How Shark Week's Great White Serial Killer Special Solves A Tragic Mystery, According To The EP

Great white shark from Shark Week's Great White Open Ocean 2022.
(Image credit: Discovery)

Shark Week is back on Discovery with the 2022 slate of new specials, and that means the returns of some fan-favorite series like Air Jaws and Great White Serial Killer. This year’s edition of Great White Serial Killer is called Fatal Christmas, and will tell the story of a surfer who died off the shore of California on Christmas Eve in 2021. Executive producer Jeff Kurr spoke with CinemaBlend and shared what to expect with how the special solves a tragic mystery. 

Great White Serial Killer: Fatal Christmas will see great white shark attack investigators using forensic evidence and eyewitness reports to try and connect the dots about what happened and answer the question of what shark killed the surfer. Viewers will have to tune in to see the journey, but executive producer Jeff Kurr spoke about his work in the franchise and how investigators cracked the case, saying:

I've been working on a series called Great White Serial Killer since 2013, and they've been extremely popular episodes because we really look into some of the behaviors of great white sharks, as they're associated with attacks on humans. What we cover in Great White Serial Killer: Fatal Christmas is a man who was killed by a great white off Morro Bay on Christmas Eve last year. We were actually able to determine the exact size of the shark involved, and then eventually we discover the exact shark. We know his name. We know he was there. And that's all due to new technology, satellite technology.

Shark Week has been going strong and growing since its debut in 1988, but using satellite technology to solve the mystery of the killer shark is something that likely couldn’t have been achieved even as recently as a few years ago. Fatal Christmas will deliver some answers about what happened on Christmas Eve 2021, but that wasn’t the only goal in this investigation. Jeff Kurr continued:

Ultimately, we look into this attack, but we also want to prevent attacks in the future by hopefully informing people about when sharks are in their area and when they should avoid the water and things that they should do to try to avoid attack. But [it’s a] very emotional touching story of this guy, Thomas Butterfield, who was killed by a great white, and you really get to know his story and it's just amazing to actually think that we can pinpoint the exact shark that killed him. That's never been done before. So just another amazing show that we were able to put together this year.

Jeff Kurr certainly has the Shark Week experience to vouch for when shows are especially amazing, as he has been part of Discovery’s week of shark programming for decades. He also has no fewer than four specials airing this year. Great White Open Ocean was a cinematic special that followed his friend’s “miraculous” story of survival against all odds, and Air Jaws: Top Guns will bring in two of Shark Week’s most familiar faces to try and make history. Shark House will make the fourth of Kurr’s specials in 2022. 

Be sure to tune in to Discovery on Monday, July 25 at 9 p.m. ET to catch Great White Serial Killer: Fatal Christmas as the latest installment in that deadly Shark Week series. It will be a night packed with must-see shark action, starting with Stranger Sharks (featuring Stranger Things actor Noah Schnapp) at 7 p.m. and continuing with Air Jaws: Tops Guns back in South Africa on the search for breaching great whites at 8 p.m. ET to lead into Great White Serial Killer. The final special of the night will be Rise of the Monster Hammerheads at 10 p.m. ET with researchers searching for answers about two legendary great hammerheads.

For some more viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, be sure to take a look at our 2022 TV premiere schedule, and check back with CinemaBlend for more coverage of Shark Week 2022 on Discovery. You can find more shark content streaming on Discovery+, which is also the home of many true crime series and documentaries.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).