It’s time for everyone’s favorite week of television: Shark Week on the Discovery Channel! In celebration of the 25th great year of Shark Week, SHERMAN’S LAGOON will be paying homage to this annual must-see TV event this week. Please follow the weeklong series (bring popcorn and maybe some chum), and make sure to share the Shark Week 2012 fun with all your fellow shark fans.
You can also enter the “SHERMAN’S LAGOON: THINK LIKE A SHARK” drawing right here on DailyINK. Six lucky entrants will win copies of “THINK LIKE A SHARK: AVOIDING A PORPOISE-DRIVEN LIFE,” the newest SHERMAN’S LAGOON book from Andrews McMeel.
And Jim Toomey is here to answer some questions about sharks and Shark Week!
Q: Are you an avid fan of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel?
Jim: I rarely watch television, to give you an honest answer. I do enjoy Shark Week whenever I do find myself in front of a TV this time of year — and I have control of the remote. The whole family, especially my 7-yr-old son William, is kind of shark obsessive.
Q: What is your favorite Discovery program to watch? Any other shows on your “must see/can’t miss” list?Jim: I enjoy “Mythbusters” and “Dirty Jobs” and “River Monsters” — shows with enjoyable hosts. They can make any topic entertaining. I’m continually amazed at how Mike Rowe and Jeremy Wade and the others can find new angles on what seems to be such a limited formula. I particularly enjoy some of the special programming, like the show they did on the Mars Rover “Curiosity.” And, of course, Shark Week.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your strips? Do programs like those on Discovery provide great source material for you?
Jim: I try not to let other media provide inspiration for my media. I always try to reach into my real-life experiences for inspiration. My strip, and my characters, in many ways, are people in fish costumes. I do inject a fair amount of ocean science and conservation into the strip, so it’s a mix of fact and fiction that hopefully compels and entertains. I do a fair amount of diving, and have done a lot of diving with sharks. They are remarkably bright, curious animals. They will swim up to you and check you out. That used to intimidate me, but now I love being in the water with them up close. Now that’s real life!
Q: What is the most fascinating shark fact that you care to share with readers?
Jim: Sharks kill fewer people than toe infections. There are more than 300 species of sharks, and only a handful have been documented to be a danger to humans. Here’s another factoid that I love — great white sharks have a sixth sense. They have organs called ampullae of lorenzini that allow them to detect electromagnetic disturbances in the water. Sherman uses his ampullae of lorenzini to predict sports scores. He cleans up on bets.
Q: What books are you reading now?
Jim: Just finished “DEMON FISH” by Juliet Eilperin. She’s the environment correspondent for the Washington Post, and she’s written a wonderful book about sharks and how we perceive them. I also picked up a copy of Brian Skerry’s “OCEAN SOUL” — a wonderful collection of his photos — and reach for it whenever I need my ocean fix. Buy my book, “THINK LIKE A SHARK” first. Then, if you have any money left, buy theirs.
Q: For our young readers, what advice can you give them about getting involved at school in marine conservation?
Jim: Keep it fun. Find an aspect of the ocean that fascinates you. Shows like what Discovery offers is a great start. Do your next science project on an ocean topic. Let it grow from there. The project doesn’t have to be overtly conservation-oriented. Just about everywhere you look, be it the beach, the coral reefs, the deep sea, or the animals that live there, there’s a conservation angle to it that you can find once you’ve established a genuine interest in the thing you want to conserve.