MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH)– This is the week many have been waiting for. It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and Mystic Aquarium is hoping to use this week to educate people about these predators of the deep.
It was just a couple of weeks ago a huge Thresher Shark was caught off of Fisher’s Island, and a few weeks before that another mate on the BlackHawk Sport Fishing boat reeled in and released a juvenile Great White.
“Although they’re not here the entire year, they’ll definitely come and visit us,” said Mary Ellen Mateleska, who heads the education programs at Mystic Aquarium.
She says sharks visit when they’re following fish and sometimes seals which are their prey.
“We have at least a dozen sharks species that come right through our waters,” said Mateleska. “Most of them we never know that they’re here. But most of them are never bigger than me.”
They can be seen at the aquarium. Sand Tiger Sharks and the Nurse Sharks are in the Shark Lagoon, while three other species of small sharks are part of the new Shark Touch Habitat. Some sharks are very active.
As one of the Dusky Smooth Hounds or Smooth Dog Fish Sharks breached out of the water and swam around the Shark Touch Habitat, the staff member told the group “that’s a normal behavior. We call that spy hopping and they can see out of the water as well as in the water.”
Other sharks barely leave the bottom.
“Having more active sharks in one side and the more resting sharks on the other side, I think helps teach them about that diversity,” said David Cochran, who is the Curator of Fish & Invertebrates.
The exhibits are especially popular during what is now Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.
The aquarium has come up with virtual Shark Week events including a trivia challenge with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
“So you can play along,” said Mateleska. “You can cheer us on cause we’re gonna need all the help we can get.”
Plus there’s a link to shark themed Sea Crafts for the kids on Pinterest.
The aquarium hopes to educate people about the creatures of the deep and dispel any fears or misconceptions people may have.
“Most of the time they want absolutely nothing to do with us,” said Mateleska.
“I think what really surprises people is how slimy they feel,” said Cochran.
For more information on this week’s shark week virtual events, click here.