Sharks are a fascinating subject to provoke public interest and excitement, and Shark week is one of the most alluring events of the year!
Shark Week initially debuted 27 years ago on the Discovery Channel. Though not stamped with official recognition, this event is once again making its annual stir. First aired on July 17, 1988, this is the longest running cable television programming in history and is broadcast in more than 70 countries.
Featuring sharks as the most feared creatures of the sea, the Discovery Channel series was developed to raise awareness and educate viewers. This week’s annual presentations began yesterday featuring, what else, but the sensational and “deadly” Great White Shark. Additional episodes are scheduled daily through Saturday August 16th. At least one episode will also feature another thrilling behemoth, the Hammerhead Shark.
Sharks do not have an actual day, week, month, or year dedicated to them, at least not yet. In contrast it’s amazing how many dates are designated for all sorts of other creatures. There are International Polar Bear and Tiger Days; World Cat, Elephant, Turtle, and even Mosquito Days; National Dog and Honey Bee Days, and how about a Rabbit awareness week. But thanks to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, these incredible animals are annually brought to the forefront of our attention.
To step up the shark game, many public aquariums are participating this week to feature dozens of different types of shark species. Attractions include everything from live shark aquarium exhibits, expert shows and a variety of presentations, and live touch tanks to overnight adventures sleeping under massive shark aquariums. There are some that feature indoor shark exhibits with photography, art, films and 4-D movies. Some of the aquarium exhibits will feature keepers diving with sharks and some offer shark dives for visitors, some offer behind the scenes tours, and some allow guests to feed the sharks.
Take your shark experience to a more personal, interactive level with a visit to a public aquarium.
Here’s a list of 18 aquariums across the United States that are offering live “Shark Week” experiences, starting with the coastal to interior western hemisphere, then the coastal to interior eastern hemisphere:
- Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
Featuring the “Passages of the Deep” exhibit, a series of underwater walkways, the “Open Sea” is the longest tunnel, representing the world’s largest environment. This area is alive with five species of shark including their largest specimen, the Broadnose Sevengill Shark along with Leopard, Soupfin and other sharks.
- Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Bay’s Aquarium features Sevengill Sharks viewed through the “offshore tunnel” and touch pools where you can gently touch Leopard Sharks.
- Sea Life Aquarium, Carlsbad, CA
Featuring the “the Lost City of Atlantis” exhibit, a 200,000 gallon ocean display with a 35-foot-long ocean tunnel, that display features more than 50 sharks including Zebra Sharks, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, White Spotted Bamboo Sharks and Port Jackson Sharks.
- Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Draper, UT
This aquarium features 7 different species of sharks including Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, and Zebra Sharks.
- Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium, Las Vegas, NV
Features a 1.3 million gallon shipwreck exhibit where visitors experience an almost 360-degree view, teeming with sharks and fish, through an acrylic tunnel. It houses 15 species of sharks including Blacktip Reef Sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Bonnethead Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Zebra Sharks, White Spotted Bamboo Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks and Lemon Sharks.
- Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, Riverhead, NY
This aquarium features a 120,000-gallon “Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit” where you can experience a Shark Dive. They put you inside a cage right in the middle of circling sharks and an array of fish.
- Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Pittsburgh, PA
Features the “Water’s Edge Tunnel” where keepers will dive each day during Shark Week with Sand Tiger Sharks while visitors watch from beneath.
- Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ
This aquarium has the largest collection of shark species on the East Coast with 2 awesome exhibits. It features the “Ocean Realm” exhibit with 760,000 gallons of seawater with massive sea turtles, stingrays and a diverse collection of sharks including the Blacknose Shark, Blacktip Shark, Silky Shark, and Zebra Shark (nicknamed “Leopard” Shark due its juvenile stripes). It also has the rare and mysterious Great Hammerhead Shark, the largest of all the Hammerhead species. In fact, this facility is currently the only aquarium in the country to exhibit them!
The “Shark Realm” exhibit has 550,000-gallons of water with a floor-to-ceiling “Shark Den” viewing window and a 40-foot underwater tunnel with over 25 sharks including Sand Tiger Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Nurse Sharks and more.
- National Aquarium, Baltimore MD
Features the “Blacktip Reef” exhibit, with Blacktip Reef Sharks of course!
- North Carolina Aquariums
North Carolina Aquarium, Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Features 4 species of sharks commonly found native waters including: Sand Tigers, Bonnetheads, Nurse Sharks and Sandbar Sharks.
North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island, Manteo, NC
Here you can dive in the 285,000-gallon “Graveyard of the Atlantic” exhibit with Sand Tiger, Sandbar and Nurse Sharks.
- South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, SC
This aquarium has an impressive two-story 385,000-gallon “Great Ocean Tank” exhibit with sharks and a 220-pound Loggerhead Sea Turtle. They feature a dive show about sharks and you can take pictures at the aquarium’s shark cage.
- Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta GA
You can walk through an acrylic tunnel or stand in front of a gigantic acrylic viewing window of the “Ocean Voyager” exhibit. This is a 6.3 million gallon exhibit with 4 Whale Sharks. These are the largest fish species in the world and this exhibit was specially designed to house these huge sharks.
- Ripley’s Aquarium, Myrtle Beach, FL
Featuring the “Dangerous Reef” exhibit with a moving 340-foot long glide path that winds through an acrylic tunnel where you can see Sandtiger, Sandbar, and Nurse Sharks.
- Florida Aquarium, Tampa, FL
Their largest tank is the “Coral Reef Exhibit” teeming with massive sharks, moray eels, barracuda, a green sea turtle and more. Sharks include the Nurse Shark, Tasselled Wobbegong Shark, Salmon Shark, Thresher Shark, Gulper Shark, Goblin Shark, Bonnethead Shark, Sandtiger Shark, Sandbar Shark, Blacktip Reef Shark, and White-spotted Bamboo Shark.
- Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL
This aquarium features 2 exhibits with sharks. The “Caribbean Reef” exhibit has a small shark or two but it’s the “Wild Reef” that is home to most of their sharks, stingrays and live coral.
- Newport Aquarium, Newport, KY
This aquarium features over 15 species of sharks from oceans around the world, including Sand Tigers, Sand Bars, Black-tips and White-tips.
- Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, TN
The “Secret Reef” exhibit features 10-foot Sand Tiger Sharks and sleek Sandbar Sharks.
- Oklahoma Aquarium, Jenks, OK
Features the “Ray & Robin Siegfried Families Shark Adventure” where a walk-through tunnel and dome allow you to see the Mammoth Lemon, Sand Tiger and Nurse Sharks, and the biggest Bull Sharks in captivity.
Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.