Let the viewing marathons and drinking games begin. If you haven't been keeping tabs on the Shark Week Countdown, then you should know that the Discovery Channel's annual homage to the ocean's delightfully scary apex predators kicks off this Sunday, August 12, just in time to help you get over your Olympics withdrawal.
First conceived back in 1988 in a push for summer viewership, Shark Week has burgeoned into a veritable pop culture phenomenon. Heavily promoted by Discovery on Facebook and Twitter, it has inspired legions of fans to create shark costumes, shark parties, shark food and shark memes.
The series' 1988 premiere doubled the network's primetime ratings and Shark Week has increased in popularity ever since, reaching more than 26 million people in 2011.
So what's with all the shark love?
"Besides the fact that sharks are just awesome?" Brooke Runnette, the special programs executive producer for Discovery, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"We don't do Grizzly Week, we don't do Lion Week. It's that sharks are profoundly mysterious and profoundly powerful creatures. They put us in our place on the food chain. That makes them endlessly fascinating," Runnette added.
So how can you best celebrate 2012's sharks-travaganza?
For starters, Discovery's Shark Cam will live stream video footage of sharks from inside the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga., where you can watch sharks and other fish cruise around underwater. Don't miss the live feedings at 10:30AM and 3PM every day during Shark Week.
Need food for your shark party? Pick up some shark cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C. Take the party up a notch with "Shark Week Song," by Marian Call.
Pick up a Shark Week movie. Besides the obvious favorite "Jaws," you might try checking out the Samuel L. Jackson vehicle "Deep Blue Sea," or for a more hipster shark experience, Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou."
Discovery Channel has a number of new programs on deck for this year, including Sunday night's "Air Jaws Apocalypse" which follows up on 2010's Emmy-nominated "Ultimate Air Jaws," as two men attempt to capture close-up video of a 4,000-pound great white shark named Colossus using a seal decoy.
There's also "Sharkzilla," "How 'Jaws Changed The World," and "Shark Week's 25 Best Bites." You can read the full listings here.
If deathly jaws aren't your thing, check out the softer side of shark week with this video of adorable baby animals wearing shark fins and licking fruit preservers off of humans.