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The Real Reason William Shatner Faced A Shark Without Chain Mail - Exclusive

Sharks may not always be intentionally dangerous predators when it comes to humanity, but after decades of Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" frightening audiences as one of the first-ever summer blockbusters, a fear of sharks is ingrained into our collective subconscious. And it's not entirely undeserved — some sharks are dangerous to humans. That is why, typically at least, when you see documentary films and TV series dealing with sharks, it's not uncommon to see divers taking some measures to protect themselves. In some cases, you'll see divers hanging out inside of a cage. In lieu of a cage (and with less dangerous sharks), you will sometimes catch people wearing a kind of chain mail — like a knight, but a knight who is staving off underwater menaces.

Such was the case with the second of three dives in "Expedition Unknown: Shark Trek," a special episode of the Josh Gates-hosted series specially filmed for shark week. Gates has a special co-host for this event — "Star Trek" and "TJ Hooker" star William Shatner. It turns out that Shatner, like so many people, has a fear of sharks — a fear that Gates wants to help Shatner overcome. Over the course of their adventures, Gates and Shatner meet with a number of shark experts as well as some real life sharks. During one quest, Gates is fitted with chain mail.

William Shatner did not wear any chain mail, though. What's up with that? Looper sat down with William Shatner for an exclusive interview to get the real story about why greater measures weren't taken to protect a national treasure.

No chainmail? Easy. No cage? That's another story

"They didn't provide me [a chain mail suit]," Shatner revealed of his experience coming face to face with his pointy-toothed fear. "I don't know whether they didn't provide me with chain mail or they thought I won't need chain mail, but how could they surmise that?"

During "Expedition Unknown: Shark Trek," there's another bit where Shatner is told that he will be meeting tiger sharks (one of the most dangerous sharks in existence) without the use of a cage. Shatner's response during the show is, "No cage, no Shatner."

Because the whole experience is filmed, including both William Shatner and Josh Gates hashing out the cage situation over a drink, the assumption most people would make is that this is all a setup for a bit. And while the exchange does establish the story behind why there won't be a cage between Shatner and the tiger sharks, Shatner insists he really was told he'd have a cage when the idea was originally pitched to him.

"It wasn't a bit because when we were planning it, I said, 'Well, how do I go down,'" Shatner explains. "They said, 'Well, you get a cage.' And then I don't think it was on in production time. I think it was probably before we started production. They said, 'Well, no, there's no cage.' And I thought, 'Wow, no cage, what do we do?'" What they did instead was utilize a new technology that sends a signal out to sharks telling them to keep away — a technology, according to the show, that's still under development, and could be used to protect sharks from entering large areas where they (or others) might find themselves in danger.

"Expedition Unknown: Shark Trek" is available to stream on Discovery+.