Review: Jeremy Wade wrestles with ancient shark in ‘River Monsters’ final season premiere

Jeremy Wade returns for the ninth and final season of Animal Planet’s hit series ‘River Monsters.’ (Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr)

In the premiere of Animal Planet’s final season of “River Monsters,” host Jeremy Wade hooks the biggest catch in show history: a 14-foot “sixgill,” or cow shark, which he pulled from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Hence its name, the sixgill shark has six gill slits while most other shark species have only five. The shark, which is rarely seen on camera, is more closely related to extinct fossil species of shark than any living species today.

Another jaw-dropping catch for Wade is nothing out of the ordinary. Wade has made a career of investigating mega-aquatic attacks and (literally) catching the suspects, but his days of televised fishing are coming to an end.

In this episode, “Killers from the Abyss,” Wade investigates the aftermath of the RMS Laconia sinking. Eyewitness accounts describe passengers being attacked and dragged underwater while awaiting rescue in the water. Besides the sixgill shark catch, Wade reels in a mahi-mahi, snoak, big-eyed jack and a tiger shark in the special one-hour episode Sunday night. He also plunges into 2,000-foot-deep water with a dead pig strapped to his submersible to take a closer look at the sixgill shark in its natural habitat.

Known normally for unearthing freshwater beasts, Wade broadened his search of aquatic monsters to all bodies of water starting season eight and looks to be continuing this trend for the final season.

“Although we’re getting short of material,” Wade told Metro US while promoting season nine, “We’ve kept the best stuff to the last.”

It is a testament to Wade’s success as an angler that the show has been able to find nine seasons worth of material. He has continued to deliver catch after catch and has inspired anglers from around the world.

One of Wade’s most impressive feats was catching a massive arapaima in Guyana using just a fly fishing rod. Most of these rods are constructed for smaller, tamer species like the bass or salmon found in Oregon. The arapaima hooked in the season six episode weighed well over 100 pounds and could have snapped the flimsy nylon line at any moment during Wade’s battle with the South American river monster.

The production of “River Monsters” has resulted in various achievements in marine biology, too. Wade was the first ever to document the elusive Glyphis shark on camera. He has also tracked rouge bull sharks in Africa and nabbed box jellyfish to harvest their venom.

While Wade has brushed with death multiple times over the course of his career — even surviving a plane crash — arguably his most-dangerous adventure came in season five, when he ventured into Chernobyl in pursuit of a radioactive Wels catfish.

He even rescued a castaway on an uninhabited Australian island.

While some “River Monsters” purists might oppose some of the new antics the show has taken on — moving away from freshwater, sending Wade in a submersible, etc. — Wade the fish-whisperer continues to astound with his ability to reel in fish other anglers can only dream of attaining.

Watch Jeremy Wade discuss his most frightening catch below:

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Franklin is in his third year writing for the Daily Emerald. He covers a variety of beats: crime, campus planning, science & technology and campus culture.