[Interview] Forrest Galante for ALIEN SHARKS: STRANGE NEW WORLDS

It’s that time again, gang. “Shark Week” is back on Discovery Channel, and this year’s round of programming is sure to have fans titillated and ready to go. With Jason Momoa hosting, fans can expect adrenaline-inducing original hours of sharks from new and continuously explored destinations, all captured on-camera by Discovery’s dedicated science and research field teams. Needless to say, there’s a lot for us shark fans to get our eyeballs on.

For “Shark Week,” Nightmarish Conjurings’ Sarah Musnicky got a chance to chat with biologist, Forrest Galante. Focusing on his “Shark Week” segment, ALIEN SHARKS: STRANGE NEW WORLDS, they chatted about the complications of working in the oceanic climate, how Christine de Silva’s tech allowed them to explore extreme pressure depths, and how the recent OceanGate tragedy may impact the progress of deep sea exploration.

To put it politely, the topic of deep sea pressure conditions has taken the world by storm recently. In ALIEN SHARKS: STRANGE NEW WORLDS, we get to see a whole new world of creatures that live in those conditions due in part to your diving, but also the new technology that was created to get us close and personal to these “alien creatures.” In this particular venture, what proved to be the most difficult part of the process, because working with deep sea conditions is, as we have now come to learn, quite tricky.

Forrest Galante: Well, there’s a two-part answer to that. First of all, the most difficult part of that show, in general, was the weather conditions. We don’t make it a big element in the show. We tend not to over-dramatize anything because it’s not something that my team and I believe in. But it was hectic. The waters freezing cold. It’s in the high 40s in a lot of that diving. It was rough as can be. In some of the frames, you see me sort of going like this [stabilizing himself] when I’m trying to present a camera because of the big surge.

But when it comes to the deep sea sharks, which I found absolutely fascinating, I have to give all credit to Christine de Silva, who was sort of my co-host in that episode, she is a world-class scientist, researcher, and roboticist. She made those unbelievable BRUV cameras, those baited remote underwater video devices that we dropped down 10s of 1000s of feet to film sharks on the bottom of the ocean and see pieces of the world that no human eyes have ever seen before, which is a pretty cool thing to be able to see.

That deep water stuff was all on Christine. I was very lucky and very fortunate that I was able to hire her and work with her and really just piggyback on her skill set and research when it came to the deepwater stuff because it is far beyond my capability or knowledge base.

As we’ve now seen in the episode, because of the constantly changing conditions, that technology may not be adequate in terms of finding migrating species like the broadnose sevengill shark.

Forrest Galante: And this is just a start, right? And I think that the most important thing to understand is like Christine’s technology is incredible. Even with all of our scuba diving technology and stuff like that, scuba diving isn’t in its infancy. But a lot of the marine science technology that we use in that show is in its infancy.

And to go back to the very topical point of the OceanGate sub, to me, that’s the biggest tragedy of that disaster. Of course, it’s incredibly sad that people lost their lives, but more so it’s going to stifle the progress of deep-sea exploration. Imagine if, when the Wright brothers had been creating airplanes, if the first time one of their airplanes crashed, they’re like, that’s it. No more airplanes. Global travel would be an entirely different state to what it’s at today.

Sadly, I think that may be what comes about with deep sea exploration due to these recent headlines, and for me, the part of that deep sea exploration that’s so important is understanding the creatures that live down there and their connectedness to our world. It is sad, but thankfully, there are these remote technologies like the camera traps we used in the show.

Yeah, and hopefully it’ll allow us to continue to discover more and more of these beautiful creatures.

“Shark Week” kicked off on Sunday, July 23rd at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel.

Check out Forrest Galante in ALIEN SHARKS: STRANGE NEW WORLDS, which premieres Monday, July 24th at 10 PM ET/PT on Discovery.

Sarah Musnicky
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