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Published August 12 2012

Shark party: Sink your teeth into Shark Week with these tips for feisty, fishy fun

FARGO - Just because we’re thousands of miles away from the nearest ocean, doesn’t mean those of us in the Red River Valley can’t celebrate Shark Week with a splash.

The annual event, which kicked off Sunday night on the Discovery Channel, is celebrating its 25th year of weeklong, shark-themed programming.

For longer than that, though – really, ever since “Jaws” debuted in 1975 – sharks have served as the stuff of nightmares, folklore and making us all a little wary about going in the water.

While the carnivores may be something to fear, they also fascinate the masses. So what’s the appeal of sharks anyway?

There are about as many reasons as there are fish in the sea, says Brian Wisenden, a professor of biosciences at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

For example, says Wisenden, who researches fish and even some freshwater sharks, the swimming carnivores have been around for a very, very long time.

“These are ancient things that go back beyond the dinosaurs,” he says. “They’re way old. They have this primitive look to them.”

That agelessness, combined with the fact that sharks live in the ocean, gives the animal a sense of mystique that is unique to just them.

“They’re in some ways inaccessible to the common person,” Wisenden says. “They’re out there in the deep, dark depths of the ocean. You can’t just go see them.”

But, thankfully we have Shark Week for that. And to assist in celebrating the event effectively, we’ve put together a list of shark-related ideas to help spice up your party.

Movies

If you’re ready for more sharks after Discovery‘s nine hours of new shark programming, rent a couple of these blood-in-the-water flicks.

The obvious choices here would be anything from the Jaws franchise (which includes “Jaws,” “Jaws 2,” “Jaws 3-D” and “Jaws: The Revenge”), but we think you’ll have a more enjoyable experience by thinking outside the box.

1.) “The Reef” – A favorite of Forum Features Editor Heidi Shaffer, this 2010 Australian film tells the harrowing tale of a group of friends stalked by a great white shark after capsizing in the ocean.

2.) “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” (can be switched out with “Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus”) – The titles of these movies are probably all that you need to know.

3.) “Shark Night 3D” – This 2011 film has something to do with sharks being introduced into a private lake to feed on college students. Or something.

4.) “Shark Tale” – In 2004, Dreamworks gave sharks the animated treatment with this film, which stars the voices of Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger and more.

5.) “Open Water” – Probably the most realistic movie on the list, this 2003 film about a couple left stranded on a scuba-diving expedition is guaranteed to give you the chills long after Shark Week ends.

Food and drink

Of course, any good party needs some refreshments.

Bloody Mary: Because any shark movie is expected to have a significant amount of blood and gore, this drink that’s red in color and bloody in name certainly fits the bill.

Mix three parts vodka and six parts tomato juice with one part lemon juice, then add dashes of Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir gently, and garnish with a celery stalk or dill pickle spear.

Blue Bay: Mix one part blue curacao and two parts bitter lemon soda, then throw in some Swedish fish gummy candy to create this drink with an aquatic appearance.This is just an example, but any drink with blue curacao (or blue food-coloring or Gatorade, for a non-alcoholic option), mixed with some Swedish fish make for an ocean-themed drink that’s sure to impress and alternately weird out your friends.

Watermelon shark snack: Carve a watermelon for a Jaws lookalike following these instructions from the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

What you need:

• 1 oblong, seeded watermelon

• Dry erase marker

• Large knife

• Smaller utility knife

• Large spoon

• Paring knife (you can use the tip of a vegetable peeler)

• 2 large marbles (or cherries, blueberries, red grapes, etc.)

• Toothpicks or wooden skewers

• Swedish Fish candies for garnish

Instructions:

1. Wash and dry the watermelon.

2. Cut off Zc of the watermelon at a diagonal angle.

3. Stand the remaining Xc upright on your work surface and use a dry erase marker to draw the mouth line and eye sockets.

4. Cut out the mouth. Trim back a ½ inch line of the green part of the rind for the teeth area.

5. Use a large spoon to scoop out the watermelon flesh, leaving 3 inches intact at the base.

6. Cut out the teeth, using a smaller utility knife.

7. Use melon baller to cut out the eye sockets that match the size of large marbles. Then use a paring knife to trim the green area around the eyes. Insert marbles.

8. Use the carved out rind from the mouth to make the dorsal fin, shape as shown in the picture. Attach the fin using toothpicks.

9. Fill the mouth with triangle shapes of watermelon, accented with Swedish fish.

Be crafty

Depending on your skill level and commitment to Shark Week, there are all kinds of crafts you can do with ordinary household items to spice up your party.

Take, for example, paper plate shark jaws – all you have to do is fold up a paper plate, and cut a jagged teeth design in the middle, almost like a snowflake.

Or, if you really want to impress your guests, make yourself a shark hoodie sweatshirt. Sew some white fabric triangles onto the hood of a grey sweatshirt as teeth, attach a fin to the back, and you’re ready to enjoy Shark Week with the best of them.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535