It’s one of the country’s fine traditions, combining two of our greatest national pastimes: television and Great White shark action. What’s not to love about Shark Week? Well, for one thing, you can’t get in on the action yourself. Unless, that is, you make your way to Shark Weekend, an annual event at the Downtown Aquarium, which takes place this year on July 15 and 16.
“It’s an opportunity to educate guests,” proving that sharks “are not scary, man-eating machines,” says Stephanie Rodgerson, the aquarium’s education manager. “They need our help.”
The demon spawn of the Discovery Channel’s infamous seven-day series (which is now almost 30 years old), Shark Weekend at the Aquarium is now in its 10th year of turning our fascination/terror of the much-misunderstood ocean creatures into a teachable moment—so we can better understand, appreciate and ultimately save the sharks, Rodgerson says.
This year, you can start off the day with a dive show put on by marine biologists and professional scuba divers, whose program Rodgerson promises will be “very interactive on the staff side.” (Translation: a special mask will allow one of the divers to talk to guests while underwater.)
Later in the day, don’t miss the live feedings: On Saturday, you’ll see meals served to a variety of fish, while thrill-seekers might want to postpone their trip until Sunday, when the alligators get theirs. Looking for something for the little ones? Check out an appearance by Sharkey the mascot followed by story time and arts and crafts.
On both days, you can stop by the Conservation Station, which Rodgerson calls the hub of the event. There, guests will be able to participate in activities, ask questions, complete a quiz to see what they’ve learned and win prizes.
“Make a whole day out of it,” suggested Wade Broussard, the Aquarium’s general manager. With so much to do and see, it’s no wonder that Shark Weekend is one of the attraction’s most popular events (with more than 1,000 tickets sold each year). So get there early and dive into the fun.