Shark Week Turns 30, And Yes Shaq Is Involved

shark week 2018 discovery
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Discovery)

Shark Week is returning to the small screen this summer, and viewers will get a full week of primetime specials all about sharks. This year's celebration of all things shark will be unlike any other, as 2018 marks the event's 30th -- yes, 30th -- anniversary. Discovery is celebrating the milestone with some of its most ambitious and almost certainly entertaining specials. Even famed basketball great Shaquille O'Neal is joining in the shark-tastic fun this year! Here's what you can expect.

For its 30th year, Shark Week is bringing on a lineup of all-star athletes. Michael Phelps won't be racing a shark again, perhaps because he accepts that he'll never change the results of a race against a shark from what they were in 2017. Instead of more Phelps, Shark Week 2018 will feature Shaq, legendary martial artist Ronda Rousey, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski, and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. On the celebrity side, viewers will see contributions from Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, Daymond John, Guy Fieri, and Bear Grylls. Throw in the shark experts, scientists, and fearless underwater cameramen (including none other than Shark Week vet Andy Casagrande), and we're in for a wild ride.

If that sounds like a lot even for a week dedicated to sharks, you have good reason. Shark Week 2018 is slated to feature the most hours of shark programming in the history of Discovery. More than 20 hours of shark-tastic fun (and yes, learning) are in store for this year's Shark Week. Shaq's big episode will air in the prime slot of 9 p.m. on the first night of Shark Week, and in his special -- wonderfully titled "Shaq Does Shark Week" -- the massive former NBA star will attempt to overcome his fear of sharks. Something tells me Shaq can't hide from sharks quite like he attempts to hide from paparazzi. Not too many details are available beyond the fact that he'll work through his fears with Rob Riggle in The Bahamas, but I'm guessing hilarity and shenanigans will ensue. Sign me up!

In case you were worried that another special devoted to great white sharks breaching out of the depths wouldn't be featured on the 30th anniversary of Shark Week, you can rest easy. Discovery will air two such specials: "Air Jaws: The Hunted" and "Air Jaws" Back From The Dead." Good news for viewers; possibly bad news for seals. Is this payback for how they hacked Shark Week last year?

The special called "Sharkwrecked" will be an explosive hour described as "the most dangerous stunt Shark Week has ever undertaken" and feature two divers spending two days without supplies among sharks. The special I'm personally most excited about doesn't air until the very last hour of the very last night of Shark Week. "Naked and Afraid Of Sharks" will stick five Naked and Afraid veterans on an island in the middle of the most shark-infested waters on the planet. They'll have to survive for two weeks with only what they can catch from the ocean as sources of sustenance. This will be one special that I will not envy the participants but will definitely enjoy watching.

The wait for these specials and more won't be too terribly long. Shark Week's 30th anniversary will kick off on Sunday, July 22 at 7 p.m. ET and run nightly through Sunday, July 29 on Discovery. For some non-sharky viewing options, check out our summer TV premiere schedule.

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, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.