Shark and Awe! Discovery’s Shark Week Dives Deeper Than Ever for Its 30th Anniversary

© Discovery Communications

On July 17, Shark Week — Discovery Channel’s popular annual programming event — officially became a 30-something.

It was on that day in 1988 when the network first debuted what has grown into a pop culture phenomenon. Ten shark-themed programs aired during that first week, and the event has only grown over the decades.

This year, just after Shark Week’s big three-oh, Discovery is really taking a deep dive to celebrate, with over 19 hours of programming.

Along with providing more fascinating insights into the toothy creatures via groundbreaking shark-research technology, the new specials will also feature what seems to be even more celebrities than usual, including the cast of ABC’s Shark Tank; Bear Grylls; and top athletes Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, Ronda Rousey and Lindsey Vonn.

Here’s a look at just some of the new specials airing during Shark Week’s 30th anniversary the week of July 22:

Bear vs. Shark (July 22, 8pm ET/PT) Don’t worry, this special doesn’t pit those two animals against each other. The “Bear” in this case is survival expert Bear Grylls, who may find his greatest survival challenge yet as he encounters sharks on their home turf.

Ronda Rousey Uncaged (July 22, 10pm ET/PT) No, former MMA champ and new WWE star Rousey isn’t fighting a shark. She’ll be trained by shark conservationist and shark attack survivor Paul de Gelder to “free dive uncaged” with potentially fierce makos in the waters off New Zealand.

Monster Tag (July 23, 8pm ET/PT) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Olympic skiing medalist Lindsey Vonn join top shark scientists to learn how satellite tags can help experts learn where the animals feed, mate and give birth.

Air Jaws: The Hunted (July 24, 10pm ET/PT) The great white shark is at the top of the sea’s food chain, but this episode follows another creature that is also right up there and actually capable of killing and devouring adult great whites — the orca, a.k.a. killer whale.

“Shark Tank” Meets Shark Week (July 25, 9pm ET/PT) In a team-up that seems so obvious you have to wonder what took so long to get around to it, the human “sharks” of the hit entrepreneur competition series — Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary — get out of the tank and into the water to determine which shark-saving cause is most deserving of a $50,000 donation. Back in the studio, they are joined by fellow shark Robert Herjavec to make their pitches.

Great White Shark Babies (July 27, 10pm ET/PT) Scientists try to learn where a group of pregnant female great white sharks, after having one last big feed of seals, go to birth their pups.