In 'Shark Attack Experiment LIVE,' Scientists Bait Sharks With Bikini-Clad Girls to Study Hunting Patterns

VIDEO: Bill Weir on effort to show predators not attracted by sight of human flesh.
Share
Copy

Girl. Bikini. Shark. The only thing missing are two notes on a tuba – duhm, duhm – that ominous, iconic indication that "Jaws" is about to turn the water blood red.

But here in the shark infested waters off the South African coast, the women are not actresses and the sharks are not movie robots. They are part of a bold experiment to prove that almost everything Steven Spielberg and Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" taught us to fear about the ultimate predator is wrong, and "Nightline" was invited along for an exclusive sneak peek.

Watch the full story on "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET

Since making it his life's work to demystify these monsters, marine biologist Dr. Ryan Johnson free dived with sharks countless times, he uses bite meters to measure the strength of their jaws and even helped develop silicon "robo-seals" to study the way Great Whites hunt their prey in beautiful Mossel Bay.

But even though dozens of massive sharks spend over half of the year cruising less than a half-mile from some of the most popular beaches in Africa, there has not been a shark attack on humans here in over 20 years.

Johnson is so convinced that sharks are not the mindless man-eaters that he's recruited a small team of "shark angels" to test whether the animals are truly driven into a feeding frenzy by the sight of white flesh, the smell of human blood and urine or the flash of jewelry.

After his lovely assistants baited a number a sharks without a single menacing nibble, he's decided to put his theories to the ultimate test with "Shark Attack Experiment LIVE," airing Friday, Nov. 25 on the Nat Geo WILD channel.

"All of us on this crew are convinced that what we're doing is responsible," Johnson said. "We wouldn't be doing this if we thought we were going to get bit. It's a chance for us to put ourselves on the line and prove our theories."

While there is the inherent danger that one of his "angels" will end up as post-Thanksgiving chum, Johnson hopes that the live show is actually anti-climactic because fear of these animals, along with Asia's love of shark-fin soup, has led to a decades-long slaughter of sharks. And without a strong population of these apex predators, the health of the entire undersea ecosystem suffers.

"This is what the element of live TV can do," Johnson explained. "You don't see that three months of filming cut down to that 20 seconds of gory action, action, action. You're actually gonna see what Great Whites are like, doing little sharky things, being calm and they're stunning to watch."

null
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Salvager Eric Schmitt was combing through the wreckage of a convoy of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of Florida in 1715 when he discovered a missing piece from a gold Pyx.
Courtesy 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC
Lisa Kudrow
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library | Getty Images
PHOTO: In this April 26, 2013 photo, a large home intended for the family of Warren Jeffs is seen in Hildale, Utah.
Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP
PHOTO: Zac Efron seen at BBC Radio One, April 24, 2014, in London.
Neil P. Mockford/GC Images/Getty Images