With the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" full swing, fans have been tuning in for a variety of shows about some of the most fascinating of marine animals. A specific documentary about a giant, violent great white shark that captivated viewers earlier this week turned out to be one big farce, which means that the cable channel fooled and infuriated many of its fans again with yet another Shark Week "mockumentary."
Last year, fans were fuming over a fake documentary about megalodon, an extinct shark species related to the modern great white. That two-hour special seemed to present evidence that the massive shark still loomed in the ocean and many believed some of the story that was presented. The channel did run a disclaimer about the "dramatized" nature of some of the show. After learning some of it was faked, some fans vowed to boycott the Discovery Channel.
Despite this backlash, the popular channel was at it again this year with "Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine." The fake documentary included some of the history about the legendary shark, rumored to be up to 30 feet long, and also seemed to show footage, which was fake, of a boat sinking earlier this year in False Bay off the coast South Africa where the shark nicknamed "Submarine" for its size was said to have been seen before.
This screenshot from the mockumentary was supposed to show footage of the sinking of a boat in False Bay off the coast of South Africa earlier this year. The show portrayed it as an area where the legendary shark Submarine struck. (Image source: Discovery)
Here are a couple of clips from the controversial Shark Week special:
TheBlaze's own managing editor Jon Seidl was duped by the show, which he tuned into about 30 minutes after it started. Seidl said he had his wife watch the show and was singing its praises to his friends, even posting about it on Twitter where he called it "movie material."
When he found out the next day it was fake, he was beyond upset … and he wasn't alone, with others taking to Facebook and Twitter to share their anger and confusion.
Here are just a few of the comments from a post Discovery wrote Sunday asking fans if they believed the "legend" of Submarine, the shark that the channel said has been the subject of stories since the 1970s.
In an emailed statement to TheBlaze, a Discovery spokesperson explained that "Submarine is a legendary shark first sighted off the coast of South Africa in 1970." With 95 percent of the ocean still unexplored, "legends have sprung up over the many sightings of giant sea creatures," the statement continued.
"Submarine's existence is highly controversial and 'Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine' explores this legend. Events have been dramatized but many believe Submarine exists to this day," the spokesperson wrote, noting to TheBlaze that the show had a disclaimer about its dramatized nature posted twice.
To be fair, Discovery has also been open about the calling Submarine a "legend" in some of its other reporting on the possible shark. This clip from the channel describes how some of the sightings might have gotten their start:
According to the Smithsonian Institution, the average female great white shark ranges from 15 to 16 feet long, while males can reach 11 to 13 feet. If a shark like Submarine were to exist, it would be nearly double this size.
Smithsonian Museum Specialist David Bohaska, whose focus is on marine vertebrates, told TheBlaze that he thinks people get so upset at dramatized documentaries coming from a site like the Discovery Channel because its name itself, he said, "implies that it is scientifically accurate."
Front page image via Shutterstock.