Discovery Channel's Shark Week - Uproar over Michael Phelps' race with a CGI shark
Posted by Jeff Watson on July 25, 2017 . 0 Comments
Phelps' fin-maker doesn't need CGI to swim with sharks!
Michael Phelps recent "stunt" to attempt to out-swim a shark on Discover Channel's Shark Week kickoff was both technically impressive (Michael received a 349% increase in propulsion from an advanced monofin over 50m, which increased his speed by 87% over his fastest 2009 World Record butterfly pace!) and yet left others with a bad taste in their mouth.
The Lunocet monofin that Michael Phelps used in the event which allowed him to increase his speed by 87% over his world record setting pace to 8.8 mph, is an advanced piece of swimming technology made in the USA.
Dr. Frank Fish, Professor of Biology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania states that "Phelps’ enhanced swimming performance is due to the design of the Lunocet, which incorporates the shape and mechanics of the flukes of dolphins. Oscillation of the wing-like flukes allows for increased thrust production and propulsive efficiency."
The fin's maker, while thankful for the exposure, thinks that the controversy could have been avoided by having Michael get in the water with the sharks outside of a cage.
Caribbean Reef sharks, Nurse sharks and Hammerheads can generally be safe to dive with, provided the proper precautions are taken and you have enough people in the water to ensure that your blind-side is being watched.
In the picture above, the owner of the company that sells the fin that Phelps wore, is seen diving with 15+ Caribbean Reef sharks in clear visibility water on a local reef in 80' deep water in Roatan, Honduras.
"I wanted to validate that my swimming was technically sound enough, to not be mistaken for a wounded prey item" jokes the owner.
Accordingly, it is never a wise idea to dive, swim or wade in murky water where a shark will have a higher likelihood of mistaking you for an easy meal. The conditions in South Africa where Phelps was diving were very murky.
Additionally, Bull Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Great Whites are some of the most aggressive apex predators that are responsible for shark-on-human incidents. Diving in waters where these species are known to frequent is assuming unnecessary risks.
An explanation early on regarding the approach that DIscovery would be taking as well as mixing in some of the footage that will likely air later in the week re: Phelps and "Shark School" at the Bimini Shark lab, with Phelps swimming with Hammerheads and Nurse shark, could have prevented the cyber-backlash.