By: Sam Benshoof, INFORUM

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.

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