SharkFest Review: “Sharkcano” (Nat Geo)

The award for the sexiest title during National Geographic’s SharkFest goes to Sharkcano. The title calls a lot of imagery to mind, such as a volcano spewing out sharks instead of lava. But this is not the SyFy channel, it’s National Geographic. So this is not a Sharknado situation where a tornado starts over water, picks up a mess of sharks and spits them out on unsuspecting humans at a carnival where they get devoured. As fun as the thought of sharks rolling down the side of a volcano terrorizing the communities that live below it is, expect something else entirely.

This hour-long special starts on Réunion, a volcanic island where shark attacks are so common that it’s illegal to swim in the ocean. The island was built by its active volcano and frequent rains turn the waters around it into a murky chocolate-milk-like substance where visibility is low. Coincidently, it’s the perfect feeding ground for Bull Sharks, who have small eyes that make them less reliant on sight and more on smell for hunting. These big fish are unlike most sharks, attacking other creatures as big as their 7-feet in length.

Dr. Michael Heithaus is in search of the mysterious connection between sharks and volcanoes. Since swimming in the waters around Réunion is not an option, he starts with an underwater camera connected to his boat. But to really conduct this research properly, he’ll have to look elsewhere and partner with other National Geographic Explorers.

Elephant seal breeding season in Guadalupe is part of the research, where steep underwater flanks made by volcanoes make it easier for sharks to get close to the shore to hunt the elusive prey. But more than that, a controlled underwater magnet test is conducted to see if the magnetic pull of volcanoes plays a bigger role in the phenomenon. The result is truly jaw-dropping and a can’t miss event for any ocean lover.

The majority of Sharkcano is spent trying to answer the question of why sharks are so attracted to volcanos and they give some very good answers. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t also see sharks inside an active volcano. The coup de grâce comes from Dr. Brennan Phillips, a National Geographic Explorer who was studying active underwater volcanoes who shares underwater of sharks swimming inside a submarine volcano shortly after an eruption. A literal Sharkcano, exactly what you came to see. Time well spent.

I give Sharkcano 5 out of 5 residents of “Nurse SharkVille”

Sharkcano premieres Tuesday, July 21, at 10/9c on National Geographic with an encore presentation on Wednesday, August 12, at 7/6c on Nat Geo WILD!

Click here for the full SharkFest programming schedule.