‘Nature: Sharks Of Hawaii’ Succeeds Through Its Story, Cinematography

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Sharks are awe-inspiring creatures.  They have inspired fear and respect among people around the world for centuries.  They have remained such a force in the natural world that they have led to a series of big screen horror flicks and even a long-running week of programming simply titled, “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel.  Even Disney has gotten in on the popularity of sharks by adding its own programming on Disney XD and National Geographic. Even PBS has jumped on board this year with a recent episode of Nature that examines The Sharks of Hawaii.  The penultimate episode of the series’ 39th season, it aired April 21 and was released on DVD July 6.  The episode offers plenty to appreciate in the way of its story.  At the same time, that story makes the episode’s title somewhat incorrect.  This will be discussed a little later.  The episode’s cinematography puts the real accent to its presentation, which should come as no surprise.  It will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the episode’s DVD presentation.  All things considered, they make Nature: Sharks of Hawaii another largely enjoyable episode of PBS’ long-running wildlife series.

Nature has, for almost 40 seasons, proven to be one of the top wildlife series on television, if not the top series of its kind.  The recently aired penultimate episode of its 39th season, Sharks of Hawaii serves well to support the noted statements.  That is proven in part through its featured story.  As the episode’s title infers, it examines the various species of sharks that call the waters around the Hawaiin islands home.  There are shale sharks, black tipped and white tipped reef sharks, tiger sharks and others that populate the region, as the story shows.  Even rays, the sharks’ “cousins,” enjoy the warm, Pacific waters around Hawaii’s islands.  Audiences will be interested to learn that while sharks are technically predators, some can in fact be prey to others, such as the white-tipped reef sharks.  According to the story, tiger sharks in the region actually hunt the white tipped reef sharks.  Just as interesting is the revelation that in some cases, some sharks in the region who might otherwise hunt whales actually follow them instead, so they can find food.  This leads into another intriguing aspect of this episode.  That aspect in question is the bigger picture here of the undersea ecosystem that exists around the Hawaiian islands.  The sharks and their connection to the rest of the region’s undersea life is examined as well as the interconnection of those organisms.  A lot of time is spent examining this matter, if not more than the sharks themselves.  The whole makes for a nearly hour-long episode (52 minutes to be exact) that is worth watching.  It also leads to the episode’s one negative, its title.

As already noted, the title of this episode is Sharks of Hawaii.  Yes, some time is spent examining the different species of sharks that call the waters around the Hawaiian islands home.  At the same time, a lot of time is spent examining not just the region’s shark species, but the region’s overall undersea ecosystem.  To that end, the episode’s title is somewhat misleading.  This critic will admit to not being able to develop another title at this point.  However, considering how much time is spent focusing on the rest of the region’s fauna versus just the sharks, the episode’s title simply does not fit well.  That aside, the episode is still worth watching because it does focus on so much of the region’s undersea ecosystem.  To that end, the mistitling is not enough to make the episode a failure.  It is just a minor issue that audiences cannot ignore.

Knowing that the issue with this episode’s title is only minimal in its negative impact, there is one more positive to examine here.  It comes in the form of the episode’s cinematography.  As with so many episodes of Nature, this episode’s cinematography is second to none.  The aerial shots of the islands are among some of the episode’s best.  That is because of the richness in the contrast of the blue waters and the green of the plants and trees that line the islands.  The contrast is so stark and rich.  On another avenue, the camera work that takes audiences below the waves is memorable in its own right.  Audiences will find themselves fully engaged as they watch a group of sharks feast on the carcass of a dead sperm whale.  That is because despite the common belief about sharks and feeding frenzies, that is not what viewers see here.  Rather, the sharks seem rather patient and social.  On a related note, the aerial shots of another breed of sharks working together to basically corral a school of fish before they go in for the kill.  It really shows a side of sharks, once again, that audiences rarely see.  Between these shots and so many others featured throughout the episode, the whole of the episode’s cinematography offers so much for audiences to appreciate.  Taking that into account, it and the episode’s story pair to make this episode of Nature another enjoyable addition to the series’ long-running history.  That is the case even with the episode clearly bearing a misleading title.

Nature: Sharks of Hawaii is a mostly enjoyable addition to the 39th season of PBS’ hit, long-running wildlife series.  Its enjoyment comes in large part through its central story.  The story aims to focus on the various shark species that call the waters around Hawaii home.  The thing is that it branches out beyond that, also focusing on their role in the bigger, overall undersea ecosystem in those waters.  This leads to the episode’s one notable negative, its title.  The title is somewhat incorrect, considering everything that the episode’s story presents.  It is problematic, but hardly enough to make the episode a failure.  The episode’s cinematography once again stands out, offering more than its share of engagement and entertainment throughout.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the episode.  All things considered, they make Sharks of Hawaii a program that while certainly incorrectly titled, is still enjoyable in its own way.  Nature: Sharks of Hawaii is available now. 

More information on this and other episodes of Naure is available online at:




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