Discover New Shark Secrets with Experts
Chattanooga, Tenn.– Guests experience a special thrill when they see one of the Tennessee Aquarium’s Sand Tiger Sharks up close. The Secret Reef exhibit, home to four of these big, toothy sharks, affords landlubbers the opportunity to really examine the way the shark’s eyes look back while they slowly cruise through the water.
Right: Sand Tiger Shark, photo by Todd Stanley
Sand Tiger Sharks, like almost all shark species, are declining rapidly in the wild. Once abundant in the temperate ocean waters of the world except the eastern Pacific, Sand Tiger numbers have been spiraling downward mainly because of pressure from fishing.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Fisheries Service, Sand Tiger populations along the U.S. east coast dropped 90 percent during the 1980s and 1990s before protections were put in place. “Sand Tiger Sharks are relatively easy to catch, but they reproduce very slowly,” said Jackson Andrews, the Aquarium’s director of husbandry and operations. “Females don’t reach reproductive maturity until they are five or six years of age. They reproduce every other year, and when they do reproduce, they have up to two pups at a time. So, it’s easy to see how their numbers have plummeted over time.”
Sharkfest also features a large collection of prehistoric Megalodon Shark teeth and a chance to meet the Chattanooga filmmakers who produced “Shark Clans,” a top-rated documentary about Great White Sharks that aired during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week 2015.
After feasting on facts while talking to shark divers underwater, kids can get a tough-looking temporary shark tattoo and a “shark hawk” or mermaid hairdo. The Sharkfest frenzy concludes with a tasty frozen treat from Coldstone Creamery.
Guests can register for Sharkfest online at: https://community.tnaqua.org/events/member-programs/summer/2016/shark-fest-2016
Fast Facts – “Ten Questions (and answers) about the Tennessee Aquarium’s Sharks:
The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $29.95 per adult and $18.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $11.95 per adult and $9.95 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $37.95 for adults and $26.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $32.00 per adult and $24.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.