Shedd Aquarium, home to nine species of sharks, invites guests to dive deeper this Shark Week (July 23-29) by learning more about these magnificent predators. Shark residents at the aquarium, from the bonnethead shark, the smallest species in the hammerhead family, to the spotted zebra shark, all have unique adaptations and roles to play in our earth’s ecosystem. Guests can visit Shedd and these sharks to learn more about why many are not only misunderstood but facing threats of extinction – and how to help protect these critically important animals for the health of the blue planet we all call home.
Few sharks or rays (sharks’ close cartilaginous relative) are a threat to people, and their size and behaviors can differ greatly (sharks’ length can range from 8 inches to 40 feet!). Several species of sharks and rays are apex predators at the top of the food chain – making them necessary for keeping ecosystems and other species’ populations in balance.
Of the 1,000 species of sharks and rays across the globe, more than 100 are endangered, with even more at risk of becoming endangered. Learning about these animals’ critical role in ecosystems – and sharing this knowledge – is the first step to supporting their conservation.
Beyond coming face-to-face with sharks at Shedd in Caribbean Reef, Oceans and Wild Reef galleries, below are some ways guests can dive deeper this upcoming Shark Week and beyond:
Guests join the sharks and rays for brunch in this 75-minute front and behind-the-scenes feeding tour. Starting with an in-depth look at Wild Reef, which will transport them 8,000 miles to an exuberant Indo-Pacific reef, guests will enter the animal-care area to witness mealtime with the ocean's most dynamic and misunderstood predators. Participants will also learn how the animal care team prepares diets of restaurant-grade seafood for each species. There may even be opportunities to feed some of the other fish.
- Dates: Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 10 a.m.
- Cost: Adults $94.95, Child (6-11) $84.95, Members $75.95.
- Age: Participants must be 6 years and older, and guests between the ages of 6 and 17 must be accompanied by a paying adult participant.
In this multisensory film experience, guests come face to face with some of the world’s most strange and mysterious shark species. This approximately 15-minute film shares information in an exciting narrative format about these extraordinarily intelligent underwater giants, which each exhibit unique behaviors to navigate their ever-changing environment.
- Dates: 4-D experiences take place every day when the aquarium is open throughout the day.
- Cost: $4.95 per guest, $2.95 per member.
Guests can feel even closer to sharks in a 360-degree, 3-D live-action journey into virtual reality with marine biologists of the Bimini Shark Lab in search of the mythic underwater strip called Tiger Beach. Participants learn about the behaviors of tiger and hammerhead sharks after hopping in a pod, strapping on their goggles and swimming alongside these fascinating animals.
- Dates: Virtual Reality experiences take place every day the aquarium is open throughout the day.
- Cost: $15 per guest, $11 for members.
Did you know that stingrays are close relatives of sharks? Like sharks, they do not have bones – instead, they are both cartilaginous fish, meaning their bodies are supported by the same material in the tip of human noses. Guests can connect with cownose rays directly by gently touching their backs as they glide by in this outdoor exhibit. Guests may also have the opportunity to help feed these pancake-like shark relatives during select times.
- Dates: Stingray Touch, an outdoor exhibit, is open seasonally. Guests may have an opportunity to help feed the stingrays between 9 a.m.-2 p.m. during general admission days.
- Cost: Stingray Touch is included in general admission. The cost to participate in feeding the stingrays is $5 per guest or $4 per member.
STANDING UP FOR SHARKS
There are many ways guests can act locally to help stand up for sharks across the globe:
- Make conscious choices when purchasing seafood; when possible, choose sustainably sourced seafood that helps to preserve vital ocean resources and food sources for sharks and other marine residents.
- Receive real-time actionable items delivered straight to inboxes by signing up for Surge, Shedd Aquarium’s digital conservation community.
- Further Shedd’s overall mission by becoming members. While getting exclusive benefits, members help fuel the important work the aquarium does to save species, conserve biodiversity and protect our blue planet.
VISUALS: High-Resolution visuals of the sharks and rays at Shedd are available for download: https://personal.filesanywhere...
Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/ Brenna Hernandez
Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/ Sam Cejtin