What Happens On Shark Week If They Can't Find Any Sharks? Returning Host Forrest Galante Opens Up About The 'Pressure To Perform'

What Happens On Shark Week If They Can't Find Any Sharks? Returning Host Forrest Galante Opens Up About The 'Pressure To Perform'

Discovery's annual Shark Week is going strong in the 2024 TV schedule, and wildlife biologist Forrest Galante was back this year for the newest edition of Alien Sharks. This time, he was on the search for the extremely rare Japanese angel shark. It was a big task to try and accomplish in a very limited amount of time, with the very real risk that the team just wouldn't be able to find the specific species they were looking for in the massive ocean. Galante spoke with CinemaBlend about the stress of looking for sharks that are nearly impossible to find for a Shark Week special.

Fortunately for Forrest Galante and his team in Alien Sharks: Ghosts of Japan, they did ultimately find an angel shark to spread awareness about their critically endangered status. That's also not all they discovered, as the team found seventeen unique species as well as witnessed and even assisted with velvet dogfish sharks giving birth. When I spoke with Galante – who joked that he's now a "shark midwife" after the experience with the velvet dogfish – for Shark Week 2024, I asked him just how much of a needle in a haystack it is to search for one rare shark species. He shared:

Well, do me a favor and don't tell Discovery this, but it's a massive needle in a haystack and it's incredibly stressful, because we set out to find something... that nobody else has succeeded at finding oftentimes for many, many years. So the stress levels are massively high and the pressure to perform is very different from like, 'Hey, let's go somewhere with some great white sharks and see if they swim around and get some good video.' It's really, really stressful. [laughs]

As usual, Shark Week 2024 is packed with specials focused on great white sharks, including one that prompted one expert to share his concerns about fans of the film Jaws. Alien Sharks had a much narrower focus with the goal of finding a specific species, with no guarantee of even any kind of success. Considering the popularity of Shark Week on Discovery, is it any wonder that there's a sense of extra pressure? Galante continued:

I'm very lucky that I have such a supportive team and crew behind me that I've been doing this with for so many years. One of our mottos is oftentimes, we're just not going home until we find it. Sometimes that can be very taxing and very expensive, but we've been pretty successful so far.

Ghosts of Japan isn't the first Alien Sharks installment with Forrest Galante and his team making some thrilling discoveries while on the search for different sharks, although the dogfish giving birth is quite different from when they unexpectedly found the famous orcas known as Port and Starboard in last year's special. For Shark Week 2023, Galante had told us that he'd considered it a "terrible idea" to count on spotting the two whales because they were surely "never going to find literally two individual orcas in the entire ocean." And then they did, by complete happenstance!

It was a particularly meaningful find due to the ongoing effects of orcas killing great whites in ways that can get pretty gory. Of course, the search for alien sharks goes at a fast pace for those of us watching from home, but how much is the experience a waiting game while the footage is being captured in real time? I asked Forrest Galante that very question, and he shared:

Put it this way: 44 minutes of television is distilled down from in this case six years of pre-production and planning. Yep, we've been working on this project for six years, and then three weeks of full time in the field basically not sleeping, searching all day every day. And that's not a particularly long one. We were lucky that we got it done in three weeks. That's all distilled down into 44 pretty action-packed minutes to tell a story, but this has been six years in the making. This one we've been working on for a while.

Believe it or not, Alien Sharks: Ghosts of Japan was the end result of a project six years in the making. Fortunately, Galante and Co. found their Japanese angel shark to pay off on all the years, all the work, and all the waiting, and this special is worth a rewatch along with other Shark Week programming via a Max subscription. The action isn't over yet for the year either, as Shark Week continues through Saturday, July 13 on Discovery.