Disney Plus Adds Bite to National Geographic’s 'Sharkfest' Lineup

Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth
Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth (Image credit: National Geographic)

National Geographic’s ninth annual Sharkfest will continue to focus on the science of sharks but will add a few new wrinkles -- and a new distribution partner in Disney Plus -- to keep shark fans glued to the month-long programming event that kicks off July 5

“It’s the most ambitious Sharkfest we’ve done yet,” said National Geographic Partners senior VP of development and production Janet Vissering. “Like every year, shark scientists and oceanic experts have pulled out all the stops for this year’s Sharkfest.” 

Vissering said that viewers’ fascination with sharks has continued to grow over the decades since the 1970s hit movie Jaws debuted and as more publicity is given to shark sightings as well as the rare and unfortunate shark attacks on people. She added that she hopes the Sharkfest programming lineup brings greater understanding and information celebrating sharks.

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Streaming service Disney Plus will join National Geographic in streaming this year's Sharkfest programming beginning July 9. The service will also premiere National Geographic Documentary Films’ Playing With Sharks on July 23. Vissering said the inclusion of Sharkfest content on Disney Plus helps expand the reach of the event to audiences that might not be familiar with the network’s annual programming stunt.

This year’s Sharkfest lineup on Nat Geo launches July 5 with Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth, which is a slight departure from the network’s traditional scientific-themed shark programming. The television and film star will team with shark conservationist Valerie Taylor to explore the sharks that have led to an increase in shark attacks along the east coast of Australia.

“We always have celebrities who want to do a shark show,” said Vissering, adding that Hemsworth brought to the table an affinity for and appreciation of sharks, as well as a desire to seek better understanding on how to stave off and eventually co-exist with the predators. 

Below are Sharkfest shows, descriptions and premiere dates per National Geographic. Dates are subject to change.


National Geographic — Premieres July 5, at 8/7c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 2, at 8/7c

Disney+ — Beginning July 9

The world’s beaches quickly turn deadly in this terror-filled deep-sea saga when sharks descend, shocking the local community and sending scientists reeling. What causes these spikes in activity? And how can they be prevented?


National Geographic — Premieres July 5, at 9/8c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 2, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 9

Chris Hemsworth is on a mission to uncover the science of shark behavior and discover how humans and sharks can safely coexist. After an increase in local shark attacks along the east coast of Australia, Hemsworth seeks to understand different species of sharks and their behaviors while also exploring new preventative measures and the latest technology to help stave off shark-human encounters. The special from Nutopia (“One Strange Rock”) also features underwater conservationist and legend Valerie Taylor.


National Geographic — Premieres July 5, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 11, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 9

In October 2018, the remote islands of the Whitsunday in Australia were rocked by a series of shark attacks. Incredibly, all the victims were attacked in the same small patch of ocean, no larger than four football fields. Was a rogue serial killer on the loose? Or was something new drawing sharks and humans into conflict?


National Geographic — Premieres July 6, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 3, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 9

Off the coast of South Africa in 2017, orcas began hunting and killing great white sharks. Now, researchers in New Zealand set out to discover if it could happen again. Diving with several shark populations along New Zealand’s southern coast, they investigate this murder mystery and seek answers to this burning question: have their local orcas developed a taste for great white sharks?


National Geographic — Premieres July 7, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 12, at 8/7c

Disney+ — Beginning July 9

For years sharks have been viewed as solitary predators, but scientists have recently discovered a surprising new behavior. In this special, we reveal how this apex predator likes to hang out in gangs. So what is behind this behavior? Do sharks enjoy a social life, or are they working together to become even more effective hunters?


National Geographic — Premieres July 8, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 4, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 9

From mysterious severed heads and ambush attacks to mob hunts and stand-offs, what happens when two of the deadliest predators on the planet go head-to-head?


National Geographic — Premieres July 9, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 5, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 16

The great white has a reputation for being the scariest in the sea, but Explorer Jacques Cousteau called the oceanic whitetip “The most dangerous of all sharks … Two teams of experts dive deep into the world of the oceanic whitetip to reveal what makes this species a top contender for the title of “world’s most dangerous shark.”


National Geographic — Premieres July 12, at 9/8c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 9, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 16

This action-packed series is an investigation into bizarre and fascinating shark behavior. Featuring footage from actual attacks, interactions and behavior captured by both professionals and observant bystanders, every twist and turn leaves viewers sitting on the edge of their seats. Scientific experts and investigators dive deeper into the mystery of these unexplained behaviors and come to a stunning revelation that ties these extraordinary events together.


National Geographic — Premieres July 12, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 6, at 10/9c

Disney+ — Beginning July 16

Paige Winter was only 17 years old when she lost a leg and portion of her hand to a shark. Experts unpack the details of Paige’s attack to determine what kind of shark is responsible and what can be done, if anything, to avoid this happening again. Despite all Paige has lived through, this inspirational teen remains an advocate for sharks and, with the guidance of professionals, takes brave steps to overcome her greatest fears.


National Geographic — Premieres July 13, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 10, at 9/8c

Disney+ — Beginning July 16

It was a freak encounter that broke all the records. In 2012, off the coast of Florida, shark scientist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag caught the mother of all bull sharks—it stretched more than 10-feet long and weighed over 1,000 pounds! They named her Big Bull and set her free. Bull sharks in Florida patrol the beaches, terrifyingly close the swimmers, and feast on seasonal migrations of baitfish. Many long thought these sharks were just well-fed, but now some scientists believe that Big Bull is the matriarch of a unique population of giants. There is only one way to find out ... and you gotta get close.


National Geographic — Premieres July 15, at 10/9c

Nat Geo WILD — Encore Presentation Aug. 11, at 9/8c

Disney+ — Beginning Aug. 6

The mystery of orcas attacking great white sharks for their livers leaves scientists baffled. This unusual predatory behavior has been witnessed in three parts of the world: California, South Africa and Australia. But the most shocking outcome is the disappearance of the other sharks after the event. How are they communicating with their kin and getting out of dodge when the killer whales move in?


Disney+ — Premieres July 23

A true pioneer in both underwater filmmaking and shark research, Valerie Taylor is a living legend and icon in the underwater world whose life’s work has become the basis for much of what we know about sharks today. Through remarkable underwater archival footage, along with interviews with Valerie herself, PLAYING WITH SHARKS, from National Geographic Documentary Films and twice Emmy®-nominated director Sally Aitken, follows this daring ocean explorer’s trajectory from champion spearfisher to passionate shark protector. From the birth of cage diving to “Jaws” hysteria to the dawn of cageless shark diving, Valerie became a trailblazing advocate for the ocean’s most maligned and misunderstood creatures.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.