Is the Megalodon shark real or fake? A program on Discovery Channel Sunday night confused viewers by implying that the giant shark still exists. However, at the end of the two-hour program, which aired as part of the annual Shark Week, a disclaimer revealed that it was just a legend.
"None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated with it in any way, nor have approved its contents," read the message. "Though certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized, sightings of [giant shark] 'Submarine' continue to this day. Megalodon was a real shark. Legends of giant sharks persist all over the world. There is still debate about what they might be.
While Megalodon sharks did exist, they have been extinct for more than a million years. Nevertheless, the program seemingly implied that these creatures are still around and could attack us without notice.
As Gawker notes, there were signs before the ending that this story of the Megalodon was a hoax. The mockumentary had no qualms about showing supposed deaths from the shark, which took place in April of this year. If this had really happened, we surely would have heard about it before the mockumentary aired.
Still, this did not stop angry viewers from ranting on social media. These fans were used to stories of real animals dominating the airwaves during Shark Week. Some viewers were disgusted that the network began this year's festivities by showing a fake documentary.
"A public apology is in order for that Megalodon nonsense," wrote Jacques Jacobs on the Discovery Facebook page. "73% of the people polled on YOUR site now think it's real...that it's not extinct. That's not education!!! You're FAILING at your mission. What now? You become the MTV of science channels?"
Despite these complaints, the executive producer of Shark Week does not regret the network's decision to air this Megalodon movie. Michael Sorensen claimed that it's possible the creature still exists somewhere.
"With a whole week of Shark Week programming ahead of us, we wanted to explore the possibilities of Megalodon," Sorensen said in a statement. "It's one of the most debated shark discussions of all time, can Megalodon exist today? It's Ultimate Shark Week fantasy. The stories have been out there for years and with 95% of the ocean unexplored, who really knows?"
This is not the first time a seemingly real mockumentary has made headlines. Earlier this year, Animal Planet aired a film that claimed to prove the existence of mermaids. Only the end credits revealed that the movie was a hoax. But considering the huge ratings this fake documentary earned for the network, we're not surprised that the Shark Week producers employed a similar tactic.
You can watch clips of this supposed Megalodon here!