Shark Week: Is the Pondicherry extinct or alive?

Extinct or Alive -- Photo credit: Discovery Channel
Extinct or Alive -- Photo credit: Discovery Channel /

Forrest Galante went on a search for a Pondicherry, a shark species believed to be extinct since the 1970s, for Shark Week. Is the shark extinct or alive?

Caution: There are spoilers from Discovery’s episode Extinct or Alive: The Lost Shark, which aired during Shark Week.

Since the 1970s, the Pondicherry Shark hasn’t been seen. However, there’s been a sighting that may have been one of these magnificent creatures. During Shark Week, Forrest Galante went on an expedition to find out if the Pondicherry is extinct or alive.

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It’s not easy to prove that a shark is still alive. The Pondicherry hasn’t been spotted for decades, making most authorities believe that it’s extinct. However, Forrest has shown on other episodes of Extinct or Alive that isn’t necessarily the case. There are many times when the believed-to-be-extinct animals have just hidden away from humans for protection.

Could that have happened with the Pondicherry? That’s something Forrest wanted to find out.

During Extinct or Alive: The Lost Shark, Forrest found many Bull Sharks. While not the species he was looking for, the Bull Shark does share many similarities. At one point, he tagged a Bull Shark, which will help with further research. But it didn’t help find out if the Pondicherry was still alive.

It was Forrest’s wife, Jessica, was the one to find something that could be a Pondicherry. Unfortunately, the shark was killed by local fishers along with a Bull Shark, but it is an important discovery. Jessica took tissue samples so they could be tested to see if this shark was, in fact, the one they were looking for.

Extinct or Alive — Photo credit: Discovery Channel
Extinct or Alive — Photo credit: Discovery Channel /

By the end of Extinct or Alive: The Lost Shark, there was no sign of a Pondicherry in the water. However, the tissue samples Jessica collected were conclusive. This was the once-believed-extinct Pondicherry. And while sadly this one had been killed, there’s hope that there are more sharks out there, but they’re hiding away to avoid the dangers of humans.

Catch up with everything Shark Week on Discovery

Overfishing is a major problem for sharks and the leading cause of species going extinct, according to Forrest in an earlier interview. Finding this shark (the tissues samples need to be tested in the United States with DNA testing to fully confirm this is a Pondicherry) is an important step to encourage taking steps to get the National Park boundary pushed out into the water a few miles to protect sharks from fishing.

As for the Bull Shark, you can read the interview to find out how tagging this will help with finding more Pondicherry and helping sharks in general. I will say that I loved the smile Forrest had finding out that it was a Pondicherry at the end.

Next. Forrest Galante talks about finding the Pondicherry and steps we can take to protect sharks. dark

What did you think of Extinct or Alive: The Lost Shark? Are you ready for another season? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Extinct or Alive Season 2 will premiere on Animal Planet in October 2019.