The weather in South Africa almost put a damper on Shark Week this year.

“The season never changed in South Africa so sharks didn’t do what they normally do,” shark week executive producer Paul Gasek said. Plans for well-known filmmaker Jeff Kurr to film a show about sharks there were subsequently scrapped.

With a cast that includes wild animals and filming subject to weather, Shark Week planning can be precarious, as Mr. Gasek knows well. From his home in Brewster, he leads planning and production for the Discovery Channel’s popular week of programs about all things sharks. Besides viewing all the shows when they come in, Mr. Gasek maps out a week of television that tries to balance adrenaline and information.

“I call it adventure science,” he said. “Not scripted, unscripted, but an idea driving it.”

This year the 29th annual Shark Week ran from July 23 to July 30. Mr. Gasek said it has evolved over time toward more detailed, educational programming. In the early years it was fascinating just to get a look at the sharks, he said. “Now it’s like what are sharks, how do they live, they’re more complex than we thought,” he said. “Are they really out to bite people, are they invading our waters or in fact are more and more people getting into their habitats?”

Shark Week executive producer Paul Gasek.

He continued: “People want to find out more about things. Not just adrenaline. A little adrenaline is a good thing but we don’t just do that . . . it’s got to be in service to a story.”

All the shows have Ph.D.s pursuing a scientific inquiry, he said. Several shows this year featured shark scientists in the field. Shark Vortex followed New England shark scientist Greg Skomal and cinematographer Joe Romeiro as they tracked mako sharks off Rhode Island, finally tagged a large, elusive white shark off Monomoy, and then found a juvenile porbeagle shark off Maine.

The show also explored the role of temperature in the lives of shark. Water temperature “is as solid and real to a shark as an island or shore,” Mr. Gasek said. “They are so sensitive to it.”

Shark Vortex also appeals to Mr. Gasek’s New England roots. He grew up in upstate New York and has spent time on the Cape since he was a child. He worked as a commercial fisherman out of Chatham for 12 years after college, then began television career, including working on the series Deadliest Catch for six seasons.

While he worked in the field for years, Mr. Gasek mostly works from home these days. Planning for Shark Week includes a lot of Facetiming and Skypeing, he said, and teleconferences with others in Los Angeles and New York.

Shark Week this year featured 18 original shows, from a much-publicized speed test between Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and a white shark to Sharks and the City: LA, which featured California State University Long Beach marine biology professor and SharkLab director Chris Lowe, a Vineyard native. The show followed Mr. Lowe’s investigation into the rising white shark population in Southern California.

What is it about sharks that gets viewers to tune into to an entire week of programming, year after year? “I think it must be said that there’s probably some atavistic fear of sharks,” Mr. Gasek said. “If you get in the water with a big shark, you’re number two in the food chain . . . that’s thrilling for some people, it’s frightening, its exciting.”

He added: “It’s okay to be nervous near a shark...they’re not fuzzy wuzzy.”

Creating Shark Week shows is a tough balance, Mr. Gasek said. He tries to avoid sensationalism or portraying sharks as murderous. At the same time, the cost and effort of producing television means the shows need to attract viewers — who will ultimately be exposed to more shark information.

Mr. Lowe said he understood the concerns. “It’s always tricky with Shark Week,” he said. “They always like to hype it up a bit. But as long as there’s good science behind it, good information, the public will hear past the ‘duh duh, duh duh, duh duh,’ and begin to understand and appreciate sharks.”

Soon work will begin on Shark Week 30. “Right now we’re fielding ideas,” Mr. Gasek said. One idea is a closer look at three juvenile male white sharks that have identical markings. “If you look at the pictures . . . they have to be related,” Mr. Gasek said. “So that was kind of a thrilling thing.” The Shark Week team might explore the sharks’ genetic relationship. Weather permitting.