It's not often that Tara Reid teaches me something I didn't know, but in a shocking twist of fate, her appearance on Shark After Dark two nights ago really made me think. There she was, blathering on about how whale sharks were the offspring of a whale and shark getting it on, but, like a thunderbolt from the sky, her words awoke me from the prejudiced reverie I had been in since Shark Week's beginning. It made me question the very fabric of the week I loved most, driving me to look back upon programs past with a critical and discerning eye. Because, other than a momentary viewing during a rerun Wednesday, there has not been a single thing about whale sharks in the last five days. Whale sharks haven't been mentioned in one program. And why not?
Whale sharks could have been the unsung heroes of this maligned Shark Week, because they haven't gotten the press that Great Whites always have. But they're fucking awesome. But Shark Week is focused solely on the types of sharks that bite and thrash and sneak up from underneath us to bite off our extremities, perhaps because that's what the public wants to see, but perhaps because no one even knows what they're missing when Shark Week passes on whale sharks.
But since you might not know a lot about whale sharks (thanks for NOTHING Discovery Channel), let me entice you with a few key facts.
1) They are filter feeders, generally munching on plankton and other microscopic noms. This means they aren't going to take a cheeky chunk out of your leg by accident. Their feeding face looks kinda similar to the face you might make if you found out that Beyoncé was, in fact, a man.
2) They are, on average, around 30 feet but can grow up to 50 feet. So just imagine a monstrous catfish-lookin' spotty shark floating around with you in the water making that hilarious face pictured above. Could anything be better?
3) They're super friendly to divers. As extremely docile fish, you can even grab onto their dorsal fins and hop a ride, although that probably wouldn't feel too awesome for the whale shark. However, younger whale sharks have been known to play with divers, which sounds so cute I'm melting a little even thinking about it.
So, for all of the above reasons, whale sharks are just as deserving of screen time. They're adorable, gentle, probably a lot easier to get footage of and they're a hell of a lot better behaved than their serrated toothed counterparts. So Discovery Channel should cut back on the speculative mockumentaries and up their game on the whale shark front. Hell, I bet the Shark Week stoners would appreciate a calm hour of footage featuring whale sharks, floating from place to place eating plankton and being awesome. Let's make this happen.