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Shedd Aquarium Sharks Exhibits: What You Should Know

January 26, 2024 By CityPASS

Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is a marvel for marine life enthusiasts, and its Wild Reef section, featuring a stunning array of sharks, is a must-visit. The Shedd Aquarium sharks are not only a major attraction but also an essential part of the aquarium's ecosystem and conservation efforts. Let's dive into the world of these magnificent creatures and explore what makes them so fascinating.

Why Are Shedd Aquarium Sharks Exhibits So Popular?

The constant motion of sharks in the aquarium mirrors the dynamic life of their wild counterparts, offering a mesmerizing view into the natural behaviors of these creatures. The popularity of Shedd Aquarium's shark exhibits stems from their unique ability to bring visitors up close and personal with some of the most intriguing and misunderstood creatures of the ocean. The exhibits are designed to mimic the natural habitats of these sharks, offering a glimpse into the diverse and complex world they inhabit. The combination of education, conservation efforts, and the sheer beauty of these animals makes the shark exhibits at Shedd Aquarium a captivating experience for all ages.

What Shark Species Can You See in the Aquarium?

Shedd Aquarium's sharks are a testament to the remarkability of life in our oceans. From the Zebra Shark's graceful glide to the Leopard Shark's distinctive markings, each species provides a unique glimpse into the adaptability and complexity of shark life. The aquarium not only showcases these magnificent creatures but also plays a crucial role in educating you about the challenges sharks face in the wild. This section of the aquarium is more than just an exhibit; it's a journey into understanding the role sharks play in our world's oceans and the efforts needed to protect them.

Sandbar Shark

The Sandbar Shark, with its distinctive high dorsal fin, is a common sight in the Shedd Aquarium. Noted for their size and agility, these sharks are a prime example of the ocean's top predators. This species suffers from overfishing and illegal finning, so visitors are encouraged to explore the importance of preserving their natural habitats, which are crucial for their survival and the health of the ocean. Visitors also have an opportunity to learn about their migratory patterns

Zebra Shark

Zebra sharks, easily recognized by their unique patterned skin, are often found lounging on the ocean floor in the aquarium. Known for their docile nature, these sharks are particularly interesting for their dramatic transformation from striped juveniles to spotted adults, a fact highlighted by the educational materials at the exhibit. The aquarium also focuses on the zebra shark's role in maintaining the health of coral reefs and their vulnerability due to environmental changes.

Shedd Aquarium is involved in efforts to monitor and support zebra shark populations, providing perfect conditions for their growth and well-being. The adult zebra shark in the exhibit showcases the full growth potential of these species in a safe and nurturing environment.

Blacktip Reef Shark

Identifiable by the striking black tips on their fins, blacktip reef sharks are agile and interesting to watch. The exhibit showcases its pivotal role in maintaining the health of coral reefs, emphasizing the importance of these ecosystems to the survival of numerous marine species. Visitors are also educated on the threats these sharks face, such as habitat destruction and the impact of plastic pollution on habitats and survival.

Leopard Shark

Leopard sharks, named for their striking markings, exhibit a stunning combination of beauty and grace. Visitors can learn about their benthic feeding habits, which means they sift sediment from the bottom of the ocean and dig up clams from the sand. They play an important role in controlling their prey populations and maintaining a healthy balance in their natural habitats. The exhibit also highlights the importance of conservation efforts for these sharks, who aren't considered highly endangered, but they take a long time to grow to maturity, so they may suffer population changes due to a long life cycle.

Swell Shark

Swell sharks are known for their unique defense mechanism of inflating their bodies by bending themselves into a U-shape and swallowing a bunch of seawater. The exhibit educates visitors about this unique survival strategy and the species' reliance on kelp forest habitats, underscoring the importance of conserving these environments. Additionally, the exhibit delves into the swell shark's reproductive behavior, providing insights into the life cycle of these intriguing marine animals.

Whitespotted Bamboo Shark

The whitespotted bamboo shark, a smaller species, demonstrates remarkable adaptability in various habitats. The aquarium uses this species to highlight the diverse living conditions in which sharks can thrive and the importance of protecting such adaptable species. Furthermore, the exhibit discusses the challenges this species faces in the wild, including the impact of human activities on their natural habitats.

Horn Shark

Horn sharks, with their short, blunt snouts, are a peculiar and intriguing species in the aquarium. Their exhibit educates visitors about their nocturnal habits and their unique method of hunting for prey in the crevices of rocky reefs, providing a glimpse into the diverse hunting strategies of sharks. The aquarium also informs visitors about the conservation status of horn sharks and the significance of protecting their natural rocky reef habitats.

Spotted Wobbegong

Finally, the spotted wobbegong, with its camouflaged appearance, offers a unique chance to observe a master of disguise. The aquarium's exhibit highlights the wobbegong's role as an ambush predator, lying in wait for unsuspecting prey, a strategy that entertains visitors and demonstrates the diversity of hunting techniques in the shark world. The exhibit further educates visitors about the habitat needs and conservation challenges the wobbegong faces, emphasizing the importance of protecting the ocean floor ecosystems it inhabits.

Which Activities Does the Aquarium Offer in Wild Reef?

Shedd Aquarium's Wild Reef offers an array of activities that allow visitors to engage with the shark exhibits in immersive and educational ways. From guided tours that provide in-depth information about the species and their habitats to interactive sessions where visitors can learn about shark conservation efforts, there's something for everyone. The touch pools offer a hands-on experience, allowing guests to feel the texture of shark skin, while educational talks by experts provide insights into the life of these predators.

At Shedd Aquarium's Wild Reef, you can even embark on a unique 75-minute feeding tour, offering an in-depth exploration of the Indo-Pacific reef ecosystem. This immersive experience takes you behind the scenes to the animal-care area, where you'll witness the feeding of sharks and rays and learn about the preparation of their specialized diets. These tours offer a rare glimpse into the feeding routines and dietary needs of the largest shark species housed in the aquarium. The tour includes guided insights into the diverse inhabitants of the reef, from corals to the sharks themselves, and an exclusive look above the 400,000-gallon shark habitat. You'll even get to see positive reinforcement training in action.

Discover These Fascinating Predators With CityPASS® Tickets

To experience the wonder of Shedd Aquarium's shark exhibits and much more, consider using Chicago CityPASS® tickets. CityPASS® tickets offer a convenient and cost-effective way to explore the best things to do in Chicago, including Shedd Aquarium. With a CityPASS® ticket, you can dive into the world of sharks and explore the wonders of marine life without the hassle of long ticket lines and at a fraction of the cost. Discover the beauty and mystery of Shedd Aquarium sharks and make unforgettable memories.

Plan your visit with CityPASS® tickets and embark on an ocean adventure that will leave you awe-inspired and more informed about these incredible marine creatures.

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Header Image ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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