University of Miami researcher makes a splash on ‘Shark Week’

Neil Hammerschlag, research associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
By Amanda M. Perez

Neil Hammerschlag, research associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

University of Miami researcher makes a splash on ‘Shark Week’

By Amanda M. Perez
Neil Hammerschlag provides a preview of what to expect during this year’s shark programming set to begin airing on the Discovery Channel on Aug. 9.

Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” is back and swimming onto television sets this summer with a University of Miami connection. For the fifth year in a row, Neil Hammerschlag, research associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, will be featured in the jaw-dropping lineup. 

“Each season of ‘Shark Week’ is a new opportunity to feature a different science project and to get involved in something new. This year, the experience for me personally was different because I got to educate people in a unique and fun way,” said  Hammerschlag, who is also the director of the University’s Shark and Research Conservation Program

On Aug. 10, Hammerschlag will make an appearance on the show, ‘ShaqAttack’ where Shaquille O’Neal will be on a mission to determine what shark has the perfect predatory attack. In the show, O’Neal teams up with YouTube stars Dude Perfect and Mark Rober to put various species to the test and uncover the most mind-blowing hunting techniques for this apex predator. Hammerschlag explained that his main role was to teach the YouTube stars interesting facts about these predators. 

“It was a cool opportunity to partner with these YouTube stars who have such a large following with the younger generation,” he said. “I’m hoping that this will be a way to educate more people, particularly the younger audience that are tuning in to see these stars who might walk away with a new interest in sharks.” 

Hammerschlag will also be featured on the show “Monsters Under the Bridge” which airs on Aug. 12. It centers around monster sharks that scientists believe have made their home under the Old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys. 

“I was really excited to shoot this show. I had the chance to head down to the Florida Keys where we investigated this mystery by tracking great hammerhead sharks by getting genetic samples. Our goal was to track them and compare them to other great hammerheads in other areas to figure out if these populations are something unique to the Keys,” he said. 

Hammerschlag believes “Shark Week” is a great way to teach the public about sharks. 

“Most people are landlocked and aren’t familiar with the ocean. I think ‘Shark Week’ teaches everyone about these predators in an entertaining, cunning, and adventurous way that makes science cool,” he said.

He also hopes “Shark Week” inspires the next generation of scientists. 

“I think having science be featured in an entertaining way like this can help kids get inspired to get into careers of this kind,” said Hammerschlag.

“ShaqAttack” airs Monday, Aug. 10, at 9 p.m.

 

“Monsters Under the Bridge” airs Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 8 p.m.