Sharks at the Shedd are too cool
Thursday, May 01, 2003
New exhibits bring you 25 sharks
Sharks are the star attraction at the new $45 million wild Reef exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
As I walk in, the lights are low, as if to build anticipation. From the other end of the room comes a crashing wave sound. The sign says, “Welcome to the Philippines.”
It’s not really the Philippines. It’s really the new shark exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. But the Philippines is where all the fish and everything are from. The floor is made of 17.5 tons of real sand actually imported from the Philippines.
The exhibit, called Wild Reef, just opened. It includes crashing waves that are awesome. The next room is all about coral. If you go, look at the floor. It is a huge mosaic of a magnified coral with 100 Italian tiles per square foot. The floor is enough to blow you away, but then there are giant models of coral making us only a grain of sand next to it. For a fun fact, the Shedd will have the largest collection of live coral in the Midwest.
Next there is a large tank where there is an opening. If you watch for a while, you will see a shark tail. Do not forget to look up in the third room because there are fish swimming over your head. That I think is so cool. Next there are some eels. They are very cool. Also in a tank right after the eels is a tank with a fishfrog. It blends in, so look carefully. There is a tank with stingrays that you can walk on and they swim under you.
Right across from that is a giant glass wall. In it is tons of sharks. It is stunning. There is a zebra shark, which is cool. It is long and wavy. However, if you ask me, the coolest was the green sawtooth shark. It got its name because its mouth looks like a chainsaw.
There are live shark eggs you can see. One looks as if it was just laid. The other is ready to hatch. Nearby is a tank with some smaller Bamboo sharks that hide in the rocks.
Trainers at the Shedd are training sharks like dolphins so they can check them and feed them the certain kind of food they eat. My guide says they MIGHT let people touch the sharks. The whole exhibit may be focused on the reef as opposed to sharks, but it is very, very awesome.
Editor’s note: Eight years in the making, Wild Reef is a 10-room, $45 million exhibit within a new 28,000-square foot underground wing of the aquarium. The 400,000-gallon exhibit presents 2,000 fish, including 25 sharks. The Shedd is located at 1200 Lake Shore Dr., Chicago. It’s open every day from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. All-access admission is $21 for adults; $17 for children and seniors. (312) 939-2435; www.sheddaquarium.org.
-- Lizzy Donahue, 10, Oak Park