It's FINally Time! A Diver's Eye View of Ocean Wonders: Shark
Today is the official public opening of the brand new Ocean Wonders: Sharks exhibit at the New York Aquarium. I am so excited for you to see it! Since 2012, I have been privileged enough to be part of the New York Aquarium Volunteer Dive Team. As a member of the team, I work twice a month helping to clean exhibits, talk to visitors, help out with anything the staff needs (particularly underwater tasks), and to help spread the message of conservation.
I've also had a diver's eye view of Ocean Wonders from the ground-breaking to the opening. I've watched the building go from imagination to reality. Until Ocean Wonders: Sharks opened, we couldn't share any photos, so I decided to wait until the official opening to share a little bit about Ocean Wonders (and so I could show you photos!).
Remember: the only thing more awesome than a shark... is a LOT of sharks!
Ocean Wonders: Sharks has been a long time in the making. It had already been planned for a long time at the aquarium, but Hurricane Sandy set those plans back as the aquarium had to focus on the health and well-being of its animals in the wake of the devastation and havoc caused by the hurricane. The aquarium suffered significant physical damage due to the flooding after Sandy. So, repairs were the first priority! I know that all of our visitors have been excited to see the building (and so have we!).
I also can't tell you how hard the staff at the New York Aquarium has worked since Hurricane Sandy. They have worked tirelessly, round the clock, to ensure the protection, health, and well-being of all the animals. They have also worked tirelessly to get Ocean Wonders: Sharks ready for you. There's a lot that goes into building an exhibit from planning what will be in there to how the animals will interact to moving the animals into the exhibits. It's a pretty amazing process (but more on that later).
Everyone--the staff, the volunteers, and the public--have all practiced patience. And now it's here!
Ocean Wonders will introduce you to sharks. Sharks, sharks, and more sharks! You're going to see small sharks, big sharks, and sharks you didn't even KNOW are sharks! But, more importantly, a large part of the new building focuses on local waters. Many people forget that New York City is an island surrounded by waters rich with marine life. You'll get to meet some of your neighbors.
I am often asked, as a diver, if I'm afraid I will be bitten by a shark. I often respond by saying that what's more frightening is when I dive in the ocean and don't see sharks. As apex predators in the ocean, sharks should rule the waters. Instead, sharks are being killed from overfishing, ignorance, and environmental pollution. Their food supply is also being overfished. Fewer small fish in the sea mean fewer sharks. Sharks are in danger. And, humans and sharks are intimately connected. A healthy ocean has healthy sharks.
In Ocean Wonders, you'll learn a lot about why shark conservation is essential to a healthy ocean. And, a healthy ocean means a healthy planet. So, you'll also be learning why you want to thank a shark for making our world a better place.
One of the great things about the new building is that there are breathtaking views of sharks everywhere you turn. But, make sure to take time to play (yes, I mean play!) with the hands-on educational exhibits. Here, you move from observing sharks to really learning about them. The educational material is fantastic & really fun. You'll learn about shark pregnancies, about how to tag and monitor sharks just like shark scientists, about how you can do your part to help ensure a healthy ocean.
The goal of Ocean Wonders: Sharks is to help you discover, connect, & inspire you to be a part of shark conservation. Too many people think sharks are terrifying (in large part thanks to the legacy of the movie Jaws). I can't wait to see what you think about all of these sharks. This new exhibit will allow you to get up close to them, almost as close as we get to them as divers. I think you'll also be surprised by the range of sharks, from small horn sharks to bamboo sharks to the big sand tiger and sandbar sharks. This is an opportunity to see sharks in a new way. I hope you'll look at them and your jaw will drop because they're so amazing from the way they glide through the water to the way they use their senses to detect what's in the water with them. They're smart. They're powerful. They're majestic. They're awe-inspiring. And they're essential to the survival of the planet.
I've written about sharks, and the New York Aquarium before, so have a look back at why we need sharks!
I know you're going to love it. So... without further ado, here is a look at the new building and its many views of sharks! (Photography Note: These are all iPhone photos, so they are not my usual quality. That said, Ocean Wonders: Sharks is very dark to simulate depth. I didn't want to use a flash to disturb the sharks, so my iPhone was the best option. I promise it will look even more STUNNING in person!). And, it's not *really* a diver's eye view. But, Ocean Wonders brings you so close to the animals and gives you such stunning views, it's almost a diver's eye view. ;-)
Liz's Sharktastic Tour of Ocean Wonders! (But it's just a taste to get you excited. Come visit!)
And yes, I've already been in Canyon's Edge (and the Coral Tunnel and the Shipwreck exhibit). Here's a quick look at the Dive Safety Officer and me observing the sharks and making sure the windows are spiffy.