Take a deep dive into the amazing world of sharks at the Shedd Aquarium. Sharks are one of the more interesting and diverse animal groups that call the aquarium home and whether you’re fascinated by them, or a little afraid, the Shedd has ways guests of all ages and comfort levels can learn more about and really appreciate these creatures.
For little ones and those who prefer to just look, pay a visit to Ginsu in the Wild Reef
“Whoa!” echoes around the aquarium’s Wild Reef exhibit when the green sawfish affectionately named Ginsu swims past guests. Ginsu is elasmobranch — a shark, ray and skate — whose species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List. She’s 375 pounds and 14 feet long. A third of her length comes from her rostrum, which really does look just like a saw.
Ginsu may steal the spotlight, but don’t miss the many other amazing sharks to see in this exhibit, too.
For kids in elementary school, attend a daily animal chat about sharks
Offered a few times each day in the Wild Reef exhibits, the shark animal chat is a chance to learn all about these amazing creatures. Experts are on hand to talk about sharks and questions are encouraged. Ever wondered why sharks don’t eat the fishes they swim with? Or what the deal really is with sharks’ teeth and why they have so many? Here’s your chance to get answers from those in the know.
(Currently, chats take place 9:45 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. but check the schedule on the day of your visit.)
For teens who love science, participate in the Global Finprint research project at the Teen Learning Lab
Think Chicago teens live too far from the ocean to study and research sharks? Think again!
Teens can be citizen scientists thanks to the Shedd’s collaboration with an international research project called Global FinPrint. Teens will have the opportunity to watch 60 minutes of underwater footage from reef ecosystems in the Bahamas and record what they see, including the number of sharks and rays present, the species of each animal and the time they came into view of the camera, using special software.
That information is added to Global FinPrint’s database, which stores data about the presence of sharks and rays in oceans across the globe. The project hopes to address the lack of information about the diminishing number of sharks and rays in our oceans and marks the first time a group of teens will contribute to their studies. It empowers them by giving them an active role in protecting the species that live in our oceans.
The project will run until March. You can learn more about the Shedd’s Teen Learning Lab here.
For families who love to be hands on, consider the Shark Feeding Tour, one of the Shedd’s Extraordinary Experiences
Go behind the scenes and see what goes into caring for the sharks. The 400,000-gallon shark habitat looks really different from above, where the aquarists work. That’s where the aquarists feed the sharks and those on the tour get to learn what goes into feeding several different kinds of sharks, including what’s on the menu and how they make sure the animals eat their food and no one else’s. You may even get to assist, too, if you want. (Don’t worry. If you want to marvel from afar, that’s okay, too.) Participants must be at least 10 years old and 55 inches high. Cost is $89.95 for adults, $80.95 for children/$54 for members.
If you go:
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago
Weekdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Weekends 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.