It’s the 27th annual “Shark Week” on cable’s Discovery Channel. (You may have noticed that The Maritime Aquarium is the local sponsor of “Shark Week” on Cablevision!)
Although the original intent of “Shark Week” was to share helpful educational information about sharks, some of the programming seems to have slipped toward the over-hyped and dramatic and scary (and, in the case of Sunday night’s big kickoff, fictional and silly).
We’ll use the themed week to offer some not-so-terrorizing – and true – insights into the sharks living at The Maritime Aquarium.
The Big Shark Misconception
Here’s one of the most common comments from visitors when they get close to the sharks in The Maritime Aquarium’s “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit: “Boy, imagine being in there with them!”
Clearly, from the fear and awe and wonder in their tone, they believe that being in the exhibit would be a death sentence; that the sand tiger sharks and lemon shark would tear them apart.
To prove them wrong and dispel that myth, we regularly drop divers in with the sharks. Six times each week, in fact … at 12:15 & 2:15 p.m. most Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The divers always climb out with all their limbs and fingers and toes.
Despite what you may have seen on “Shark Week,” sharks are not the blood-thirsty man-eating creatures of myth. Of the 400-some shark species, only about 10 account for the majority of attacks on people.
We are much more dangerous to sharks. Worldwide, we kill millions of sharks each year, to the point that many species’ populations have been reduced by more than 90 percent. Removing so many “apex” predators will have a serious ripple effect on the ocean environment for years and years.
That’s the message you’ll hear from our volunteer divers, who are wired to be able to speak with you from inside the 110,00-gallon “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit. They’ll tell you all about the sand tiger sharks, which – at generally 7 to 9 feet long – are the largest of the shark species native to Long Island Sound. (The last shark attack in the Sound, by the way, was in 1961.)
Our seven sand tiger sharks display little interest in the Aquarium’s volunteer divers. Still, the divers are wisely cautious and respectful. If a shark gets a little too close, the divers may use T-shaped “tickle sticks” to nudge it away.
Visit The Maritime Aquarium on one of our shark-dive days. What questions will you ask the divers?