Florida Tech Shark Biologist Toby Daly-Engel Will Star in Shark Week and SharkFest Programs
By Adam Lowenstein, Florida Tech News Bureau // July 9, 2021
shark extravaganzas start July 11
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech shark biologist Toby Daly-Engel, Ph.D., will appear in three separate programs as Discovery and National Geographic broadcast their respective shark extravaganzas starting July 11.
Daly-Engel, who heads Florida Tech’s Shark Conservation Lab, conducts research using a combination of genomics, field ecology, and modeling to study shark mating systems and habitat use, and the impacts of climate change on shark populations.
A sought-after expert interviewed by national media outlets including Fox & Friends, National Public Radio, and The Atlantic, Daly-Engel first participated in Shark Week in 2016 and made her most recent appearance in 2018. She returns in a major way in 2021.
“What I hope people take away from my appearances this year, is first, how shark reproduction is much more like mammals than like other types of fish, meaning they grow slowly and stay pregnant for a long time, longer than humans. That means shark populations do not rebound well if they are overfished,” Daly-Engel said.
“The second is that many sharks are threatened by extinction, and because their role as predators is so important for maintaining a diverse marine food web, this puts the health of the whole ocean ecosystem at risk.”
Here’s a look at the shows featuring Daly-Engel on Discovery’s Shark Week and NatGeo’s SharkFest:
■ Tiffany Haddish Does Shark Week: Premieres at 9 p.m. ET Sunday, July 11, Discovery. Streaming the same day on discovery+. Haddish, an actress, comedian, and author who starred in the 2020 films “Bad Trip” and “Like a Boss,” joins Daly-Engel and others for a swim with sharks.
Daly-Engel said, “I never expected to meet Tiffany Haddish – an inspiration for so many and the first woman of color to guest-host Shark Week – let alone be right next to her the first time she goes diving with sharks. She had a ton of questions, which I love. I hope because our show is somewhat unusual for Shark Week, with the focus on shark sex, that people will tune in and learn something they didn’t know before.”
■ MotherSharker: Premieres 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 13, Discovery. Streaming the same day on discovery+. It’s a mystery where tiger sharks give birth, and Daly-Engel and a team of scientists and shark experts deploy an arsenal of new technology to try to crack the case. They’ll need to meet some of Bahamas’ biggest tiger shark mothers face-to-face for it to work.
“I’m really excited that people will get to see first-hand some of the work we did on this research project,” Daly-Engel said. “We know so little about where sharks mate and give birth, and if or how pups from the same litter interact after they swim away from mom. It’s just a black box.”
■ World’s Biggest Bull Shark? Premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 13, National Geographic. Encore presentation at 9 p.m. Aug. 10, Nat Geo WILD, and streams on Disney+ starting July 16.
Nearly a decade after a 10-foot-long, 1,000-pound bull shark was caught and released off the coast of Florida, some scientists believe this massive creature, named Big Bull, is the matriarch of a unique population of giant bull sharks.
There is only one way to find out if that’s the case: getting up close and personal.
“I love getting to team up with other scientists and seeing what they do and combining my techniques and technologies with theirs to tackle some of these questions,” Daly-Engel said.
“Everyone is really passionate about working to learn what we need to learn about shark populations to make sure they’re protected.”
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