Discovery Channel: Jumped the shark long ago, now just despicable (Update: More despicableness)

Once again, Discovery Channel shows they are not science-based and will even pull unethical stunts to get ratings.

Nonfiction? Get a dictionary, morons.

Nonfiction? Get a dictionary, morons.


We posted the link in the leftovers of 16-July to the story in Canada’s National Post about a video that purportedly showed a bull shark spotted in Lake Ontario.

The best answer at the time was that it was a porpoise although a bull shark swimming up a freshwater river is NOT unheard of. That’s what made it potentially plausible although experts doubted it.

That story has now been replaced by this piece, announcing it was a hoax by a media company promoting Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Kathleen Wynne warns against marketing stunts that scare people after Bell’s Lake Ontario ‘shark’ hoax | National Post.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is expressing concern about a marketing stunt that had people thinking a shark may be lurking in Lake Ontario.

A YouTube video purporting to show three men surprised by a shark while fishing off a dock was posted a week ago, but it was only on Wednesday that Bell Media revealed it fabricated the video to build hype for the Discovery channel’s upcoming Shark Week programming.

Real or not, the video had some in Wolfe Island, Ont., afraid of swimming and also prompted Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Bill Mauro to warn that people should stay safe and report any sightings of the animal.

Actually, some people still doubt it was a hoax. They suggest it is real and the “hoax” story is a coverup to preserve the tourism inflow. Bell Media put out a press release with the announcement after noticing how many took this as real. (Duh! WASN’T THAT THE GOAL?)

Discovery wants to quell the concerns of Canadians everywhere and reveal that the widely-circulated video of a shark swimming in Lake Ontario is, in fact, not a real shark. The video of the incredibly life-like prosthetic model shark is the first stage of a multi-level marketing campaign tied to the channel’s iconic summer event, SHARK WEEK.

Discovery, YOU SUCK.

The deliberate misinformation caused actual panic. How low can you go to erode all trust in your programming? First the Mermaids and Megalodon where you manufactured footage and suggested it was real? Now you put out a public scare?

This ill-conceived campaign was developed for Nissan by Bell Media’s Brand Partnership team and in collaboration with Nissan’s marketing partners, OMD and TBWA. (Note: This is not the first time Nissan and TBWA have gotten into hot water due to deceptive advertising.)

Fake shark used in Discovery media hoax in Lake Ontario

Fake shark used in Discovery media hoax in Lake Ontario

Dubbed “In Search of Canada’s Rogue Shark,” it covers the rugged Canadian terrain – in a Nissan Rogue, of course — from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the Bay of Fundy to the St. Lawrence – and even the Great Lakes – to understand these amazing fish and create awareness for the Canadian shark population…if it does indeed exist here.

As far as we know, this is more nonsense speculation. There is no evidence to support it. Also notice the press release is light on apology, heavy on promotion.

Check out this piece on Science Sushi on how Discovery and Shark Week have degraded in quality over the years to the point of being ridiculous:

Fraud, Deception And Lies: How Discovery’s Shark Week Became The Greatest Show On Earth – Science Sushi |

Though Discovery might think the publicity was worth a little distress, feelings of fear and anxiety are real harm to the community that felt them, says Stemwedel, and says a lot about the kind of relationship Discovery has with its viewership. “They didn’t just lie about the shark, but also about how much their viewers could trust them.”

So why would they create such a video in the first place? University of Miami shark scientist David Shiffman has an answer. “Shark Week seems to believe that real stories about real animals aren’t enough to get the public’s attention, so they lied,” he said. “I wish this surprised me.”

Not only does Discovery fail to provide factual information, they are bent on inserting harmful MISINFORMATION into the mainstream, actually sabotaging the initial intent of shark week programming – to inform and help reduce the stigma around sharks.

Quite the bang up job you’ve done, making people think giant killing machine sharks are everywhere.
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.43.36 PM

Many no longer watch the Discovery Network Channels – Discovery (and the like), Science Channel, Animal Planet. If you won’t either, tell them. Many scientists are speaking out that they will refuse to work with the network.

Nature is not a joke but Discovery Channels are.



Unbelievable crap:

  • Sharkageddon
  • Lair of the Mega Shark
  • Zombie Sharks
  • Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss
  • Monster Hammerhead
  • Spawn of Jaws 2: The Birth
  • Great White Matrix
  • Air Jaws: Fins of Fury
  • Jaws Strikes Back
  • I Escaped Jaws 2
  • Shark of Darkness: Submarine Returns
  • Megalodon: The New Evidence

It’s like a horror movie extravaganza!!! Actually, the titles are what is mostly effed up since the descriptions sound like they have actual researchers trying to do some work. I wonder who these experts are now that many have said they won’t work with Discovery. Also, new evidence for Megalodon? You didn’t have old evidence. The “evidence” was manufactured last time.

Boycott shark week. Shark experts are.

No Honey, there are no sharks in Ontario Lakes | Deep Sea News.

The network that cried, “(Fake) Shark!”.

UPDATE: (10-Aug-2014) ANOTHER ONE? Wildlife Extra News – Great white shark spotted in north London boating lake. Man, they just can’t get anymore low class and stupid.


Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine is a fake documentary | Southern Fried Science.

Can Discovery redeem themselves or are they happy to be considered crud in the ocean of television these days?

  24 comments for “Discovery Channel: Jumped the shark long ago, now just despicable (Update: More despicableness)

  1. Todd
    July 18, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    The Discovery channel should just combine all their gimmicks into one show and have a fresh water megalodon mermaid that investigates haunted crab boats while riding a custom built chopper. They could save a lot of production costs that way.

  2. Tom
    July 18, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    When the media companies pulls this kind of stunt it usually means that they may be facing the axe and are desperate to improve their ratings.

  3. Gary M
    July 18, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Meanwhile there are those looking for the real thing (Greenland Sharks) in the St. Lawrence River: Not as “scary” but real.

  4. spookyparadigm
    July 18, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Destroy your television and use the internet to get useful information and not car commercials.

  5. terry the censor
    July 18, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    Reading comments of the original YouTube video, I was surprised to see several people assert that sharks in the Great Lakes had already been established, therefore, expressing doubt about the video was kind of ignorant.

  6. Jason
    July 18, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    Thank you, Discovery Networks. Over the last decade you’ve managed to resurrect Megalodon and render your integrity and credibility extinct through sensationalism and deception. {Ed. Removed some graphic content :-P}

    Hey Todd, I like your idea but after building the custom bike, have Fresh-Water MM then lend help to Lebanon Levi and the Amish mafia before joining the Laughing devils to help take out the SinMob

  7. Douglas
    July 18, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Television has become a wasteland of sensationalism. Comedy Central gives me better news than CNN and better history than the History channel

  8. Stacy
    July 19, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    Yes, I would like to thank Discovery Channel as well….I am an 8th grade science teacher – I assigned a project and my rubric actually said, “No mermaids, because they are not real.” My students informed me that I was wrong because they saw the footage on the Discovery Channel. That’s right folks 14 year olds believe mermaids are real and alive living in the oceans right now because of the mermaid show….the most common reason I received, “they had real scientists in the show.” How can I expect my students to see scientists as role models when you lie about the people on your shows? I also get to debate Bigfoot as well. I teach in a district with over 60,000 students….if my 150 believe in mermaids and Bigfoot imagine how many other students do too. This is a real problem!

  9. AHardaker
    July 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Heaven forbid people actually THINK. Everyonevrelies to much on being “told.” Learn truths by your own learning and common sense. I find the hoaxes nothing more than entertainment. Dont believe everything you hear and read.

  10. Headless Unicorn Guy
    July 19, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    And for whatever reason they can’t Go PORN.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy
    July 19, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    And less CONSPIRACY(TM).

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy
    July 19, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    I think I saw that “mermaids” show once when I was on a weekend getaway at Lone Pine and flipping channels trying to find the Weather Channel.

    Struck me as halfway-decent “What-If?” speculative fiction in a Mockumentary format, but they had to put in a LOT of Vast Military-Gubmint CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY for tension & conflict. P

    The problem was, they presented it as FACT with a large dose of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory. (Why don’t other scientists than the actors in the show corroborate? THEY’re part of The Conspiracy. Why no other evidence? The Conspiracy is so Vast They Can Silence Anyone.)

    Result? A 21st Century version of The Great Moon Hoax and similar 19th Century media hoaxes to boost circulation/ratings.

    “Just because you saw it on TV doesn’t mean it’s real!”
    — Joey Skaggs, famous media hoaxter

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy
    July 19, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    P.S. I remember when SciFi Channel (after screening one of the best adaptations of Dune) changed their spelling to the trendy “SyFy” and went “All the Occult, All the Time.” Reason given?

    They were ditching the “geeks in mommy’s basements” demographic and going after the much larger “bored housewives” one. (Same audience as Harlequin Romance and 50 Shades of Grey.) And (reported as their words) “bored housewives really dig The Occult.”

  14. spookyparadigm
    July 19, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    If they had been openly honest about the nature of the show, it would have been an interesting piece of science fiction, though relying on the problematic aquatic ape hypothesis cancels out any of the other “drawn from science” elements.

    Sadly, I think our angry reactions are exactly what the marketers want. Their immediate bread and butter is not coming from critical or knowledgeable people, it’s coming from uncritical people, and I think increasingly, from children. Most of the testimonials IRL or on twitter I’ve seen of people being interested or believing in their mermaids show were young people. They’re banking on “eggheads” and the “reality based community” to get angry about this, giving them the an air of intrigue and conspiracy, and drawing more uncritical eyes. I’ve seen the argument that Ancient Aliens on History works so well because it is so poorly made, it drives away critical people (who also aren’t going to be the prime target for the marketers who are the real client of television). That’s why I was so amazed to recently find out a former archaeologist actually does work at Ancient Aliens, using her education for, well, I guess I won’t call it evil, but for something.

    Sure, they’re destroying the Discovery Channel brand that used to be the entertainment columnist’s darling as it wasn’t completely stupid. But really, why would they care? History Channel’s numbers have gone up since they went stupid, and I have to assume the people at Discovery and Animal Planet want the same to happen.

  15. spookyparadigm
    July 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Did the channel become more profitable?

  16. Artor
    July 19, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    Does it have a giant bushy beard, and maybe a tutu & tiara?

  17. Graham
    July 20, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    Doesn’t the Discovery Channel bankroll the Sea Shepherds? They (Meaning the Sea Shepherds) better start rethinking their association.

    After all if people start thinking that activists are basing their decisions on what generates viewer gathering action footage rather than effective activism…

  18. Jim
    July 20, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    I always get a kick out of the “River Monsters” guy………they spend an hour building up the drama like he is ready to catch some giant prehistoric sea monster…….and at the end of the show he has 3 catfish and a bass

  19. TheWhitefire
    July 21, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Hey. Don’t diss Jeremy Wade. That guy is hardcore. Them’s catfish are evil.

    Also, It’s 3 Catfish and a Bullshark, with a smattering of Stingrays and pirannah. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen him pull up a bass.

  20. Karl
    July 21, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Though I’m kind of thrilled they cited my flame tweet to Bell Media. It sure would be nice if Bell, instead of just saying “ha ha sorry not sorry” they showed some contrition and kicked a % of the fair value publicity they got to something like the Great Lakes institute at the University of Windsor and further the eduction of the true biology of the Great Lakes. Although I guess that’s like saying I hope Scalia votes in favor of same sex marriage.

    These idiots also failed to appreciate kids are not going to see their retraction and have probably been left scared witless by a youtube video they probably passed around among friends. It’s almost as if the idiots who made this were born AFTER Jaws and have no clue the real fear and possibly panic something like this can cause.

  21. Bill
    July 24, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    Add the History Channel and TLC to my list as well. There was a time I especially enjoyed History, up until around “Ancient Aliens”. I haven’t watched them in years.

  22. Ben Radford
    August 10, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    To be fair, The Discovery Channel (which I have often criticized, for reasons mentioned above) is only one branch of the Discovery Communications network of media, which includes Discovery News, which I contribute science and skeptical articles and pieces to. The sensationalist stuff on the TV network rarely if ever makes it onto the science media sites.

  23. August 10, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    It’s so disappointing to hear about all this (I rarely WATCH these things – for one thing, I refuse to pay for cable/dish/whatever TV), especially after about 12 years ago when I saw a documentary (STR on the Science Channel) on the ESO’s huge VLT telescope array – building it, running it, etc. I was at a friend’s house who had cable, and I very much enjoyed it. In retrospect, I don’t know if that was done by the Discovery company, or if it was just “purchased content.” I don’t see this documentary on Youtube offhand, but as I type this I’m watching one of several other videos about the VLT.

    I shouldn’t say this (famous last words, as if introducing & apologizing for saying a very un-PC joke…), but here’s a suggestion Discovery’s Teh Next Big Show: “The Real Truth About Sharknadoes.”

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