Discovery channel's "Shark Week" has been entertaining and educating audiences for over 27 years, while this year, many didn't find the programme to be as it was - and for not the right reasons- their ratings have reached an all time high, reports CNN.
As "Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine" pulled in more than 3.8 million viewers and "Air Jaws: Fin of Fury" nabbed almost 3.3 million viewers, many in the scientific community are irked by the channel's sensationalism tactics and are saying that fictional stories are being fed to the viewers as facts.
Many scientists have been outspoken on the social media that programmes such as "Shark Week" are supposed to be educational and their lack of responsibility results in the blurring of the line between facts and fantasy programming.
They also claim that their words or research are distorted by the Discovery Channel to appeal to viewers by sensationalizing and twisting facts, reported The Verge. Some also publically declared their decision not to work with the channel again.
"Megalodon was a monster prehistoric shark that grew over 60 feet in length and fed on whales. Thank goodness it's extinct... or is it?" is the post on Discovery's website about the extinct shark.
David Shiffman, a marine biologist studying shark feeding ecology and conservation, says in his blog on Slate, "If a 50-foot-long predator that fed on surface animals and lived in coastal environments were still around, someone would have found evidence of this by now."
He goes on to say that the documentary that featured this giant sharks featured "actors playing as scientists, photoshopped pictures, and fake digital video". However, at no point during the documentary was it mentioned that the story was fictional, causing many viewers to believe in the existence of Megalodon.
Shiffman says, "As a marine biologist interested in outreach, I speak to hundreds of high school students each year...Not once since The Monster Shark Lives aired have I spoken to a group of children and not been asked about Megalodon."
"I can make up random science words to support nonsense too. T Rex is still alive because optimal quantum taco. #megalodon #sharkweek" posted Shiffman on Twitter.
"Watching #sharkweek right now this whole Megalodon thing is so fake... Get it together Discovery channel," posted singer/songwriter Austin Mahone.
"OMG this #megalodon on #SharkWeek is SO fake lmao. Get some better special effects if you actually want people to believe this ," Katie Friberg posted.
"What @discovery is doing, by airing fake #Megalodon documentaries while planting doubt re: scientific process, should be illegal #sharkweek," says Wildlife Ecologist David Steen, PHD
This is not all; scientists claim that "Shark Submarine" on Sunday night is actually a fictional story that was created by journalists in the 1970s.
Michelle Wcisel, a Zoologist specialized in predator/prey behaviour explains in Southern Fried Science that these journalists were conducting a social experiment to demonstrate how easily readers can be fooled and made up a story about a large white shark in South Africa's False Bay. She says that it "literally broke my heart to watch" the myth being propagated as fact onscreen in 2014.
As the ratings clearly continue to soar, it is highly unlikely that Discovery will change their strategy. However, being the most awaited annual summer event even now, #sharkWeek trended on the Internet along with many other related tags. The comments that went with the tags weren't very nice though.
"Discovery has shown such commitment to integrity - - again - - with #SharkWeek, they should do #BigfootWeek next year," actor and writer Will Wheaton posted.
"Shark week has seriously gone down hill #nomoremockumentaries," says auto racing driver and The Bachelorette cast member Arie Luyendyk Jr.
"Okay @Discovery I've had enough of this docufiction. I watch #sharkweek to learn, not to be entertained by Sharknado quality programs," posted Joe Breen.
"#sharkweek is turning out terrible. NatGeo shark fest is winning. The main reason is that Star Wars is more believable than your Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine. Everyone that has graduated kindergarten can tell it is fake. #epicfail" posted Frankie Gray on Shark Week's FaceBook page.