Sink your teeth into fun and facts all about sharks during Shark Week July 27-Aug. 2 at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Family-friendly programs, activities, crafts and displays portray the truth about these often misunderstood creatures, their essential role in the ocean ecosystem and the threats they face. Shark week activities are free with admission or membership.
Scheduled programs include Creature Connections that reveal the inside story on shark anatomy, close encounters with a bamboo shark, a chance to sharpen your wits and win prizes in a shark jeopardy quiz game, and divers swimming with sharks in the Living Shipwreck. Also see shark and stingray feedings.
Show your toothy grin inside the replicated jaws of a huge, now-extinct megalodon or pose precariously close to the snout of a great white shark – a life-size inflatable replica, that is — for a funny photo. Shake hands with mascot Friendly Finley. Bring the small fry for shark-themed crafts and hands-on activities in Discovery Classroom.
Shark Week is an engaging way for the Aquarium to tell the real story of what’s happening to sharks and how people can help brighten the grim outlook for the ocean’s top predators. Finning, over-fishing, pollution and other factors have caused shark numbers to decline worldwide. Scientists fear major shifts in the health of ocean ecosystems if populations of these top predators continue to wane.
About 50 of the more than 400 shark species worldwide frequent North Carolina waters. Look for three species of sharks in Aquarium exhibits. The fierce-looking sand tiger sharks, the fast-moving sandbar sharks and the curiously named nurse sharks all inhabit the Living Shipwreck.
For an overhead look at an shark feeding, sign up for the Shark Snack Behind-the-Scenes Tour on Tuesday and Friday – advance registration and additional fees are required for this special program. For a take-home treasure, stop by the Shark Tooth Creek fossil-finding adventure and see what sorts of shark teeth turn up when you run your bucket of sand through the sluice. Shark Tooth Creek requires an additional fee.