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Sharkfest returns, with Nat Geo diving into its annual marathon of shark-related specials

For more than two decades, Discovery has lured television viewers into the deep with its annual Shark Week programming. National Geographic couldn’t help but take note, and in 2015 launched its own version, dubbing it Sharkfest.

Yes, it was a blatant ripoff, something that comedian Rory Scovel joked about in a promo clip for the inaugural Sharkfest. “We’re not that other week of Shark TV,” Scovel quipped in the spot. “We want you to confuse the two. And you will. And we don’t care — because it gets us ratings. It’s the same friggin’ sharks anyway. Sharks cannot sign an exclusive contract with a network . . . we’re pretty certain on that.”

Photo captions: Sharkfest on National Geographic. Pictured: Return of the White Shark key art.
National Geographic

Sharkfest returns this Sunday, kicking off with Return of the White Shark, airing 4 p.m. The special, first aired in 2023, examines why a record number of great white sharks have been migrating to Cape Cod, one of New England’s most popular tourist destinations, where they’ve been hunting in ways never documented before. To understand why the sharks continue to migrate there, and what this means for Cape Cod and the people who both live and vacation there, a team of scientists has been studying this growing phenomenon to try and keep people safe. The question at hand, however, is whether the sharks are changing the natural ecosystem, or restoring it?

Photo captions: Sharkfest on National Geographic. Pictured: Shark Gone Viral key art.
National Geographic

This is followed by World’s Biggest Bull Shark: Thousand Pound Queen at 5 p.m., a 2021 special. Marine ecologist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag teamed up with former Royal Marine commando James Glancy and evolutionary biologist Dr. Toby Daly-Engel to uncover how Big Bull, one of the largest Bull Sharks ever caught, grew to become a giant. Meanwhile, they also embarked on a mission to find out whether there could more bull sharks of a similar size.

Photo captions: Sharkfest on National Geographic. Pictured: Ross Edgley.
National Geographic

Next up is Shark Beach with Anthony Mackie at 6 p.m. (and repeating at 9 p.m.), a brand-new special featuring the Captain America star and New Orleans native (you can check out more info on page 17 of this issue).

Photo captions: Sharkfest on National Geographic. Pictured: Baby Sharks in the City key art.
National Geographic

It all wraps up with Shark vs. Ross Edgley, airing at 7 p.m. and again at 10 p.m., in which ultra-athlete swimmer, world record-holder and shark advocate Ross Edgley attempts to pit his mind and body against four of the most formidable sharks in the ocean: the mako, tiger, hammerhead and great white shark. After an inspirational encounter with a shark on his swim around Great Britain. Edgley tests his body in four challenges to see who can eat more, turn on a dime, leap higher out of the water, and swim the fastest to see just how shark-like he can become.

Sharkfest, airing Sunday, June 30, on National Geographic

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