Going to an aquarium can often feel like going to a bakery; sure, everything looks great, but where’s the donuts? And as we all know, sharks are the donuts of the aquarium world. That’s just science.
Even if that comparison doesn’t make sense, there’s no denying that, when visiting an aquarium, the star of the show is a dedicated shark exhibit. People love sharks, even if that love comes from a deep fear of them.
However, by creating an education environment surrounding sharks that is both fun and engaging, aquariums can help pull back the veil on what sharks are and are not. Here are five of some of the top aquariums in the country to see sharks.
Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA
The Georgia Aquarium is one of the most distinguished of our country’s aquariums. They appear at the top of just about every list, and with good reason.
This time, it’s for their shark presentations, which is as impressive as you’d expect from them. Most of what visitors want to see from a “traditional” aquarium experience is simple to do.
Among the many exhibits and experiences that the Georgia Aquarium offers includes the massive Ocean Voyager gallery. Here, over 4,500 feet of viewing glass allows guests to see 6.3 million gallons of seawater, housing whale sharks, rays, and other species.
If staring in awe at one of the world’s largest exhibits isn’t enough, the aquarium offers separate dive programs. One of these programs puts you in the Ocean Voyager tank to actually swim among the ocean giants.
This dive program is the only one in the world that allows visitors to get this close to whale sharks. While the dive cost isn’t exactly cheap, it’s probably the only time you could ever see a whale shark this close. If nothing else, that’s ultimate bragging rights.
National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD
Baltimore is home to more than just football and cool-looking cakes. The National Aquarium is an impressive nonprofit aquarium features numerous exhibits and species and is certainly worth a visit in its own right.
But we’re here for the sharks, and they know it. That is why, if you’re headed to Baltimore, stop on into Shark Alley.
The great thing about Shark Alley is it doesn’t have your typical sharks in it. Sharks are always rad to see up close, but how many times can you see a Hammerhead Shark before it stops being cool?
The answer is never, but you get what I mean. Here, guests enter a ring-shaped exhibit with over 225,000 gallons of water and several different sharks.
These unique species include Largetooth Sawfish, Nurse Sharks, Sand Tiger Shark, Sandbar Shark, and more. Being able to stand right in front of all of these unique species is an incredible experience.
Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ
You may not immediately associate the words “adventure” and “New Jersey” together, but the Adventure Aquarium is among the best places to explore. This impressive aquarium boasts 2 million gallons of water, 8,500 species of animals, and diving mermaids!
In addition to being a short distance away from Downtown Philly, the aquarium is among the best facilities around. They’re among the few to have the incredibly rare Little Blue Penguins, an Amazon exhibit, and much more.
But you’re here for the sharks, and sharks they have. The Shark Zone houses 20 different species of sharks in a dedicated 550,000-gallon exhibit that surrounds viewers in an immersive viewing area.
They don’t stop there, however. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the Adventure Aquarium wants to get you even closer. In Zone A, families can pet sharks in the aptly named TOUCH A SHARK exhibit.
If you’d rather see than feel, they have you covered with another exciting shark attraction. Directly above the Shark Zone is the world’s longest suspended bridges above a shark exhibit, which is a really specific title to have.
Reaching 81 feet in length, this rope bridge has visitors walk just inches above the Shark Zone. Seeing sharks behind glass is cool and all, but when was the last time you walked above a Sand Tiger Shark?
Newport Aquarium, Newport, KY
Although just barely outdone, the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, has a Shark Bridge of their own. Just a few feet shy of tying for length, this 75-foot bridge is among the most popular aquarium attractions.
Similar to Camden’s shark bridge, this V-shaped rope bridge has guests venture across the shark exhibit, directly below in the tank. Although not quite as large, Newport Aquarium has a different honor.
Their shark exhibit, the Shark Tank Overlook, is the nation’s largest open-air tank displays. Whether you prefer to stay near the glass or venture up above, you’ll see over a dozen sharks, as well as other exciting marine life species.
If you’re headed to Kentucky and need to see more than just horses and bourbon barrels, a trip to the aquarium may be your next stop. You may even have an opportunity to spend the night!
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA
It’s hard to quantify what makes an exhibit the “best” for sharks. However, since other aquariums focus on immersion, the best in terms of numbers is saved for last.
The West Coast has a shark lover’s dream exhibit with the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Shark Lagoon. This sprawling display houses 150 sharks, and they even let you touch some of them!
Shark Lagoon is an outdoor attraction, probably because it’s a full 10,000-square-foot shark tank. This incredible display is more than just a passive viewing experience to boot.
Some exhibits offer interactive ways to learn about sharks. Some exhibits educate people on their eyesight, while others stick to how sharks feel their world.
They’ve done a great job of balancing the area, having dedicated “kiddie” exhibits along with general viewing areas. This is on my list for family adventures!
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