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About the 4-D Experience

Stunning 3-D and special effects place you right in the middle of the action as sharks reveal their hidden traits while roaming an eerily beautiful underwater landscape.

Come face to face with some of the world’s most strange and mysterious shark species. These extraordinarily intelligent underwater giants each exhibit unique behaviors to navigate their ever-changing environment. Essential to the fragile balance of our ocean’s health, Shark explores the complex nature of these magnificent creatures’ survival instincts.

Stunning 3-D and special effects place you right in the middle of the action as sharks reveal their hidden traits while roaming an eerily beautiful underwater landscape.

Now Playing at:
- Georgia Aquarium
- Museum of Science, Boston
- National Aquarium in Baltimore
- Texas State Aquarium
- John G. Shedd Aquarium

Coming Soon to:
- Downtown Aquarium. Denver
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Facts

Sharks don’t have bones. Instead they have a skeleton-like structure made entirely out of cartilage, which is the flexible stuff at the tip of your nose.

The mako is the fastest shark in the world – think a torpedo with teeth. It can sprint at 30mph (48km/h), although some makos have reportedly been clocked at 46mph (72km/h).

The great white shark is the world’s largest known predatory fish. They can detect one drop of blood in 25 gallons (100 litres) of water and can sense even tiny amounts of blood in the water up to 3 miles (5km) away.

The shark family tree has two branches – the other half of the family are the rays, which are flattened sharks.

Around 40% of shark species lay eggs, which come in all shapes and sizes. Other species, like the lemon shark, give birth to live young, just like humans. And others use a combination of the two methods, where the eggs hatch inside the mother’s uterus before she gives birth to live young.

The giant manta ray has the biggest brain of any fish.

The goblin shark is a living fossil, virtually unchanged for over 100 million years.

The largest fish in the world is the whale shark. They can weigh up to 20 tonnes and live for up to 60 years. Despite their size they feed mainly on plankton, the tiniest creatures in the sea.

Sharks have adapted to live in every ocean of the world.

Sharks

Shark

Epaulette

(Hemiscyllium ocellatum)

Diet

Feeds on crabs and worms.

Habitat

Found in shallow coral reefs and coastal waters around the north, east and west of Australia.

Fin-tastic facts

The Great Barrier Reef is a tough place to live, even for a shark. Extreme tides and high temperatures leave the reef as a series of rock pools at low tide. Bigger sharks are forced into deeper water, leaving the epaulette shark alone to exploit the riches of the reef undisturbed.

Unlike any other shark, the epaulette has an uncanny ability to walk. It uses its fins as prototype legs to crawl over the exposed reef between rock pools that contain its prey. But no shark can breathe out of water. This is not a problem for the epaulette shark though, as it can survive 60 times longer without oxygen than humans can!

In order to do this the little shark slows its breathing and heart rate and powers down its brain. These incredible physiological changes mean the epaulette shark has more time to hunt on the reef before the tide rises and the bigger sharks move back in. This shark is truly the master of the intertidal environment.

Shark

Great white

(Carcharadon carcharias)

Diet

Feeds on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, elephant seals and dolphins, but also fishes including sharks and rays.

Habitat

A species that lives in the upper 200 metres of the sea, inhabiting areas near shore and found mostly in temperate seas.

Fin-tastic facts

Often described as the ultimate shark, the great white needs little introduction. When hunting it relies on the element of surprise, ambushing its prey from below. The shark is warm-blooded and can accelerate to speeds of over 20mph, and the speed of an attack can often send the shark breaching spectacularly out of the water in pursuit of its prey.

But this much feared shark is also capable of complex social interactions. In areas where great whites gather, these sharks use subtle body language in order to communicate with each other. This prevents disputes over kills, personal space and dominance, where a serious injury from a bite could prove fatal to a shark. But by “talking it out” these clever sharks are able to work out who’s boss without ever having to touch one another. There’s more to this shark than its fearsome reputation.

Shark

Tasselled wobbegong

(Eurcrossorhinus dasypogon)

Diet

Feeds on small bottom fishes such as squirrelfish and soldierfish.

Habitat

Found inshore and on coral reefs across northern Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Fin-tastic facts

The oddly named tasselled wobbegong is a supreme ambush predator. A fleshy beard around its chin breaks up its outline and camouflaged skin makes it difficult to spot on the seabed. It eyes are perfectly adapted to focus on a single spot just in front of its head.

It is the master of patience and simply waits for its prey to wander into range. If that doesn’t work, the shark has a trick up its sleeve. It uses its tail as a lure, waving it back and forth to draw its prey ever closer. When the prey is in range, the wobbegong strikes. The sudden opening of its mouth causes pressure differences in the water, which suck the fish into its jaws before being swallowed whole and digested.

Shark

Whitetip reef

(Triaenodon obesus)

Diet

A specialist in capturing reef fish in coral caves and crevices.

Habitat

Commonly found in waters around coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Fin-tastic facts

By day these placid sharks are often found in numbers lying motionless on the reef and are common sites to divers. Harassed by local sea lions and a scratching post for meandering fish, they seem harmless. But by night, they transform into ruthless hunters, scouring the reef in packs in search of their prey.

All of their senses are perfectly tuned for the hunt. Electroreceptors on their head detect the faintest of electrical signals, as small as a millionth of a volt – the heartbeat of a scared fish. They can even smell the odour given off by a distressed fish! With all of this sensory information, their prey stands little chance of going unnoticed. Even fish that are tucked tightly into cracks and crevices in the coral are a target, as the shark’s slender body allows it to squeeze into impossibly small holes. Other members of the pack will block off any escape routes, so once targeted the fish stand no chance of escape.

Shark

Greenland

(Somniosus microcephalus)

Diet

Very varied diet from bony fish, to sharks, seals and porpoises, and even dead animals.

Habitat

Found in the Northern Atlantic and Arctic seas.

Fin-tastic facts

The Greenland shark lives in one of the most extreme environments. Temperatures frequently fall below zero, yet this shark thrives. It’s predicted that this shark could live to 200 years old, and its slow way of life means it expends little energy when scavenging for food – perhaps a drowned polar bear or dead whale.

But don’t be fooled, this shark is also an active hunter. It preys on seals that are sleeping in the ocean, trying to evade hungry polar bears that hunt them on land, and actually feeds on them head first! Powerful suction means this shark can suck food into its mouth from over a metre away. It finds its food using its sense of smell, which is highly developed, and it’s thought this compensates for the shark being blind. The parasitic copepod ommatokoita elongata attaches itself to the cornea of these sharks and actually feeds off the eye!

Shark

Mobula ray

(Mobula munkiana)

Diet

Feeds primarily on mysid shrimp.

Habitat

Found in shallow coastal waters of the eastern Pacific.

Fin-tastic facts

Forming the largest aggregations of rays in the world, still very little is known about this species. They gather in the thousands in huge shoals, and undergo one of the greatest spectacles of nature.

It’s thought the mobulas gather in such numbers to find a mate. But before the mating ritual begins, they fuel up on the plankton rich waters to gain the energy they need for the display. As the numbers grow and the shoals get bigger, individual mobula rays propel themselves out of the water in a spectacular display of aerial acrobatics, before landing with a loud bang. More and more join in, until the area is filled with leaping rays. It’s thought that the louder splashes created by the bigger individuals are those most likely to attract a mate. But that doesn’t stop smaller members joining in the excitement!

Shark

Port Jackson

(Heterodontus portjacksoni)

Diet

Feeds on sea urchins and gastropods, as well as crustaceans and small fish.

Habitat

Found in temperate waters on the eastern, western and southern coast of Australia.

Fin-tastic facts

From an ancient order of sharks that predates the dinosaurs, Port Jackson sharks look prehistoric. Between July and October, males and females gather in huge numbers around New South Wales in Australia to mate. Two weeks later, females produce the first pair of extraordinary spiral-shaped eggs. These large eggs (nearly the size of the mother’s head!) would have required a considerable energy investment, and so mothers will sometimes carry their eggs in their mouths and wedge them into crevices in the rock. The corkscrew design of the egg makes them difficult to dislodge, so they are kept safe from predators. The unfortunate few that don’t have a safe hiding place make easy pickings for predators.

The crested horn shark, which looks almost identical to the Port Jackson shark, is a major predator of Port Jackson shark eggs. They crush the eggs using their strong jaws, feeding off the rich yolk.

Shark

Giant manta ray

(Manta birostris)

Diet

Primarily feeds on plankton.

Habitat

A pelagic species that can also be found near shore, over reefs and around offshore islands in temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide.

Fin-tastic facts

The largest ray in the world, the giant manta is a graceful and gentle creature. They can make migrations across the oceans, finding their way by following topographical maps using ocean landmarks, such as seamounts.

But mantas are also extremely intelligent and possess the largest brain of any fish. Glial cells are thought to be a sign of intelligence, and mantas have more of these than a domestic cat!

When swimming around divers, mantas can be extremely curious, often coming in for a closer inspection and swimming repeatedly through divers’ bubbles. It’s thought that each manta has its own individual personality and this is reflected in how they interact with divers. There have even been reports of manta rays seeking out the help of divers to remove fishing line wrapped around their fins. There’s far more going on behind those big eyes than previously imagined.

Shark

Whale

(Rhincodon typus)

Diet

Feeds on plankton and nekton, such as schooling fishes, small crustaceans, squid and fish eggs.

Habitat

A pelagic species with a widespread distribution in all tropical and warm temperate seas, excluding the Mediterranean.

Fin-tastic facts

The whale shark is the largest fish in the ocean reaching lengths of up to 18 metres (59 feet), yet they feed on some of the tiniest creatures.

They can travel immense distances around the globe in order to exploit rich food patches. In an average year a shark could travel over 10,000km (6,213 miles) in its constant search for food. Off the Yucatán Peninsula, a huge spawning event occurs when the little tunny, a common tuna species, releases billions of fish eggs into the water. This attracts the largest gathering of whale sharks in the world, an event dubbed “afuera”. Hundreds of whale sharks can be seen feeding on this rich fish egg soup, filtering through tens of thousands of gallons of water every hour.

Whale sharks have learnt to take advantage of this glut of food, but it’s not the only place they’ve learned to exploit an easy food source. Some whale sharks in the Philippines have learnt they can get an easy meal by sucking fish out of fishermen’s nets!

Shark

Lemon

(Negaprion brevirostris)

Diet

Feeds on bony fish and crustaceans, as well as rays and other sharks.

Habitat

Inhabits coastal inshore subtropical shallow waters around the US to the north and eastern shores of South America, as well as the west coast of Africa.

Fin-tastic facts

Lemon sharks are viviparous, in that they give birth to live young, so when a pup is born it is already a fully formed miniature shark. The mother will risk stranding herself in shallow waters to get as close as she can to the edge of a mangrove forest to give birth, giving her pups the greatest chance of protection from predators. When she gives birth, the pup instinctively swims in the direction of the mangroves, breaking free of the umbilical cord.

With no parental care from its mother, the vulnerable pup is left to its own devices. Like all sharks, these juveniles have to learn to hunt. If they don’t they will starve to death, which is often the highest cause of mortality in juvenile sharks. But these flooded mangrove forests form a nursery area for other juvenile lemon sharks. Here they come together and form friendships and learn how to hunt and be a shark. As the juveniles get older, they venture further and further from the safety of the mangroves, until one day, when they are about 7-8 years old, they leave for good.

Incredibly female lemon sharks will return to the same mangrove forests that they were born in, to give birth to their own litter of pups!