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    It would be tragic if people were to one day swim without fear of sharks. The sea needs monsters. 5-10 humans a year isn't such a bad price to pay for creatures that fill us with such fearful wonder and wonderful fear.

  • Reply synthstatic August 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Also sad that our intellectual property laws are written such that purveyors of pseudo-educational schlock like the Discovery Channel can apparently forbid a respected institution from using the phrase "Shark Week". I say liberate Shark Week.

  • Reply Molly McEnerney August 15, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Here'a a cartilaginous question – what's the difference between skates and rays?

  • Reply Savant August 15, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Clearly nudibrachs are not the most cuddly creatures in the ocean. That award goes to the cuttlefish. Seriously, bad puns aside; those things are cute. And they have lots of arms for cuddling.

  • Reply John R August 15, 2014 at 6:19 am

    I always thought Nudibranch was pronounced "new-di-brank." HAVE I BEEN LIED TO GASP?!?!?!

  • Reply Zidane Puspokusumo August 15, 2014 at 9:46 am

    racial stereotype

  • Reply cecasander August 15, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    "Because it's definitely not beep week".
    What week!? Fuck week? What!?

  • Reply Gerardo Trujillo August 16, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Shart Week.

  • Reply Amy M August 17, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I'll stick to Brain Scoop for my shark facts over Discovery Channel's fake and misleading "documentaries" any day. Remember when Discovery Channel had THE BEST factual documentaries? These days we're getting mockumentaries on Mermaids. Sigh.

  • Reply LillyAnn121 August 18, 2014 at 1:11 am

    More apex predator appreciation weeks please

  • Reply Aladato August 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    You gotta be quite awesome and awful at the same time to be capable of potentially extinguishing a species that exists for hundreds of millions of years.
    That's we alright. Let's watch these sh*rk week episodes to learn about them.

  • Reply Ray Murphy August 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Saving sharks doesn't start at understanding here in America. China fish markets are the main cause for shark endangerment. I don't know about you, but the average American or European has never eaten shark and has no interest in eating shark. Aim your outrage at China and their weird obsession with killing and eating endangered species.

  • Reply top1214 August 23, 2014 at 5:53 am

    It is definitely not shart week.

  • Reply greenghost2008_Progressive August 25, 2014 at 6:44 am

    I took a class on this kind of stuff for gen ed. Why do anthropology profs and profs like them always dress like they just came back from a camping trip. Oh wait nevermind.lol

  • Reply greenghost2008_Progressive August 25, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Also, my internalized misogyny is freaking out right now.

  • Reply Ivan Romanov August 31, 2014 at 2:31 am

    How about a program on Homo Floresiensis?
    I know the anthropologist at your Museum (Robert Martin) is not convinced that Floresiensis is a newly discovered species of human, but many others have accepted the evidence as fact.

  • Reply Nightshifter September 2, 2014 at 9:25 am

    This was fantastic. Thank you.

  • Reply PSpurgeonCubFan September 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Go Team Nudibranch!

  • Reply Uncoordinated Randomness September 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

    So basically you're saying that coconuts are deadlier that sharks?

  • Reply Genkaro October 5, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Every species biggest threat is us humans. We done fucked up.

  • Reply Evan Liao October 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Nope! Not going to New York. East Coast is scary… XD

  • Reply Michael Stewart November 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    I understand that those other events such as toppling vending machines, plane crashes or being bitten on the streets of New York  happen more frequently by comparison but that, to me, CANNOT be compared to any scenario not involving vending machines, plane crashes or being bitten.

    For example:
    If I swim with a shark once a year and I go to a vending machine 1000 time in a year and I'm bitten every time I swim with the shark and the vending machine falls on me 100 times, the shark is still MORE dangerous than the vending machine even though it fell on me 100 times that year and the shark only bit me once. Because the shark bit me 100% of the time whiles the vending machine only fell on me 10% of the time. What I feel like they are doing is taking the number and not the percentage. I could say that the vending machine fell on me 100 times but the shark only bit me once so the vending machine is more dangerous but that is a misuse of the information. And I feel like that’s what you did (or whoever gave you that stat).

    You also have to take into account the number of people who have access to a shark. The ONLY way I see this comparison making sense is if I swam with a shark 1000 times and went to a vending machine the same number of times and I was bitten by the shark less times then the vending machine fell on me. Then you could say that the vending machine is more dangerous.  Thanks and I love your show!!

  • Reply Michael Stewart November 10, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Also i understand that you say those other things cause more deaths every year than sharks. It would seem on the surface that your saying sharks are less dangerous than those other things but really that sentence doesn't tell you a single thing about your likelihood of being attacked by a shark. Its exactly the same as me saying more people die of cancer in a year than the vacuum of space.

  • Reply Jake Withee December 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Is that an alligator gar in the background?  Those things are terrifying.

  • Reply Baneling Farmer December 14, 2014 at 5:17 am

    While those statistics may be true, they don't really prove much. While the chances of an average person being attacked by a shark is very unlikely, most people do not go into shark habitat to possibly get bitten in the first place. As a student studying marine biology I spend much time in the ocean where seeing sharks (mostly small reef sharks) is common. The real question is what are my chances of being attacked as someone who spends several hours a week in the ocean?

  • Reply SciJoy January 28, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Yay for real science

  • Reply ShadeSlayer1911 March 31, 2015 at 8:16 am

    But what about the Sturgeon?! They're also predatory cartilaginous fish.

  • Reply Kraflyn April 6, 2015 at 12:52 am

    isn't "fish" a noun with irregular  plural? Cheers 😀

  • Reply Lirk Ravnsgaard August 5, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    the fuck kinda people live in new york

  • Reply Gryffix August 25, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I always find the "coconut falling on head" example weird.
    First of all; For me (as someone who lives in Europe) dying from a coconut falling on my head is extremely unlikely and the odds might be next to zero. For someone in – let's say – Jamaica – those odds are bigger. Also, there's a difference between swimming in the North Sea and the Florida coast. These are things that aren't being taken into consideration when people bring up this example.
    For someone who has a beach house in Jamaica the odds of getting killed by a coconut are bigger than the odds of getting killed by a shark. But for a surfer from Florida I am sure the odds of getting attacked by a shark are bigger.

  • Reply damytitnedi November 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    OMG I love sharks

  • Reply fatsamcastle December 8, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    But sharks want to bite. Whereas vending machine, coconuts, etc are accidents.
    Consciousness is scarier than the inanimate.

  • Reply The Cloud of Fire March 21, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I don't know … New York is full of some shady people

  • Reply Chezta Ahmad May 25, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    literally, number of people died because of mosquito bites > number of people died because of shark attacks

  • Reply Rizq Najee-Ullah September 14, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    So you change the clothes you are wearing… Good for you keep up the good work 👍👍👍👍👍👏👏👏👏👏

  • Reply Zephyrus411 October 2, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I hate statistics because it most often involves a huge group of people in comparison to a small occurrence in a localized area. They give an example that you would be more likely to be bitten by a person in New York City than a shark. OK, so out of the 7.5 billion people on the planet, how many people have even been to NYC?? I haven’t. So does that make me more likely to get bitten my a citizen of that city than a shark? NO! It just depends where you live. Just as they say it’s more likely you’ll be killed driving a car than traveling by plane. How many Americans travel by plane than cars? Not that many. Statistics is all in the context.

  • Reply palndan May 22, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    Never seen a shark, but I have shaken a few vending machines. I also not lightly to get eaten by a polar bear, and someone doing science on the tundra is unlikely to get crushed by a vending machine, eaten by a shark or crushed by a falling tree. Statistics are often used in stupid ways.

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