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Shark Week is coming. Here's what you need to know

'Tis the season for sunny days, summer showers and a full week dedicated to everyone's favorite cartilaginous fish: sharks.

For the past 28 years, the Discovery Channel has hosted Shark Week, an annual celebration of sharks which has grown into a worldwide event. It showcases sharks, their abilities, their ferocity and their importance in every environment they inhabit.

On social media, it's is a chance for fin-lovers to show off their love of sharks, encourage others to participate in Shark Week and raise awareness of shark plights.

Shark Week starts Sunday and runs through July 3 with daily features on the Discovery Channel, local aquarium activities and themed parties around Tampa Bay.

Why celebrate sharks? Why not Puppy Week?

Thanks to overfishing, sharks are one of the most threatened species on the planet. For almost three decades, Discovery Channel has spent eight days talking about sharks and their roles in the ocean. But it's hard for people to care about them when they're often portrayed as monsters (read: Jaws, Sharknado, The Shallows, every shark movie ever).

Besides indulging in features like Deadliest Shark and Sharks vs. Dolphins: Face Off, be sure to include scientists and critics on your must-read list. Scientists love-hate Shark Week like journalists love-hate The Newsroom.

Shark biologist and conservationist David Shiffman's @WhySharksMatter Twitter account provides critical commentary like, "Sharks bend hooks all the time. It doesn't make them mythical Hitler sharks," and, "Some great whites don't eat for several days after a big meal, like me after a trip to Golden Corral."

This year, he's writing episode reviews, live fact-checking and prompting his followers to "live every week like it's Shark Week."

As for Puppy Week, every week is Puppy Week for us. We'd be more interested in a Sloth Week, especially after this fascinating look at sloth pooping by the Washington Post.

Where can I see local sharks?

The Florida Aquarium: The aquarium in Tampa celebrates sharks and marine life year-round, but during Shark Week, it shows off sharks with interactive activities. Guests can mimic shark senses, compare themselves to some of the world's biggest sharks, enjoy shark trivia and participate in a shark-themed scavenger hunt. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. flaquarium.org

Mote Marine Aquarium: Though not during the official Shark Week, Shark Days at Mote dives into the science behind sharks and their environments with a week of activities August 15-20. The aquarium in Sarasota hosts a screening of Jaws, "Sharks & Crafts" and a family festival. mote.org.

I REALLY love sharks

Shark-Con, July 9-10: The annual convention dedicated to sharks and ocean conservation is back with educational booths and activities from The Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and other conservation partners. Also, expect a 22-foot shark slide and octopus bounce house.

Coming to the Florida State Fairgrounds, Shark-Con has activities for ocean-loving kids and adults with guest speakers like Chris Fischer with OCEARCH and Wendy Benchley, well-known ocean conservationist and wife of Peter Benchley, author of Jaws.

Founder of Eckerd College's Shark Conservation Center Club, Dylan Faulkner, is attending Shark-Con with his team to "provide higher education to the public about sharks and to hopefully rid the public of its fear of sharks."

Faulkner and his club often work with the community and local students in bringing awareness to the importance of a shark-filled ecosystem and the devastating effects of shark fin hunting.

"We want the community to understand and be able to work with and live with sharks," Faulkner said. "We want to change the perception of sharks as demonized creatures."

What are the must-watch shows?

Tiger Beach, 8 p.m. Sunday

Great white sharks take a back seat in the first feature of Shark Week. In Tiger Beach, tiger shark expert Neil Hammerschlag tags and follows 40 sharks to find where they mate, where females gestate and where they give birth. The show focuses on Tiger Beach in the Bahamas.

Sharks Among Us, 10 p.m. Monday

Shark encounters keep increasing around the world. Sharks Among Us explores the controversial solutions to dealing with a growing fear of sharks, including culling, nets and drumlins, which all kill sharks. The show also features Craig O'Connell, who believes he's developed a way for sharks and humans to coexist safely.

Air Jaws: Night Stalker, 10 p.m. Tuesday

For his 8th Air Jaws adventure, shark photographer Chris Fallows joins shark expert Jeff Kurr and Hammerschlag as they document how sharks hunt in total darkness. Bonus: the program is narrated by Game of Thrones' Lena Headey.

Shark After Dark, 11 p.m. every night

For the second year, director, producer and actor Eli Roth hosts the late-night talk show recapping Shark Week programs.

For a full schedule of Shark Week, visit discovery.com.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at ctatham@tampabay.com. Follow @chelseatatham.

Shark Week is coming. Here's what you need to know 06/22/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 2:32pm]
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