A Jaw-some Q&A With Monster Fish’s Zeb Hogan

The season finale of Monster Fish was shark themed last night, which makes sense being that it’s SharkFest and all.  And since it’s the sharkiest time of the year, the host of Monster Fish, Zeb Hogan, took to Facebook after the finale to answer everyone’s fin-tastic questions about the ocean’s most feared and revered predators.

Q: What’s your honest opinion on the direction Shark Week is headed with their new “mockumentaries?”

A: I am not a very judgmental guy, but I watched one show last night and I was shocked that Discovery would air a show that is presented as fact (unless you see the disclaimer) but actually is fiction. I think it’s misleading and it’s bad television. People love sharks so it just doesn’t seem necessary to present fictitious mockumentaries. I’d guess they do it either because the shows rate well or because they feel like they need to do something different every year or Shark Week will get stale. I’m glad that Nat Geo Wild is offering alternative programming for people who would like to see documentaries.

Q: Are fresh water shark smaller than salt water ones?

A: Freshwater sharks are not necessarily smaller than marine species (bull sharks can grow to over 700 pounds) but what we tend to see in freshwater are the young sharks – so as you probably noticed many of the sharks that we caught were juveniles.

Q: What is your favorite shark species?

A: That’s a tough question. Growing up my favorite sharks where great whites and tiger sharks. But as I learn more about other species, I like them too. Bull sharks are amazing in that they can live in pure freshwater and sometimes travel as far as 1000 miles up rivers like the Mississippi and the amazon. The speartooth and northern rivers sharks became two of my favorites while we were filming the show, because of their rarity and the mystery surrounding their life cycle.

Q: What is the most dangerous shark in the world?

A: Tiger sharks, great whites, and bull sharks are thought to be the most dangerous to humans. Bites can be fatal. But many smaller sharks have also bitten people, especially in places like Florida with high numbers of beach goers. Those bites aren’t usually very serious and don’t cause major injury. Most sharks will use their teeth and bite to defend themselves, so it always pays to be respectful around sharks – if you’re bothering a shark, it may bite you!

Q: What kind of shark species has the biggest population on earth?

A: Off the top of my head, I would guess spiny dogfish. Certainly they used to be one of the more abundant sharks. But it is a sad story: while spiny dogfish only grow to about 3 feet in length, they don’t start reproducing until they are 25 to 35 years old! And we don’t manage fisheries for them very well. So they are now listed as threatened globally.

Q: What really causes sharks to attack humans; is it blood or is the habitat just depleted?

A: Oh, that’s a complicated question. Sharks will bite people if they mistake a person for prey or if they feel threatened. It’s best to avoid swimming in areas with chum/bait in the water – that’s why spearfishers sometimes attract sharks. It’s also best to avoid swimming at night or in murky water if you are in a area known to be popular with sharks.   For every rule there is an exception however – you can feed sharks in Tahiti and night diving is perfectly safe in most areas. It’s best to ask a knowledgeable local about what is safe in any given area.

Q: What is the largest shark and where is it located?

A: Whale sharks are the longest, largest shark. They occur worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas. Basking shark and megamouth also get huge – basking sharks grow to 40ft and megamouth to about 20ft.

Chomping at the bit for more?  Head on over to Nat Geo WILD’s Facebook to see the rest of Zeb Hogan’s Q&A.  And don’t forget…SharkFest continues all this week!