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Sharks swim into spotlight at Aquarium of the Pacific

May 20, 2009 | 10:09 am

Bonnethead shark At a time when days are getting warmer and more people are venturing into the ocean, sharks are swimming silently into the spotlight.

The remarkable predators, which are so notorious yet so misunderstood -- and sadly embattled because of overfishing --will be featured at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach during what is billed as "Shark Summer."

The waterfront facility has added new species of sharks and rays and will offer an array of programs, including a lecture series that begins Thursday night with Chris Lowe, who runs the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, dispelling myths and misconceptions. That talk, from one of Outposts' favorite shark sources, is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The cost is $8 or $4 for members, and free for students with valid ID. To RSVP, call (562) 590-3100.

Shark Summer officially begins Friday and runs through Sept. 7. On Sunday nights, the aquarium will remain open until 10 p.m. On Sundays in July, it will feature free Discovery Channel "Shark Week" screenings on the front lawn. On July 17, a "Feed a  Shark" program begins. It will enable members of the public an opportunity to feed sharks from a platform above the Tropical Reef Habitat exhibit.

There's much more, and it's hoped that people will come away with an appreciation of all sharks, large and small. Among my favorite aquarium residents is the sand tiger shark pictured below. Despite their fearsome appearance, these sharks pose little or no threat to humans and feed mostly on small fish, rays, other sharks and crustaceans.

-- Pete Thomas

Sand Tiger Shark

 Upper photo: Bonnethead shark. Credit: Andrew Reitsma

Lower photo: Sand tiger shark. Credit: Robin Riggs