Nat Geo’s “SharkFest” is turning 10 and marking the occasion by enlisting sister Disney brands ABC, ESPN and Hulu to help air its largest programming slate ever across the most platforms it has ever been on, Variety has learned exclusively.
While “SharkFest” aired during a six-week period last year, making the 2021 edition the longest “SharkFest” ever, that lineup was limited to Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, Disney XD and Disney+.
This time around, Nat Geo is putting out nearly 30 hours of new content and 60 hours of “enhanced” programming over four weeks beginning July 10, its most-packed “SharkFest” schedule on record. And that increased content load is spread out not just across Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, Disney XD and Disney+, but also broadcast network ABC, cabler ESPN and streamer Hulu, making it an historic occasion for the decade-old fin-tastic event.
Additionally, every “SharkFest” premiere will be available to stream on Disney+ as they make their initial debuts on other platforms.
“This year’s lineup offers a treasure trove of new original content that dives into details on over 15 different shark species and features footage from all over the world, including the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Australia, Hawaii, South Africa, the Maldives, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida and more,” per Nat Geo.
Nat Geo’s new partner for this year’s “SharkFest” is Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), which is meant to “encourage diversity and inclusion in the shark sciences field and inspire the next generation of scientists.”
Per Nat Geo, “This collaboration lends MISS experts — such as Candace Fields, a Ph.D. student studying the population dynamics and geographic population structure of large predators; Carlee Jackson, marine biologist, sea turtle conservationist and shark expert; and Jasmin Graham, who specializes in elasmobranch ecology and evolution — as on-screen talent for this year’s ‘SharkFest’ as well as consultants for programming and development of shows.”
Featured “shark experts” for “SharkFest” 2022 include:
*Candace Fields, a Ph.D. student studying the population dynamics and geographic population structure of large predators
*Carlee Jackson, a marine biologist, sea turtle conservationist and shark expert who is championing diversity in the world of science
*Jasmin Graham specializes in elasmobranch ecology and evolution. She is the project coordinator for the MarSci-LACE project, which is focused on researching and promoting best practices to recruit, support and retain minority students in marine science
*Alison Towner is a senior white shark biologist and Ph.D. student examining driving factors of movement in white sharks
Gibbs Kuguru, a Kenyan shark scientist who works with great whites and studies the DNA of sharks
*Dr. Mike Heithaus, the executive dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education (CASE) and professor in the department of biological sciences at Florida International University (FIU)
*Sara Casareto, a graduate student at Florida International University, working on her doctorate focusing on shark biology and behavior
*Melissa Cristina Marquez, a Puerto Rican marine biologist and science communicator studying chondrichthyan fishes, such as great white sharks
*Ryan Johnson, a marine biologist and world-famous documentary host
See highlights from this year’s “SharkFest” schedule below, courtesy of Nat Geo. Dates are subject to change.
National Geographic — Premieres July 10 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 1 at 9/8c
Disney XD — July 16 at 10/9c
Can sharks change color at will to enhance their predatory abilities? Through groundbreaking experiments, revered shark biologists answer this evolutionary question. Shark scientists Dr. Ryan Johnson and Ph.D. candidate Gibbs Kuguru hope to capture real-time pigmentation changes to understand how these apex ocean predators manipulate their skin’s dermal cells to activate camouflage.
BACKYARD BULL SHARKS
National Geographic — Premieres July 10 at 11/10c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 6 at 6/5c
Bull sharks are invading in a big way. Their bullish behavior in oceans worldwide has made them famous from coast to coast. The seven seas aren’t enough; they’re taking over brackish waters and rivers too! Warmer waters due to climate change mean bull sharks can expand their range even further … so the more we learn about them now, the better.
SHARKS VS. THE WORLD
National Geographic — Premieres July 11 at 7/6c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 5 at 10/9c
Ever feel like the world is working against you? Try being a shark! These predators of the deep have some serious beef with just about everyone. Whales, tuna, surfers, swimmers, they’re at odds with them all. In face-off after face-off, sharks prove they are the ULTIMATE survivors.
WHEN SHARKS ATTACK (Six-Episode Series)
National Geographic — Premieres July 11 at 8/7c, with new episodes each night
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 1 at 7/6c
Shark attacks seem to be on the rise in North America and beyond! But what’s causing the alarming uptick in human and shark encounters? Scientists investigate first-hand accounts, uncovering clues and details that will unravel the mystery behind the terrifying shark attack spike. The answers will impact beachgoers around the globe.
National Geographic — Premieres July 11 at 9/8c
Disney XD — July 16 at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 2 at 9/8c
If you go down to the beach today, you could get a big surprise! Drones are revolutionizing everything that we thought we knew about sharks. And the biggest surprise? That many sharks live closer to our shores than we might like to imagine. It’s time to look behind you; the ocean’s top predator could be much closer than you think!
GAME OF SHARKS
ESPN — Premieres July 11 at 9/8c
National Geographic — July 15 at 10/9c
It’s time for sharks to face off in the ultimate species competition with the greatest matchups the ocean has ever seen. In ten nail-biting competitions, we’ll prove once and for all which shark is the MVP of the open sea. The great white is favored, but can it beat the shortfin mako in the 100-meter dash? Or out-jump the thresher shark? Can it keep up with the appetite of the whale shark? An underdog might just swim into first place!
MAUI SHARK MYSTERY
National Geographic — Premieres July 11 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 17 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 2 at 10/9c
Every year tiger sharks gather in big numbers in Maui. What’s the cause? It’s a mystery that’s a decade in the making. Now, a team of fearless shark scientists gets hands-on with one of the ocean’s largest predators to find out. That means free diving, face-to-face and unprotected. But these young women will do whatever it takes to get the data they need to crack the case.
GREAT WHITE VS. TIGER SHARK
ESPN — Premieres July 11 at 10/9c
National Geographic — July 17 at 7/6c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 5 at 8/7c
Disney XD — July 31 at 9/8c
The two biggest of the BIG THREE — great whites and tiger sharks — are two of the most dangerous predators in the ocean. And they get BIG, up to 20 feet and 18 feet, respectively. But can they grow even larger than that? Where can we find the world’s biggest? Two teams of scientists are diving in to uncover the secrets of these powerful and majestic creatures.
National Geographic — Premieres July 12 at 9/8c
Disney XD — July 31 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 3 at 9/8c
Shark encounters off the coast of California are skyrocketing. Now, a team of researchers is on a mission to investigate a newly discovered white shark hot spot close to popular beaches and determine how many great whites are out there. Their expedition will bring them face-to-face with some of the biggest sharks on the planet.
National Geographic — Premieres July 12, at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 17, at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 1, at 10/9c
Two teams of experts go to extraordinary lengths to take shark science into the wild as they investigate two of the most iconic shark superpowers: speed and bite force. In California, the race is on as Andy Casagrande attempts to reveal the top speed of the world’s fastest shark. And in the Bahamas, Brocq Maxey gets much closer than most to investigate the power in a shark’s bite.
National Geographic — Premieres July 13, at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 4, at 9/8c
In the animal kingdom, males are often presumed to be the most dominant. But in the ocean, does this presumption hold water? Scientists search for answers to understand if the biggest and baddest sharks of them all are female. From the great white sharks of South Africa to the tiger sharks in the Maldives, the team seeks to uncover the ultimate rulers of the waves.
National Geographic — Premieres July 13 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 24 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 7 at 8/7c
Even the biggest, fastest and fiercest predators start as babies. Baby sharks are cute, but they need to grow up fast because out of more than 500 species of sharks, not one parent sticks around to help raise them. Sharks are found in every ocean across the planet and have evolved in extraordinarily different ways to carry their young and give birth and for baby sharks to thrive.
SHARK BEACH WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH — 2021 Marquis Special
ABC — Network Premiere July 13 at 8/7c
National Geographic — July 21 at 10/9c
Chris Hemsworth is on a mission to uncover the science of shark behavior and discover how humans and sharks can safely coexist. After an increase in local shark attacks along the east coast of Australia, Hemsworth seeks to understand different species of sharks and their behaviors while also exploring new preventative measures and the latest technology to help stave off shark-human encounters. The special from Nutopia (“One Strange Rock”) also features underwater conservationist and legend Valerie Taylor.
CROC THAT ATE JAWS ENHANCED
National Geographic — Premieres July 14 at 7/6c
National Geographic — July 14 at 7/6c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 4 at 8/7c
Around the world, crocs and gators are moving out to sea and deep into shark territory. With reports of clashes on the rise, scientists are sending cameras to investigate what happens when two of the deadliest predators on the planet match bites! Biologist and host Mike Heithaus investigates whether these predators are facing off more often than we realize and who comes out on top when they do.
SHARK SIDE OF THE MOON
National Geographic — Premieres July 14 at 9/8c
Disney XD — July 30, at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 5, at 6/5c
The moon has an impact on animal species around the globe, but there’s never been a connection drawn between the lunar cycle and sharks. One scientist thinks the moon plays an important role in the migration and life cycle of the scalloped hammerhead, and he’s on a mission to see if his hypothesis is true. If there’s a tie between the hammerhead shark and the moon, there could be a tie with other shark species as well … with a profound impact on both shark science and conservation.
SHARKS THAT EAT EVERYTHING
National Geographic — Premieres July 14, at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 4, at 10/9c
Dive into the jaw-dropping stories of anyone and anything that’s found themselves prey to the deadliest, toothiest terrors of the sea. The boundless hunger and curiosity of sharks can lead them to chow down on the most unexpected things, such as big game like hippos and crocs or inanimate objects like kayaks, cages and chicken coops.
PLANET SHARK (Three-Episode Series)
National Geographic — Premieres July 16 at 8/7c
Sharks are one of the oldest and most successful hunters to have ever lived. With more than 500 species, sharks dominate every corner of the ocean. What is it about these extraordinary animals that make them so successful? For the first time, scientists are unlocking the secrets of sharks. Featuring newly discovered species, locations and behavior, PLANET SHARK combines stunning 4K archive footage with original content from the world’s leading shark scientists to take a timely and in-depth look at the greatest predator on Earth.
JAWS VS. BOATS
National Geographic — Premieres July 17 at 8/7c
Disney XD — July 23 at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 5 at 9/8c
All across YouTube, viral videos abound of great whites and other sharks attacking boats with a ferocity and anger that has never been seen before. The question is, why? Is this simply a case of more people having cameras to video the behavior, or is something else happening? Dr. Mike Heithaus and Ph.D. candidate Sara Casareto set out to investigate what’s causing this clash between sharks and boats.
SHARK ATTACK FILES (Eight-Episode Series)
National Geographic — Premieres July 18 with two episodes at 8/7c and 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 7 at 6/5c
Scientists use cutting-edge technology to investigate startling new theories about the world’s most dramatic shark attacks. Why are sharks drawn to shipwrecks? Are sharks entering urban environments? Are pregnant sharks more likely to kill? Can humans outsmart sharks? Why do sharks prefer to attack men? New footage, survivor accounts and hands-on testing drive us toward stunning conclusions.
WORLD’S BIGGEST HAMMERHEAD?
National Geographic — Premieres July 18 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 24 at 9/8c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 3 at 10/9c
Numerous reports of giant great hammerhead sharks, up to twenty feet in length, have put the actual size potential of this species into question. A team of scientists from Florida International University is now on an expedition off the Florida coast to try and find the world’s biggest hammerhead, taking them from the numerous bridges of the Florida Keys to the sharky waters of the Bahamas.
National Geographic — Premieres July 19 at 10/9c
Disney XD — July 30 at 10/9c
Nat Geo WILD — Aug. 6 at 7/6c
Big and dangerous predators are invading unexpected waters, from golf courses and swimming pools to lakes and backyard keys. Through analyzing user-generated footage, shark experts get to the bottom of how and why sharks seem more willing than ever to meet us on our own turf. In a bizarre twist, people encountering sharks in unexpected places are called to urgent action.