Shark Week is not an official holiday. Not yet.
But the annual celebration of things toothy and cartilaginous now gets marked in dozens of countries around the world and even in places far inland, like Chicago.
Indeed, it is pretty much a summer mainstay, whether celebrated ironically (we have Shark Week to blame/credit, it is fair to say, for the "Sharknado" movies) or with passion, expertise and actual sharks, as at the Shedd Aquarium this week.
Not bad for an event that began, in 1988, as a way to highlight cable channel programming during the summer TV doldrums.
The Shedd even has a part in the Discovery Channel's offerings this week. Kristine Stump, a postdoctoral researcher at the aquarium, is one of the experts interviewed for Monday's (9 p.m.) "Monster Hammerhead" show, an examination of legends of a 20-foot member of that shark species living off the Florida coast.
Back here, where our big body of water is blessedly shark free, the aquarium is riding the Shark Week bandwagon with a series of events and opportunities, such as:
- A chance Monday, on Twitter from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., to grill Shedd experts about sharks. Use the hashtage #sharksatshedd to pose your question.
- Special member tours of the Wild Reef exhibit, where six of the Shedd's shark species can be found. The tours take place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. all week.
- Answer the challenge to find all 11 shark species that the Shedd has, including bonnetheads and wobbegongs.