Surround yourself with sharks in this walk-through underwater tunnel.
One of the most popular attractions at the park is the Shark Experience, one of the first of its kind aquarium and walk-through underwater tunnel shark exhibits when it opened in 1992. The 300,000-gallon viewing gallery with floor-to-ceiling windows features a variety of shark species, including nurse shark, sandbar shark, Australian zebra shark and spotted wobbegongs, just a few of the over 380 known species of shark in the world. The sharks share the exhibit with other fish and stingrays.
At the Shark Experience, you’ll enter through a dark entryway that leads to an illuminated, crystal-clear tunnel, where you find yourself surrounded by sharks as they navigate overhead and alongside you. You’ll then make your way to the viewing gallery where you can observe the sharks and sometimes see our divers situated among them. The 12,000 square foot building also includes an education Discovery Gallery, where life-size shark specimens hang from the ceiling.
Though sharks are often viewed as fierce, aggressive creatures, they are seriously misunderstood. Despite their image, sharks are vulnerable, and many are harmless to humans. Sharks such as the sandbar shark, a classic-looking species found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Indo-Pacific regions are fairly large, with females as big as 150 lbs. But this species is slow to mature with a low reproductive rate, contributing to their vulnerability to threats such as commercial hunting and fishing.
Besides sport fishing and overfishing, the survival of shark species in general are threatened by finning – the practice of cutting off shark’s fins of live sharks for the Asian market-- drift nets, which kill millions of sharks by accident each year, and pollution and commercial development which threaten water quality and the fragile near-shore nursery grounds that many sharks rely upon.
Sharks are also killed for their parts, such as shark eyes for cornea transplants, shark cartilage for burn treatments and biochemicals, shark liver oil found in lipstick and other cosmetics, and shark jaws and teeth for jewelry and tools, in addition to the shark meat and skin used for other products.
How You Can Help: Refuse to buy any shark products; consuming shark steaks or shark fin soup. Avoid preparations made from shark cartilage. Avoid “tag and release” fishing trips during which sharks are only caught and tagged. Sharks can die during such actions, or may later be attacked by other sharks. Support organizations such as the Shark Foundation and Ocean Conservancy and others that actively protect shark species and their natural habitat.
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By Lakeside Pavillion and Seaside Junction