Shark week on network news

Although numerous network television news programs on Wednesday and Thursday featured helicopter footage of hundreds of sharks gathering in shallow waters off the western coast of Florida, experts in the area said Thursday that it was not unusual for a group of sharks to be feeding in that area during the summer. The St. Petersburg Times quoted Dr. Michelle Heupel, a shark researcher at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, as saying that the only thing out of the ordinary was the television coverage; “[The sharks] are being seen in normal numbers this year. … This is business as usual for the sharks, and it should be business as usual for us,” she said. Nevertheless, several TV news programs on Thursday featured interviews with spokesmen for shark fishermen who maintained that the reason for the shark sightings was government restrictions on commercial fishing in the offshore waters. Jaws author Peter Benchley told the Times that the media always overreact to sharks. “Oh, Christ, we’ll never learn,” he remarked.