Who’s excited about SHARK WEEK?
To get you ready, we wanted to share our experience feeding sharks at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium. When we heard about the Animal Encounters Program, where you can choose to feed stingrays, sea turtles, or sharks, we knew this was the perfect local adventure for us!
It started with a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium to see how the entire place runs. Ever own a personal home aquarium with a filtration system? Well, this is their filtration system:
After we grabbed shark food, we headed above the largest tank where they showed us how to feed the Zebra Sharks! Using a long feeding tong, we waited at the signal station for the sharks and handed them mackerel as they came up. You could feel them suck it out of the tongs.
Pictured above is a white tip shark! See some that we’ve seen in the wild in the Galapagos here.
It’s completely safe as long as you follow the rules and stay behind the bars as they ask, but I was still anxious that I might be suddenly overcome with vertigo and fall into the tank. Luckily, this has never happened. My imagination likes to run wild. I also imagined we would be handing the food right to their mouths, but I suppose that’s not too safe either. After this experience, I wasn’t as afraid of these big, bad sharks and actually grew quite fond of the zebra sharks we fed!
10 Fun Facts and Tips for Feeding Sharks at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium:
- Each type of shark in the tank is trained to feed at a certain area signaled by lights or colors.
- 3 ft of concrete keep the 1.3 million gallon tank contained.
- The biggest shark here is a 9 ft Sand Tiger Shark.
- Learn why Great White Sharks cannot and should not be kept in captivity here.
- The aquarium uses artificial coral for conservancy purposes. The fish don’t seem to mind and fish that eat coral are supplemented with other food.
- Large sharks are fed 3 times a week. Zebra sharks are fed 5-6 times a week.
- The reason we fed zebra sharks is because they are easier to feed. The others are less predictable and the staff have to work harder to monitor their diets.
- Zebra sharks are born with stripes, but as they become adults the stripes turn into spots.
- The Animal Encounters program also included photos from your experience and admission into the aquarium, which I will be posting about next week!
- The cost is $70 per person, and you can book your shark feeding here.
This experience was a lot of fun! Though I’ve heard some Aussies say it’s no biggie to see sharks while surfing, I would be terrified if I had a shark encounter while swimming in the ocean with nothing to separate us. They are pretty fascinating to watch and feed from a safe distance though. Next, we’ll have to try cage diving with sharks!
Happy shark week!