Throughout history, sharks have often exuded a somewhat mysterious and elusive persona. Sure, one might see a nightly news report during the summer months that features the eerily familiar scene of sharks swarming near a seemingly joyful group of swimmers and beach goers. Rarely, however, does one get the opportunity to view sharks outside of their natural environment.
The instinctual curiosity of these amazing creatures is apparent every year. Weeklong shark week celebrations gain national attention and become the topic of office water cooler conversation.
Undoubtedly, the interest remains throughout the year as more attention is focused on how to protect and preserve the world’s oceans that are crucial to sharks’ survival.
In fact, sharks are some of the most misunderstood species in the animal kingdom. They have lived on the earth for more than 400 million years, making them older than dinosaurs. More than 400 species of sharks live worldwide, and they range in size from just six inches to 60 massive feet in length and can be found from the coastal shallows to deep oceans.
It may come as a surprise that shark attacks in the wild are extremely rare and that humans are much more dangerous to sharks. In fact, you are more likely to be injured by a dog, a ladder or even a toilet than a shark! On the contrary, shark species are vulnerable to overfishing by humans. While shark fishing is managed well in the United States, overfishing and finning of sharks often goes unregulated in other countries, contributing to the decline of many shark species.
May 9 marks the largest enhancement to the South Carolina Aquarium’s guest experience since the aquarium opened its doors in 2000. Shark Shallows features an impressive 20,000-gallon touch tank designed especially for elasmobranchs, the scientific subclass that includes sharks, rays and skates. The residents of Shark Shallows will include bonnet head sharks, cow nose rays and nurse sharks.
Shark Shallows’ key feature, a figure eight-shaped tank, features a deep area with a viewing window where the animals can swim uninterrupted and a shallow area where guests have the opportunity to reach out and touch them. Shark Shallowsis located outdoors on the aquarium’s Riverside Terrace and is accessible throughout the year. Get ready to come closer than ever before to these amazing animals!
Arkansas State University
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