Forrest Galante was willing to go to the ends of the earth for Shark Week to determine if the Pondicherry shark was indeed extinct, as many scientists feared. Prior to Wednesday's Extinct or Alive: The Lost Shark premiere, the wildlife biologist and host of Animal Planet's Extinct or Alive opened up to PopCulture.com about his mission to the Indian Ocean in search of the shark last seen in the 1970s.
"Your odds of finding anything are one in a million," he said. "I like to flip that on its head."
While the last confirmed sighting of the Pondicherry shark was almost 50 years ago, reports pop up every couple of years of someone in a remote location catching one, Galante said, but with genetic proof needed to confirm an actual Pondicherry, it's been impossible to weigh the veracity of the claims.
To track down the truth, the adventurer told PopCulture.com he shot 24 hours a day for five weeks, getting chased by an elephant, almost getting bitten by a tiger shark and suffering through monsoonal rains with no camping gear. It's all worth it to get to the bottom of what happened to the Pondicherry.
"Once something's deemed extinct, it's given up on," he explained of the focus on funding research and protection for an animal's habitat. "I think the bigger picture is we know very little about the Pondicherry."
On an even grander scale, Galante sees "a message of hope and inspiring hope" in tracking down animals that might not be as extinct as we fear.
"We believe we’ve done so much damage to a species and its habitat that it’s gone forever ... but there's hope that the creature's still hanging on by a thread."
“These animals have a right to be here, and never giving up on them sometimes pays off," he added. "The takeaway message is to never give up on things, even when they seem hopeless."
The ending will have to remain a mystery for Shark Week fans until the special airs Wednesday, but Galante promises a wild ride for those who tune in.
“The whole special is fantastic — it really is an exciting adventure from start to finish," he teased. "But the ending will rewrite natural history as we know. “
Extinct or Alive: The Lost Shark airs Wednesday, July 31 at 8 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.
Photo credit: Discovery Channel