Open 9 am - 9 pm (Late Close)
Night Dives: Illinois Resident Free Evenings are SOLD OUT today, Tuesday, July 16.

This Shark Week, Keep Sharks Swimming with Shedd Aquarium

These misunderstood predators are fascinating animals – yet they face critical threats in the wild

July 08, 2024

A sandbar shark swims through the water of Shedd's Wild Reef exhibit while surrounded by fish.

Before humans, dinosaurs or trees, there were sharks. This Shark Week (July 7-13) and Shark and Ray Awareness Day (July 14), Shedd Aquarium is raising awareness on how 450 million years later, over 500 species of sharks still inhabit our blue planet, yet the threat of extinction looms large. Several species of sharks and rays (sharks’ close cartilaginous relative) are apex predators at the top of the food chain, making them necessary for keeping ecosystems and other species’ populations in balance. Despite their enduring existence, 36% of shark species are considered threatened due to overfishing, habitat loss, persecution and climate change.

As the attention turns towards these impressive and misunderstood animals, Shedd Aquarium encourages individuals to join the “Keep Sharks Swimming” campaign and take collective action to protect and restore shark populations worldwide. Shedd offers a variety of ways to connect with sharks and rays, dive deeper to discover their unique adaptations and advocate for their protection.


The global abundance of sharks and rays has declined 71% over the last 50 years, primarily due to overfishing. Speak up with Shedd to raise awareness for global shark conservation and fisheries management by signing the Shark Trust’s digital Big Shark Pledge. The pledge demands that international governments deliver effective high seas fisheries management and ensure that all oceanic sharks can only be fished within science-based sustainable limits.


Spotted or striped, in constant motion or resting on a rock ledge, sharks come in all shapes and sizes and are found in every ocean throughout ranging habitats. At Shedd Aquarium, guests can come eye-to-eye with eight species of sharks that serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts and learn about their critical role in the aquatic world, the amazing adaptations that help them survive, and how everyone can play a part to keep sharks swimming.

During Shark Week (July 7-13), Shedd will host daily pop-up engagement activities about shark eggs in front of the Oceans gallery to surprise and delight guests, as well as Shark Chats in Wild Reef where guests can ask questions about the sharks who call Shedd home, from the graceful zebra shark to the camouflaging spotted wobbegong. As an added paid experience, guests can join the sharks and rays for brunch in a 75-minute front and behind-the-scenes Shark Feeding Tour. Guests can also virtually dive with sharks during their visit with a multi-sensory 4D Experience or immersive Virtual Reality exploring the natural habitats of these predators.


Overfishing can lead to imbalance in sharks’ ecosystems or the collapse of a species. Shedd Aquarium supports sustainable sourced seafood for the benefit of the ecosystem and all of us who rely on them, including sharks and people. Seafood is considered sustainable when it has a healthy population in the wild, is from a well-managed fishery and is caught or farmed using environmentally friendly practices.

Look for seafood rated Best Choices or Good Alternatives by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program or with certifications like the Marine Stewardship Council blue fish label. Shopping for fish caught locally, eating fish in season and eating a variety of seafood also relieves pressure on fish populations.


Support Shedd’s care for sharks, research and conservation efforts by visiting the aquarium, becoming a member or donating. Shedd researchers conduct field work and publish studies that help to inform protections for species such as sharks. Recently, Shedd researcher and volunteers aided in the analysis of over 1,500 hours of video survey footage to contribute to a critical global assessment of shark conservation management practices. This study found that conservation benefits are doubled in nations that incorporate both marine protected areas and limits on shark fishing through catch limits or gear restrictions.

Shedd is also involved in the StAR Project led by ReShark for endangered zebra shark populations in Indonesia. With over 60 global partners, this conservation effort strives to raise zebra shark pups in the care of accredited aquariums like Shedd and later release the pups into marine protected areas, ultimately to create self-sustaining populations in the wild.

VISUALS: Find high-resolution photos and broadcast quality video of sharks at Shedd here:

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium

Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin