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'Shark Men' premieres Sunday on National Geographic Channel

April 5, 2011 | 11:09 am

Expedition leader Chris Fischer, marine biologist Michael Domeier and crew are back for another season of "Shark Men," premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel with two hourlong episodes. Additional episodes will follow, airing at 10 p.m. on Sunday nights through June 12.

Though the name of the series has changed (it was “Expedition Great White” last year) the focus is still the same -- attempting to learn more about the mysterious great white shark and its life cycle -- where the sharks are born, where they migrate, how they mate, and where they congregate.

Using a specially designed, 126-foot-long mothership that includes a 37-ton hydraulic platform for hoisting a living shark out of the ocean, the crew returns to Mexico's Guadalupe Island, 160 miles west of Baja California, in the hopes of landing, tagging and releasing sharks -- specifically females -- alive. This season, they also secure a permit to hook a white shark at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of San Francisco, and also travel to just off the shores of Malibu, hoping to catch juvenile great white sharks in an effort to learn more about the younger years of the apex predator's life cycle. 

"Shark Men" episode descriptions through April are after the jump (the rest of the descriptions are still pending):

Sunday, 9 p.m.: "Murky Waters"

In the second season opener, the Shark Men head to the rocky, barren Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. The National Marine Sanctuary, which oversees all activity in the area, has granted the Shark Men the first-ever permit to hook a great white shark there for research, with the caveat that a sanctuary observer be onboard. Their first catch does not go smoothly, and the crew must eventually release the shark with part of the hook still caught in its throat. When the sanctuary suspends their permit, expedition leader Chris Fischer and marine biologist Michael Domeier must fight for the chance to continue their expedition.

Sunday, 10 p.m.: "Hot Water"

After their permit to fish off the Farallon Islands is suspended, the Shark Men anxiously wait to hear whether they can resume their expedition in the closely protected marine sanctuary. While expedition leader Chris Fischer and marine biologist Michael Domeier plead their case for reinstatement before the National Marine Sanctuary officials, the crew members use this downtime to modify their equipment and lessen the potential danger to any shark caught in the future. Their permit is finally reinstated, but the sanctuary’s superintendent decides to come onboard to oversee the capture-and-release process herself. Will the next catch bring more problems, or will the Shark Men have a chance to show how important their research efforts are?

Sunday, April 17, 10 p.m.: "Surfing with Sharks"

The Shark Men head to Southern California just off the shores of Malibu, and find the waters teeming with juvenile great white sharks about 1,000 feet from where beachgoers surf and swim unknowingly close by. Juvenile sharks are of keen interest to the Shark Men, who want to learn more about the younger years of the fish’s life cycle to help them better understand the whole story of the species. The Shark Men adapt their catch-and-release method so as not to put the younger, smaller sharks in any danger while tagging them, and successfully land juveniles from the very first day of the expedition. 

Sunday, April 24, 10 p.m.: "Young and Hungry"

As their expedition off the coast of Malibu continues, the Shark Men suspect that juvenile great whites are using the area as a kind of nursery, with its warmer and shallower waters providing the young sharks with a perfect place to grow and prepare for adulthood. The crew wants to catch more females since they have different migration patterns from the males and are the key to locating and eventually protecting shark birthing sites. Besides landing a second young male, the Shark Men get what they wish for and land a juvenile female before their Southern California expedition concludes.

-- Kelly Burgess

Video credit: National Geographic Channel