Viewers, perhaps accustomed to trusting a channel that calls itself “the world’s #1 non-fiction media company” (as Christie Wilcox of Discover magazine points out), were apparently convinced by all the smoke and mirrors (and CGI). A post-show poll shows 79 percent of respondents, as of Tuesday evening. believed the megalodon is still alive after watching the documentary. Only 27 percent said they thought the shark was extinct and “the scientists are right.”
None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated with it in any way, nor have approved its contents.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it was unclear how the shark had reached the transit system.
“We don’t know,” said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the authority. “And we are not investigating.”
Inquiring riders were left to hazard their own theories. Was it vanquished in the Darwinian wilderness of New York City Transit, where rats are small in stature but large in numbers? Had it escaped from Chinatown, where shark-fin soup remains a staple?
Perhaps it began with a fishing trip, witnesses thought, and ended with an epiphany somewhere south of Canal Street: On further consideration, a shark carcass did not belong in a New York City apartment. (Mustelus canis, also known as the dusky smoothhound, often eats shellfish, but not people.)
More cynical travelers observed that the animal had been found during the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” surmising that its appearance might have been a marketing ploy. The channel bristled at the implication.
“It deeply saddens us that someone would think that this was funny, or in any way connected to our celebration of sharks,” a spokeswoman, Laurie Goldberg, said in a statement.
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