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.
“The popularity of Shark Week and the immense interest the public has in these fascinating animals gives us an opportunity to tell the real story of what is happening to sharks,” said Education Curator Windy Arey Kent. “Finning, over-fishing, pollution and other factors have caused shark populations to plummet worldwide. That can indicate big problems for ocean ecosystems.”
Shark Week activities, free with admission, include information on solutions. “We want to use this opportunity to let people know that while sharks face overwhelming obstacles, people have the power to help the ocean’s top predators each and every day,” she said. Scheduled programs include an auditorium Creature Connection that reveals the inside story on shark anatomy, a chance to sharpen your wits and win prizes in a shark jeopardy quiz game, divers swimming with sharks in the Living Shipwreck, and shark and stingray feedings.
Meet a young nurse shark in the Skate and Ray Encounters touch pool. Bring the small fry for shark-themed crafts and hands-on activities in Discovery Classroom 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. For funny photos, show your toothy grin inside the replicated jaws of a huge, now-extinct megalodon, shake fins with shark mascot Friendly Finley or pose close to the snout of a great white shark – a life-size inflatable replica, that is.
About 50 of the more than 400 shark species worldwide frequent North Carolina waters. Look for three species of sharks at the Aquarium. 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.