As the summer beach season rages on, one of the most anticipated holiday weeks of the year is once again on the horizon. Museums, Discovery Channel fans, and shark aficionados all over the world will soon be celebrating the amazing pelagic creatures we know as sharks.
At the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, visitors are invited to kick off Shark Week with a big chomp on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The celebration will continue throughout the week as the first 50 people of each day, Aug. 3 – 9, will receive free MOSI admission when they buy a ticket to Sea Monsters Revealed.
Sea Monsters Revealed, the most comprehensive and interactive exhibition on the deep sea ever created, has recently added human anatomy specimens to the experience. The exhibit, which features the largest collection of plastinated deep sea creatures, has added human anatomy specimens, including a head, heart and lungs, to offer visitors a side-by-side comparison between humans and specific marine specimens to futher deepen their connection to life in the sea and to better understand their own bodies.
“Adding human anatomy specimens to Sea Monsters Revealed furthers the exhibition’s goal of bringing the life of the deep sea into clearer focus,” said John Zaller, the exhibition’s creator and the mind behind the Bodies exhibit. “By seeing the human form presented in this context, visitors will develop a more profound connection to the majestic and mysterious creatures of the deep and realize that we are not so different from them.”
The human anatomy specimens being added to the exhibition include a head, brain, heart, hand, stomach, intestines, a liver with gallbladder, and lungs. The lungs, for example, perfectly illustrate the similarities and differences between humans and marine life. Like fish, humans require oxygen to survive. Fish extract oxygen from water through their gills, while humans draw oxygen from the air we breathe. Given our different mediums containing oxygen, humans and fish have developed different methods for extracting it. A total of nine comparisons like this one are being added to the exhibition.
On Saturday and throughout the week, guests will be able to view real shark dissections in MOSI’s grand lobby. Additionally, Dr. Daniel Huber, shark expert, consultant for Discovery Channel, and University of Tampa professor, will be at MOSI to speak about some of the myths and mysteries associated with these fascinating creatures. Guests will be able to view the night sky over some of the world’s most active Great White Shark feeding grounds inside The Saunders Planetarium, and build their own Lego® sharks inside MOSI’s inventor’s studio, Idea Zone.
For an additional fee, guests can experience Sea Monsters Revealed, where they will see not only the outside, but also the inside of the most elusive aquatic life ever discovered, including a 15-foot-long mako shark, a pregnant silky shark, and an 18-foot-long, 3,000-pound whale shark.
“Sea Monsters Revealed continues to unveil the mysteries of the deep,” said Wit Ostrenko , President of MOSI. “The addition of human specimens adds the educational element of comparative anatomy to the exhibit, and allows visitors an opportunity to better understand their own bodies.”
Shark Week is included with MOSI admission and is free for members. Tickets for Sea Monsters Revealed are $18.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors (60+) and $12.95 for children (2-12). The first 50 people of each day during Shark Week, Aug. 3 – 9, will receive free MOSI admission when they buy a ticket to Sea Monsters Revealed.
In Sarasota, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium offers visitors a chance to learn about the latest findings in the field of shark science. Where better to learn true stories about our sharky neighbors than the nation’s only Congressionally Designated Center for Shark Research? That’s right: Mote is the only scientific organization to be designated as national shark experts!
Mote began studying sharks when we opened our doors in 1955. Today, many of the studies that our scientists currently conduct are highlighted through exhibits and special offerings in The Aquarium. During Shark Week, as well as every other day of the year, the facility offers special tours, encounters and exhibits that will brighten the day of every shark lover.
Guest are invited to learn more about these fascinating fish at our narrated shark feedings offered at 11 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These sessions are designed to give visitors more information about how we care for some of the ocean’s top predators and the training methods we use to make sure the resident sharks that live in our 135,000-gallon habitat are healthy and active.
In fact, Mote’s founding director, Dr. Eugenie Clark, was the first person to discover that sharks could be trained — information that she discovered during her groundbreaking research in the 1950s. Thanks to Dr. Clark’s efforts, people began realizing that sharks weren’t mindless eating machines — no matter what you see on TV!
If our training sessions don’t satiate you, learn more about shark biology, care, feeding and research during a Shark Encounter. This behind-the-scenes program is limited to just three guests and takes place atop the 135,000-gallon shark habitat.
During Shark Encounters, guests join Mote animal care experts at 10 a.m. to prepare brunch for our sharks and large fish, including blacknose, nurse and sandbar sharks, southern stingrays, tarpon, snook, goliath grouper and more.
Shark Encounters can be scheduled on most Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays and are $45 per person and are for ages 13 and older (guests younger than 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult). Advance registration is required and does not include the price of admission to The Aquarium. To schedule your Shark Encounter, call 941-388-4441, ext. 348 or email.
All visitors are welcome to search for shark’s teeth and more at Fossil Creek – our attraction that allows you to play marine paleontologist using a waterway and sieve to look for natural treasures in the sand. You can even take your finds home with you. Fossil Creek is located in The Aquarium courtyard behind the Ray Tray. The cost is $5.99 (plus tax) for a bucket of sand that you look through for your natural treasures. Each bucket contains a unique mix of real fossils. Dig in!
Next to Fossil Creek, step inside a Megalodon shark jaw for an unforgettable family photo op. Mote’s Megalodon shark jaw measures 10 feet wide and is a replica of a jaw from the largest shark species known to science. Megalodons could grow to 60 feet long and weigh an estimated 77 tons. These dominant marine predators died out about 2 million years ago. Visitors can pose for pictures inside the giant jaw and get prints on the spot in the Aquarium courtyard for just $5 (photos not included with Aquarium admission).
And last but not least, be sure to peruse our Aquarium gift shops for sharky souvenirs. From shark’s teeth to T-shirts and stuffed animals, Mote has something for every shark lover out there!
Many fans of the first major shark movie, JAWS, will recall that Dr. Hooper, portrayed by Richard Dreyfus, was a scientist who studied sharks. He was also interested in joining an expedition that spent time on the seas cataloging and researching the amazing creatures. On July 31, the nonprofit organization OCEARCH will begin their latest great white shark project, Expedition Cape Cod, which hopes to advance the research programs of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and many other researchers and institutions.
OCEARCH helps leading scientists attain groundbreaking data on the biology and health of sharks, supporting research on sharks’ life history and migration. Their research ship, the M/V OCEARCH, is a unique 126-foot vessel equipped with a custom 75,000-pound hydraulic lift and research platform. It serves as both mother ship and at-sea laboratory. OCEARCH is working with Landry’s Inc. to create a new curriculum for kids in grades 6-8 based on its Global Shark Tracker. Learn more about OCEARCH at: ocearch.org
The upcoming OCEARCH expedition taking place later this month will include Mote scientists Dr. Robert Hueter, Director of Mote’s Center for Shark Research — the only Congressionally-designated Center for Shark Research in the United States — and Dr. Nick Whitney, staff scientist and manager of Mote’s Behavioral Ecology & Physiology Program. The Mote researchers will be onboard for a portion of the expedition during August.
Dr. Whitney and his colleagues use cutting-edge technology to study fine-scale behavior and physiology in a variety of vertebrate animals. His research primarily focuses on sharks, but it also includes other aquatic and even land animals.
During the upcoming OCEARCH expedition, Whitney will tag great white sharks with accelerometers, which contain the same motion-sensing technology found in smart phones and the Nintendo Wii. These tags can detect each tail beat and body tilt of hard-to-study species like large sharks. During past expeditions led by OCEARCH, Dr. Whitney deployed the first-ever accelerometers on the dorsal fins of great white sharks in the wild. He has also deployed the first accelerometers on several other species of coastal sharks.
No matter how you chose to celebrate the lives of our friends the shark, be sure to support your local museum, aquarium, and natural areas. Perhaps you will become the next great marine biologist?
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