Sharks, HRI Researchers are the Stars During Discovery’s Shark Week, Nat Geo’s Sharkfest

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – It’s that time of year again! Discovery’s annual Shark Week, and National Geographic’s SharkFest, are right around the corner.

This year, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) researchers will once again be featured in both Shark Week and SharkFest programming. This is the first time HRI has been featured in National Geographic’s annual SharkFest.

“Sharks are such great ambassadors for the ocean,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, Director for the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) and TAMU-CC Professor of Marine Biology and Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health. “They are a key that opens the door for scientific curiosity and learning. Most people are fascinated with sharks, and with the help of these charismatic animals, we have a great opportunity to teach children and adults about why healthy oceans are essential to the well-being of people and the planet.”

Stunz and CSSC Assistant Research Scientist, Dr. Kesley Banks, have appeared as experts in multiple shark-related programs for television and have frequently been highlighted for their work tagging and tracking sharks off the beaches and on artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Without sharks, our oceans are out of balance,” Banks said. “By understanding the importance of their ecological roles and conserving these apex predators, we are helping to ensure healthy oceans for future generations.”

Banks said that while there is still much work to be done, attitudes about sharks have drastically shifted toward conserving sharks rather than harvesting them, and this is a trend she hopes will continue.

“The work that Dr. Stunz and his group conduct on sharks and many other species is a model for conservation science,” said Dr. David Yoskowitz, HRI Senior Executive Director and Endowed Chair for Socio-Economics.

HRI researchers will be featured in the following TV shows this month:

  • SharkFest – “Stealth Hunters” part of “Shark Attack Files,” an eight-episode series. Watch Monday, July 18 at 8 p.m. CST on National Geographic.

“Stealth Hunters” features scientists who use cutting-edge technology to investigate theories about shark attacks.

  • Shark Week – “Monster Mako Under the Rig”

Watch Thursday, July 28 at 9 p.m. CST on Discovery and discovery+

This episode features a team of local researchers that have discovered a mysterious group of mako sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, residing in the waters off Port Aransas, Texas, migrating around Florida and up to Rhode Island. They call these makos Mavericks. Scientists at HRI are trying to discover what sets them apart from other makos. This show highlights some of the fascinating research taking place right here in the Texas Coastal Bend and at TAMU-CC.  

  • Shark Week – “Sharks! with Tracy Morgan”

Watch Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m. CST on Discovery and discovery+

Join HRI and other leading scientists as they team up with comic actor Tracy Morgan. This entertaining show will feature shark experts from throughout the country as they identify the most awe-inspiring and most ferocious sharks in the ocean. From rare species to stealth predators, Tracy shows off his favorite sharks and their incredible capabilities and adaptations.

Learn more about the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, including more information about tagged sharks online. Check the Discovery and National Geographic channel websites for additional air times for Shark Week and SharkFest shows.