Shark Week invades New York and boasts Michael Phelps racing a great white

Shark Week returns to the Discovery Channel this Sunday — and this time, it’s taking a bite out of the Big Apple. “Sharks and the City: New York,” airing Tuesday at 10 p.m., is one of nearly 20 specials in the eight-day extravaganza, and may make you think twice around swimming at beaches around the boroughs. For decades, great white shark numbers were declining in New York, but less-polluted waters, warmer ocean temperatures, and the rebound of seals in the area — the prey of larger species of sharks — means the predators are making a splash on New York City shores. In “Sharks and the City: New York,” marine biologist Craig O’Connell sets out to find out how close great whites really come to beach bums. Turns out, they’re back in our neck of the woods — but you probably have nothing to fear on your next trip to Coney Island. “I don’t think we have to worry about them,” O’Connell tells the Daily News. “The ones we’re seeing tend to be very small sharks and the ones that are off-shore are very big. But at the end of the day, sharks are not hunting people, they’re out hunting fish and they’re hunting seals and things of that nature. We’re not on the sharks’ menu.” That doesn’t mean they’re not lurking. “We found quite a few, about nine,” O’Connell says of his fish hunt for the 29th season of Shark Week. “We captured one. These are small sharks. They’re four-and-a-half to six feet. These are babies.” O’Connell, who co-founded O’Seas, a marine conservation foundation, says it’s great that there have been sightings of juvenile sharks near Montauk and Jones Beach in Long Island since it means that local waters are getting cleaner. “We need the sharks in the environment because it keeps the ecosystem in Continue Reading

‘Shark Week’ returns for another summer splash

It’s a matter of jaws and effect. Viewers’ 28-year summer obsession with the ocean's most fearsome fish continues June 26, when the Discovery channel uncages the latest week-long installment of "Shark Week." Except this summer’s swim will soften the sensationalism of years past and chomp down on science instead. "As people become more exposed to sharks in pop culture, they become more curious about their behaviors," said Mike Sorenson, executive producer of Shark Week at Discovery. "We've succeeded in unpacking some mysteries of the shark. There's so much we don't know and that's what's fueling this curiosity," the TV shark czar said. Last season a collective 42 million tuned in to see what was stirring in the waters. But you’d think after all these years, the network would be running out of fresh bait to keep viewers on the hook. Think again. To quench shark week fans’ briney bloodlust there will, of course, be tons of close calls, cages rattled, gadgets destroyed, seals snapped and sharks gone airborne. But put away any excitement about pre-historic mega sharks this season. Three years ago The Discovery Channel learned the hard way that its most die-hard shark fans are far more interested in science. They prefer the spirit of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau to the meteorological mayhem of “Sharknado.” Discovery’s “a-ha” moment came in 2013 when it quietly snuck the mockumentary "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives" into its “Shark Week” lineup. No fewer than 4.8 million viewers tuned in, making the faux documentary the most watched program in “Shark Week” history. But it left a bad taste in their mouths and when it became clear the doc was a hoax, fans filleted the network. Since then, Discovery has opted to dive into a renewed, deep commitment to science. "You have to draw people in with excitement and Continue Reading

Meatpacking District club’s b-day party for Paolo Zampolli is jolted by a real lounge lizard

Crocs are not a good look for a nightclub. Despite Meatpacking District club Provocateur’s notoriously tough admission policy, one patron who could use a little moisturizer and mouthwash made the cut Thursday night for ID Models founder Paolo Zampolli’s 44th birthday party. Night owls were shocked to see a pretty party girl making the rounds with an apex predator who wasn’t from the finance industry. “This other girl called the police and at least six officers showed up there looking for the pet, but the owner of the crocodile had already left when she was alerted that the cops were on the way,” says a partygoer who got up close and personal with what appeared to be a baby croc. Provocateur, a high-end club that frequently hosts major deejays, including Deadmau5 and Tiesto, was appropriately decorated in a jungle theme for Zampolli’s big night. Earlier in the night, the guest of honor was photographed making the rounds at the Trump SoHo hotel event, carrying a small crocodile around. We’re thinking it’s the same fella. Birthday boy Zampolli is an environmentalist who's served as minister-counselor for Dominica at the UN as well as a UN ambassador for Grenada. It’s a good thing the lounge lizard had a strap holding its toothy mouth shut. According to National Geographic, full-grown crocodiles have by far the strongest jaw power of any animal — quadrupling that of a great white shark. Our insider says the crocodile visited Provocateur around 1:30 a.m. and was gone when cops came looking for it around 2 a.m. How the reptile made it past the exclusive club’s strict doormen and into the room full of models and millionaires remains a mystery. Perhaps they thought it was a handbag? Zampolli didn’t return our request for comment, and Provocateur reps declined to comment as well. selena gomez/via Instagram Selena Gomez gets coffee in Texas in an Instagram Continue Reading

5 things to know about great white sharks

People love her and fear her, but they all want to know more about her.In her migration to the Jersey Shore, Mary Lee, the 16-foot, 3,456-pound tagged great white shark, has become a celebrity. It's hard to find anyone who hasn't heard of her and hasn't been following her whereabouts."It scares you a little. She's gigantic. I've been watching her on the news," said Frank Lonigro, 68, of Old Bridge, a sunbather on Belmar's beach.Several beachgoers soaking in the 80-degree temperatures at Belmar said Mary Lee won't keep them out of the ocean, though. Mark Hullings even went swimming Monday."I last heard she was about 10 miles off the coast. I'm both fascinated and scared by her, but it hasn't changed my opinion about going in the water," said Hullings, 17, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.That is, of course, if she isn't swimming on their favorite beach."If she was surfacing consistently by the coast, I'd be concerned," said Eileen MacConshie, 56, of Wall.Mary Lee reached the Cape May peninsula May 7 after leaving Georgia's coast April 10. She continued to track north, surfacing at Atlantic City on May 8, then came very close to shore in Toms River on Sunday.On Sunday she began to head due east, and it looked as if she was going to head offshore and leave New Jersey, according to Shark Tracker from OCEARCH, the research group that tagged her. The tag sends a satellite tracking signal every time the shark's dorsal fin breaks the surface.On Monday, she was in the Mud Hole, a deep basin and fishing ground beginning about 12 miles east of the coast with depths over 200 feet.But Monday afternoon, Mary Lee did an about-face and began tracking toward the coast again.Marine experts said her movements indicate she's following a particular source of food — and eating it."You'll notice that when she passed Brigantine, she stopped and made some notable surfacing. What's probably happening is her course coincides with the seal population, which is migrating north with their Continue Reading

Mary Lee the shark last seen off LBI

UPDATE: Mary Lee was last tracked about 20 miles off the coast of Long Beach Township, according to OCEARCH. The shark must surface for at least 90 seconds in order for her transmitter to "ping." That most recently happened at 6:54 a.m. on Saturday.Mary Lee, a 3,000-plus pound adult female great white shark that became a sensation after researchers put a satellite tag on her, is headed toward New Jersey. The person who studies her every move believes she's on a mission.   "My gut feeling is Mary Lee is northbound and will end up in September in the Nantucket, Cape Cod area, and mate again," said Chris Fisher, the founder of OCEARCH and the person who tagged and named the shark on Sept. 17, 2012, when she was in the waters of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.Fisher said when water temperatures get into the upper 60s, white sharks start leaving wintering grounds — theorized to be on the southeastern U.S. coastline and in the Gulf of Mexico — for cooler water.White sharks, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, are apex predators that can grow up to 21 feet in length and weigh over 4,000 pounds. The shark was the subject of Peter Benchley's 1974 novel "Jaws," that was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1975. On April 22, Mary Lee was off the coast of Georgia. On Tuesday, she was swimming off the Delmarva Penninsula. It's a distance of about 600 miles between the two locales.  In the video above, you can see all the incredible marine life that make their way to the Jersey Shore.  Her movements, like other white sharks tagged by research groups operating on the East Coast, are helping researchers solve the life puzzle of the Atlantic white shark: where and when it mates, gives birth, and its full migratory range.  "If we understand their life cycle, then we'll be able to help them succeed and move our large sharks toward abundance," said Fisher. "As these Continue Reading

Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’ kicks off with an impressive great white

Filmmaker Jeff Kurr was bobbing on a small metal sled in one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of water — off the coast of South Africa’s Seal Island — when a 2-ton great white suddenly breached the surface like a missile just a few feet away. “It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to have a 14-foot great white fly over the top of you,” Kurr told the News by email from Alaska. “Goose bumps. You have no time to think or react or even be scared.” Meet Colossus, one of the breakout stars of Discovery’s “Shark Week.” The gargantuan alpha male playfully stalked the crew filming “Air Jaws Apocalypse,” the special that kicks off the August institution on Sunday at 9 p.m. This year marks 25 years of “Shark Week,” which is to the network and wildlife lovers what Valentine’s Day is to the greeting card industry. Even after 143 programs dedicated to ocean’s biggest predators over the previous two dozen years, viewers can’t seem to get enough. Because of a new generation of underwater cameras like the Phantom, however, we’re now getting to learn more about these mysterious animals, which haven’t changed much in 400 million years, says Brooke Runnette, executive producer of “Shark Week.” “One of the things that has changed in the time that I’ve been doing it is that the cameras have gotten so much better,” she says. “You can now see sharks like a giant submarine that goes past you and you can see every pore and all the parasites that live on it and all the scars. “You can see that some of it is great white bites and some of it is seal slapbacks and all this kind of detail,” Runnette adds. Besides Kurr’s “Air Jaws Apocalypse,” there are eight other specials. Those include a look at “How ‘Jaws’ Changed the World” (premiering Tuesday Continue Reading

‘Wranglers’ keep tabs on speedy great white sharks

A nonprofit team's real-time satellite tracking of two great white sharks tagged this past September is opening up the mysterious travels of these dreaded and often-demonized killers.Researchers at OCEARCH, which captured, tagged and released the sharks aboard their 126-foot former Bering Sea crabber have found that the sharks swim south much faster than once thought. STORY: Shark attacks reach 12-year-high STORY: Shark attack more fiction than factOne shark, Mary Lee, popped up 200 yards off Jacksonville Beach, Fla., early this year, prompting the researchers to alert local authorities. But their tracking is not intended for shark warnings.Instead, they hope to reveal where these ferocious killers go and why, while raising awareness of the great white's plight — and that of other sharks worldwide."Up to 200,000 sharks will be finned today for a bowl of soup," said Chris Fischer, OCEARCH founding chairman and expedition leader.OCEARCH's Global Shark Tracker project has a website where people can follow about three dozen tagged sharks.Mary Lee and Genie — the other great white tagged off Cape Cod in September — have gained thousands of online fans. They can watch the sharks on their serpentine journeys throughout the coastal Atlantic Ocean, sometimes seemingly a bit too close to the beach for comfort.To catch the sharks, the researchers use large, barbless circle hooks, made of a special alloy. The hooks must degrade quickly in salt water.The ship's hydraulic lift hoists the sharks onto a wooden platform, where researchers gather samples and tag the sharks."Any time you're handling a 4,000-pound great white shark on big ships, you've got to be careful," said Fischer, whose research efforts are chronicled on the History Channel series Shark Wranglers.They implant Smart Position and Temperature tags on the sharks' dorsal fin. The tags can record temperature, salinity and depth.The tag's battery gets triggered when the shark surfaces, sending a Continue Reading

Fisherman hooks great white shark in Florida

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. — When Fab Marchese sailed into the Gulf of Mexico with Go Fast Fishing Charters, he thought he might come back with grouper.Instead, the angler visiting from Canada returned with the story of a lifetime: 3½ hours of battle with a great white shark. STORY: Sharks getting global help STORY: 'Wranglers' keep tabs on great whites"You can't imagine something that big on the end of your rod there," he said. "I was hanging onto this thing no matter what."Capt. Joe Maisano was the one who took him out on the boat Friday. He has seen a lot of sharks but never a great white like this."Big Momma showed up, wanted to play," he said.They were 30 miles off the coast of John's Pass, near St. Petersburg, Fla., and about four hours into their boat ride when they saw what looked like a submarine beside them. A cell phone was recording as they realized it was a great white shark — a rare find that was more than 10 times Marchese's weight and half the size of their boat.They let the shark drag them for five miles and set out bait.Marchese held on with all his strength, reeling as he tried to steady himself inside the boat. He never got to see the shark's teeth, but Maisano did."Just like the movies," Maisano said.The photos and videos are the only proof of their fight. Great whites and two dozen other shark species are protected, and anyone who catches one must let it go or face large fines, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.But what Maisano and Marchese won't let go of are the memories."Just the vision of seeing that head — it's massive. That's what I'm going to remember most," Marchese says. "This is like a dream come true. I'd never think that something like this is going to happen. It's just like, how am I going to top this off now?" Continue Reading

A big guide to summer movies

Summer is here, or almost. It arrives early in movie theaters, the way Christmas comes to a department store. In that vein, there will be plenty of nice gifts among the many offerings here, as well as some disappointments. (It's a numbers game, really — they can't all be good. Or bad.) Keep in mind, these are the big releases; smaller independent films will pop up here and there throughout the summer. And, as always, the schedule is tentative. Check local listings. Editor's note: We'll be keeping an eye on this list, so as movies open, we'll add links for reviews. Click titles for full reviews.  RELATED: Ready for another summer of superhero movies?“Captain America: Civil War” (PG-13): The summer movie season  kicks off in earnest. Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) disagree on whether the government should oversee the Avengers. Didn’t Superman and Batman just fight this out? And shouldn’t they just be out there, I don’t know, saving the world or something?“The Darkness” (PG-13): From the press release: “A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation with a supernatural presence in tow.” Great. Just what Arizona needs: another public-relations embarrassment. At least this one doesn’t involve the Legislature.“Money Monster” (R): George Clooney plays a blowhard TV financial “expert,” with Julia Roberts. Jack O’Connell is the working-class fellow who lost all his money listening to Clooney’s advice. Now he’s mad as hell, not going to take it anymore. So he takes Clooney hostage — on air. Must be a sweeps month."Love & Friendship" (PG): Kate Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan Vernon, who schemes to find a husband for her daughter — and, while she's at it, herself.“The Angry Birds Movie” (PG): Origin story of the popular app game, which is to say we learn why the Continue Reading

BITING BACK. Sharks are the prey as New York anglers reel in big ones for bragging rights and cash

If shark fishing has little to do with skill and a lot to do with chance, Joe Gaviola must be the luckiest man alive. The 50-year-old Montauk fisherman had won an unprecedented three of the last four Star Island Yacht Club Shark Tournaments entering last weekend's contest. On the docks, rumors of dirty tactics and foul play swirled quicker than a school of fish. But this Father's Day, Gaviola's luck ran out. At the largest shark fishing tournament in the Northeast, with over $717,000 up for grabs, a new winner arose from the depths of the 231-vessel competition. Rich Lucas, 42, and Team Staten Island Yachts caught a 399-pound, 10-foot thresher shark to claim the $25,000 prize for heaviest shark. "Took us two hours to reel him in," said Lucas, whose father, Rich Lucas Sr., was on-board. "The last hours [of the tournament] were nerve-racking, but now that we won, my dad might get a Father's Day present." The shark fishing contest, in its 20th year, gave out cash prizes for the three heaviest blue, mako and thresher sharks caught during the two days of competition. Team Tuna Tailes brought in a 260-pound blue shark, and the Prime Time team won with a 247-pound mako. Crowds of Long Island residents - including Aida Turturro, who plays Tony Soprano's sister Janice on "The Sopranos," and fishing legend Frank Mundus, the inspiration for the character of Quint in the original "Jaws" movie - watched as boats weighed their fearsome catch. Also on hand was a fisheries biologist for the National Maritime Fisheries Service, who kept an eye out for abnormalities in the sharks and took DNA samples that will be used for research. "The biologist is a new addition that'll hopefully provide some valuable information," said Sam Gershowitz, owner of the Star Island Yacht Club. "I've been running this tournament for 20 years, and each year it gets better." Gershowitz added that a lot of the fish that get brought in go to feed the homeless. While it was Team Staten Island Continue Reading