Sharks are known to be one of the most captivating creatures yet the most feared ones on the planet. So what happens when a man, who is a survival expert when it comes to more extreme situations on land, goes head-to-head with the ocean’s apex predator?
Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’
, the longest running event on TV, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week.
After three decades of bringing the most jaw-dropping and misunderstood animals to the world, this year’s programme has set the bar even higher by adding Bear Grylls
to their list of shark encounters, a British adventurer, writer and TV presenter as seen on Man vs Wild
and Running Wild
We had the opportunity to hear from the man himself about what it was like to go head-to-head with sharks in their own homeground in Bear vs Shark
“I’ve always been a big fan of ‘Shark Week’. It is a great platform to promote efforts in shark conservation and they’re doing a fantastic job getting people around the world interested in the magnificent shark species. It was a total honour to host the show and help people to understand more about these animals' behaviour,” Grylls shared.
After tackling extreme conditions over the years, like the frozen peaks of Everest, blazing sands of the Sahara Desert and becoming a human bait in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy, you would think that the word ‘fear’ does not exist in Grylls’ dictionary.
But that is not true.
“There is always that hand on my shoulder, from one of our crew, knowing it is hard for me but encouraging me to face the fear once more. You have to face fears head on, and understand that fear is there to sharpen us,” Grylls shared.
“Time, experience and a whole bunch of narrow escapes, has taught me that the best way over our fears is not to run from them, but to face them and to go right through
the middle of them.”
This advice applies to almost every tough situation in life, doesn’t it? Unless we’re talking about flying cockroaches.
In Bear vs Shark
, the bull shark dive at dusk in murky waters, with no cage
, was the sketchiest moment for Grylls. Being in the water with hammerheads, bull sharks and a tiger shark also got his heart racing.
“The big lesson though, if you are in the water with aggressive sharks, is to stay calm and not show fear.
They can detect it almost as strongly as blood in the water,” he said.
Along his journey to become the ultimate survivor, it would be a lie to say that Grylls faced every situation perfectly.
Parachute failures, being bitten by snakes and pinned in white water are just some of the close calls he has encountered over the years because situations like these don’t discriminate. If you’re the chosen one, you’re done for.
“Anytime you are exposed to mother nature and wildlife, the unpredictable can happen and it brings with it significant risks to consider and mitigate,” he said.
“However, it is my job to try and navigate safely around the dangerous situations. It is all about being prepared for the unexpected! There was a lot of mental preparation going into this.”
Through it all, Grylls picked up the ability to stay calm, and coming face-to-face to a shark
without a cage was his goal in Bear vs Shark
It was a privilege for him to be able to study some of the most majestic sharks off the Bermuda Triangle.
“I wanted to see how I fared when the sharks have the home field advantage and how we can protect ourselves should you ever find yourself alone and stranded at sea and exposed to a potential shark attack,” he shared.
To be honest, this is something that not many of us have thought about, you know, being stranded in the ocean with sharks around us. That would be a total nightmare!
After having the chance to feel the sheer size of these sharks up close, Grylls felt an even bigger responsibility to protect them.
With the support of local shark conservationists, the team tagged a tiger shark with a tracking device
. It serves to provide crucial lifesaving data to understand the sharks’ movement, behavior, patterns and what they need to survive.
“It was a special moment for myself and the team. There was a huge sense of care, purpose and focus that went into ensuring it was done safely and well. For every little bit we can do towards gathering data and understanding shark patterns and behaviour, the better chance we have of protecting this amazing species,” he said.
Despite having explored almost anything you can imagine in the wild and now in the ocean, Grylls is nowhere near satisfied.
“I have a huge bucket list that seems to keep on growing! I would still love to do some of the unclimbed peaks in Greenland – there is such huge expanses of genuine wilderness, totally unexplored and a sense of awe that is hard to describe,” he expressed.
Another big dream of his is to bring his family to the Everest base camp one day because he had made a promise to show them the mountain.
So, while we wait for that to happen, tune in to Grylls’ greatest test of wits and skill as the ultimate survivor faces off with the most fascinating sharks.
Bear vs Shark premieres tonight (23 July) at 9pm
on Discovery Channel’s (Astro CH 551/571) 'Shark Week'. You can also enjoy more shark-centred programmes in the lineup at the same time every night all of this week, so be sure to set your reminders!