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The Vancouver Aquarium's Secret World of Sharks and Rays

Photos by Kelly J Marion -- follow her at @kellyjean247

When many people think about sharks the movie Jaws comes to mind, with the anticipation of the bite and the daunting music bringing forth feelings of angst. Mike McDermid, Ocean Wise Manager at Vancouver Aquarium, said it is simply misunderstanding that causes terror. Once people know the facts about this fascinating creature then this fear can and should subside.  Secret World of Sharks and Rays introduces sharks in ways that are truly amazing.

 Fourteen different sharks have been found in BC – some are visitors but seven of them live here, including the Pacific spiny dogfish and the endangered basking shark.

To further your experience, you can watch a diver get up-close-and-personal with a zebra shark and whiprays during a dive show in the Tropic Zone. I wasn't able to see this when I visited. It was the day before the feature officially opened, but I was able to observe  a live shark feed. There's a raised ledge that allows children to be fascinated by this exhibition without their parents having to hoist them up. I met a few kids who varied in reactions from bewildered and awe-struck to afraid but curious. 

Although a huge fan of the Blue-spotted fantail rays, I was fascinated by the tasselled wobbegong, an odd-looking shark with a lattice-like beard. It is nocturnal, an ambush predator and it's name literally means 'well fringed nose with shaggy beard'. 

Throught this feature they strive to raise awareness about the threats these fishes face and the rapidly decreasing rates we are seeing globally; overexploitation and pollution pose serious threats to both sharks and rays. In addition to building awareness the feature provides an inside look into ways that humans can help protect these incredible animals in the wild. 

The Secret World of Sharks and Rays runs from February 7 to April 30, and explores the lifestyles of sharks, skates, rays and ratfishes, including those listed below. 
  • Blacktip reef sharks
  • Whitespotted bamboosharks
  • Southern Stingray
  • Whiprays
  • Zebra shark
  • Ocellated freshwater stingrays
  • Tiger stingrays
  • Xingu River rays
  • Blue-spotted fantail rays
  • Epaulette sharks
  • Tasseled wobbegong
  • Pacific spiny dogfish
  • Spotted ratfish
“We are excited to introduce guests to these intriguing and often misunderstood creatures,” says Clint Wright, senior vice-president and general manager of the Vancouver Aquarium. “Whether you’re curious about their hunting strategies or the human activities that put these creatures at peril, or if you’d simply like to be awed by their magnificence, The Secret World of Sharks and Rays has something for everyone.”


Learn more at www.vanaqua.org.

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