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Cast
| Formats | Notes | Pictures | Summary - Official | My Summary | My Review

Cast

Job - Location Person
Narrator - California Malcolm McDowell
Great White Expert - UC Davis Bodega Bay Marine Lab Dr. Pete Klimley
Studies Elephant Seals - UC Davis Santa Cruz Dr. Burney Le Boeuf
Shark Brain Expert - Scripps Institute of Oceanography Dr. R. Glenn Northcutt
Sea Lion Trainer - Long Marine Lab Dr. Jenifer Hurley
Shark Advocate - Pelagic Shark Research Foundation Sean Van Sommeran
Director - Sea World of California Mike Shaw
Diver - "Deeper Blue" Joel Roberts
Diver - "Tiburon" Lynn Jennings
Assistance - CA Dept Parks & Rec Gary Stratchan
Assistance - CA Dept Parks & Rec Frank Balthas
N.O.A.A. Aaron King
Activist - Surfers Environmental Alliance Tim Loomis
Tour Guide - Trisharks Jon Capella
Representative - County of Santa Barbara Larry Gillespie
Tags Sea Lions - Biology Graduate Student Susanna Blackwell

Directed by Andrew C. Horton

Formats

VHS - NTSC

Notes

Pictures

VHS Cover - front
VHS Cover - back

Synopsis - Official

    Red is the color of blood. And it has given its name to a swath of the Pacific where the Great White Shark breeds, migrates - and eats! They are drawn northwards to feast on elephant seals and other fatty marine mammals that frolic along the dramatic California Coast. Now marine biologists study the role the Great White plays in the California ecosystem. What are their migratory patterns? How have the seals adapted to their threat? Why do Great Whites attack humans? And can surfers protect themselves?

Summary

    The documentary covers the area known as the "Red Triangle" which extends from the Año Nuevo Islands to the Farallon Islands to the coast of San Francisco. This area averages one death a year from shark attacks. The documentary features many interviews with experts talking about the issues.
    First up, Dr. Klimley explains how the sharks attack a sea lion by pulling it down, biting the head off and then pouncing on the body when it floats up to the surface. The sharks have a fast metabolism and need the fat of the sea lion to survive. He also explains that surfers are attacked because they resemble the sea lions in shape and color of the wetsuits. If a shark does happen to bite on a human it will always let them go because of lack of the needed body fat.
    Joel Roberts dives is the area of the Farallon Islands. No one lives there and the water is dark and very cold. He hunts for abalone shells which earns him much money. It is a known shark area, but he is aware and careful of them. In all his years he learned springtime is the safest time to dive as he has never seen a shark during this time. In total he has had nine shark encounters and explains his first spring encounter. A great white came up on him out of nowhere and he said it was like lying on the road and having a station wagon drive over you. He was scared, but managed to avoid an attack and sped back up to the boat completely dry mouthed.
    Dr. Le Boeuf works on Año Nuevo which is home to hundreds of Elephant Seals. He explains how the seals are safe on the sand, but when they need to feed on fish they have to run a shark gauntlet. They must go out and down the continental shelf to get to the fish and more than half the seals do not survive past their first year. Once the seals get to the shelf they can descend a mile in 30 minutes and the shark can't catch them. Some of the bulls can weigh two tons and often get killed during mating season going after the females in the water.
    Mike Shaw runs the San Diego Sea World and explains how they can't keep a shark in captivity or it will die. They have tried vitamins and every type of fish, but the sharks don't respond to them and after a few dies they get sick and die. They captured a young great white, but had to return it to the wild after only 11 days. It remains the only predator that cannot be tamed.
    Scientists learn much about sharks from the dead ones they bring in. They found a two ton 18 foot specimen that was accidentally caught in a net. When they cut it open, they take out the liver which makes up 1/3 of the total weight. This time they found half a sea lion in the stomach.
    Steve Stickney and Ward Motyer tell how their friend Jimmy was killed. At the time of the show he was the last person to be killed by a great white. He was diving and when he came up his friends pulled him out of the water and there was a 15 foot long blood trail because his leg was bitten clean off. There was no way to save him. When the coroner examined the wetsuit they determined that the bite marks meant the mouth was 18 inches long and the shark would've been 25 feet long - the longest one on record.
    Dr. Northcutt tells about the sharks brains. He shows an actual brain that is only as big as a finger. Even the manta ray has a brain 10 times the size. This shows that the shark basically has no intelligence at all and it just a pure predator. He says that the shark couldn't distinguish between a sea lion and a surfer if its life depended on it.
    Dr. Hurley raises sea lions in captivity and trains them to go in the wild and video tapes whales and other marine life we don't have access to. Peter Benchley based his novel "Great White" on her and the program, though he changed it that the lions went after sharks and some got eaten. This hasn't happened in real life.
    Jon Capella shows how he takes people on tours to see sharks up close and personal. Since it wasn't always successful he decided to chum. Chumming consists of grinding up fish and entrails to put out a bloody trail to attract the sharks. The surfers in the area do not like him or his chumming. They claim it leads sharks to the area and teases them, thus making them more likely to attack. It is a hot topic for debate and the surfers are trying to enact legislation to ban it. They say it is bad for the humans and the sharks as it is a false signal for food.
    Sean Van Sommeran is against the chumming and also is an activist for the sharks. He goes out and cleans sharks up and removes fishing lines they get caught on. He has become very vocal against the chumming and has attracted the media's attention and invited them out to watch Capella in action. Capella wasn't happy about that and would fly the diver flag to keep them away from his boat. Area Windsurfers also complain about the dangers of chumming.
    Susanna Blackwell and other students go to the beaches and sedate the sea lion cubs. Then they weigh and tag them so they can monitor their progress if they survive the next year. The sea lion cubs aren't happy about this, but are defenseless to stop it.

My Review

    This film is like going to school with Malcolm as a teacher. It is something I never would've thought about watching, but with Malcolm's involvement I'm always there. This piece was very well done as it covered every aspect of the sharks, people and animals in that area. I think one of the most interesting aspects was the fact that these 18 foot plus long sharks have brains only around 3 inches long. These animals are pure killers not to be messed with. I also found it interesting that it is impossible to keep them in captivity or they die. I would think that taking away their hunter/killer instinct takes away their will to live.
    They also made an interesting statement that sharks never killed a human outright. They will bite them, thinking they are a seal and once they realize they are not, spit them out. It is also pretty funny watching these elephant seals waddling down to the water like Jabba the Hut, but also realizing they can swim a mile straight down faster than anyone is amazing.
    I just wish that Malcolm wasn't the narrator, but the host. It would be fun seeing him going from site to site to talk to the people instead of just doing the voice over. He does a great job as usual with his narration and every time I hear him I am always longing for more documentaries with him narrating. Think of all the different things we would learn about that we might not pay attention to normally! I definitely recommend it.

Rating: 9/10

Together Again

2003 - Malcolm narrated Jaws of the Pacific for the Discovery Channel.

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