Stuart Cove’s 33rd year with famous show
Country superstar Brad Paisley adds star power
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Producers, film makers, divers and support crew fanned out across the waters off the southwest coast of New Providence recently, shooting footage for Shark Week, which will air the second week in July, captivating viewers in up to 88 million homes and multiple platforms in 224 countries.
The episode shot in The Bahamas featuring local divers and marine scientists like Dr Austin Gallagher, “Beneath the Waves”, will air on the Discovery Channel on July 13.
Headlined “The Science of Sound”, it explores sharks’ reactions to the sound of music, country music in particular, thanks to the picking, plunking, playing and familiar voice of country superstar Brad Paisley, who added star power to what is likely to be cone of the most watched TV shows of the year.
Paisley played live on the dive boat, with his recordings lowered by divers through underwater sonar equipment, and moved with them as they swam and interacted with dozens of curious nurse and reef sharks. A diver himself, the singer-songwriter spent two days experiencing the deep with local divers like Kareem Bethell and Tyson Smith.
Stuart Cove’s Dive provided vessels and dive gear and every minute was filled with action.
When it comes to what it takes to make Shark Week filming work, Stuart Cove is up to the task.
“We have been working with Shark Week every year since the first episode was filmed in The Bahamas in 1988. Every year, I think ‘what can Discovery Channel do to top this?’ and the next year they come up with something even more interesting or scientifically important,” said Cove, who founded and operates the country’s largest world-renowned dive business.
This year, he had an additional hand — his son, Travis, a diver-turned-actor who doubled for another in the show.
Cove, a director of Save the Bays who is active in coral reef preservation, said he believes Shark Week has helped sensitize the public to the value of sharks.
“Jaws made us afraid; Shark Week makes us understand. Presenting the real, true story of the value of sharks helps us appreciate the important role they play in the marine ecosystem,” he said.
Gallagher agreed, saying: “Marine scientists, including myself, give The Bahamas great credit for the country’s shark sanctuary legislation.”
Gallagher has been exploring and documenting marine resources in The Bahamas for more than a decade and said there is no body of water comparable to it. A proponent of naming the waters “The Lucayan Sea”, he cited the statistic that an individual is more likely to be struck by lightning twice than to be bitten by a shark.
“Research which we have helped contribute to demonstrates that tragically, unlike The Bahamas, there are countries where greed and avarice create a shark fin trade that claims fins from up to 73 million sharks a year,” said Gallagher.
“And while The Bahamas is protecting sharks and, as you can see, the population out here today is healthy and active and non-threatening, sharks in many places elsewhere continue to be threatened and that is heartbreaking for anyone who studies their role in the marine ecosystem.”
Shark Week on Discovery Channel will run from Sunday, July 11, through Sunday, July 18, with the Bahamas episode on the third night, Tuesday.
Discovery Channel dubs its 2021 shows a “jawesome lineup”, beginning with a docuseries and including celebrities Paisley, William Shatner, JB Smoove, Tiffany Haddish and others, with celebrities diving alongside marine biologists and representatives from respected science institutes like Beneath the Waves and Oceana.
Shark Week 2021 precedes the Summer Olympics and promises “to deliver all-new groundbreaking shark stories revealing remarkable insights into the mysterious world of these magnificent creatures,” according to Discovery Channel.