LAS VEGAS – Dangerous predators and unusual aquatic creatures abound at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. The 90,560-square-foot aquarium holds nearly 1.6-million gallons of fresh and seawater in 14 major exhibits.
Since its debut in 2000, Shark Reef Aquarium has become a must-see attraction, where adults and children alike flock to get up close and personal with more than 2,000 divinely dangerous animals including sharks, crocodiles, sawfish, piranhas and a rare Komodo Dragon.
A total sensory experience, Shark Reef Aquarium transports visitors to an undersea ocean of fantastic sights, sounds and encounters. Unlike other aquariums and zoo exhibits in the U.S., Shark Reef Aquarium allows guests to experience a themed journey through an ancient temple that has been slowly claimed by the sea and onto the deck of a sunken ship in shark-infested waters.
“Shark Reef Aquarium provides visitors the unique opportunity to closely observe rare predators such as a Komodo Dragon, Golden Crocodiles, two Shark Rays and several species of magnificent sharks all under one roof,” said Adrienne Rowland, the facility’s director. “Shark Reef Aquarium offers an unforgettable adventure, transporting visitors past jungle creatures and down into a sunken ship with sharks gliding overhead. It’s thrilling to be within reach of such fascinating animals.”
The latest additions to the Shark Reef family are a male and female Bowmouth Guitarfish, more commonly known as Shark Rays. The Shark Ray, not actually a shark but rather a member of the ray family, is referred to as a Shark Ray because its front half is wide and flat like a stingray while the back half is long and slender with tall fins like a shark. There are less than 12 Shark Rays on display in U.S. aquariums.
Unusual for most attractions of its kind, Shark Reef Aquarium allows visitors to experience the environment on many levels – viewing exhibits from all angles. Guests are able to see rays resting on the ocean floor and then look up and watch a school of fish swim overhead. In the temple exhibits, not only do visitors see the animals, they feel the mist on their skin, hear birds sing and see exotic flowers all around.
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 2003, Shark Reef Aquarium was conceived with an international team of aquarium and exhibit designers. Anchored by Las Vegas architectural firm Klai::Juba, the team includes overall development guidance by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre of Vancouver, Canada; exhibit design of BIOS:Inc. of Seattle; animal life support engineering systems by TA Maranda of Seattle and Desert Plumbing of Las Vegas; animal care criteria by Dr. Dennis Thoney of New York, NY, and the advice and consultation of a variety of scientific and technical experts from five continents.
Shark Reef offers locals and Las Vegas visitors an Annual Pass which provides unlimited entry, discounts and exclusive offers. Additionally, the Annual Pass provides access to Shark Reef Aquarium’s Dive with Sharks program, giving dive-certified pass holders the opportunity to dive in the aquarium’s 1.3-million-gallon Shipwreck Exhibit. Annual Passes can be purchased for $40 for adults and $25 for children ages 5-12; children four and under are free when accompanied by an adult pass holder.
Shark Reef is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to
10 p.m. Last entry is one hour prior to closing. Ticket prices are $18 for adults and $12 for children; children four and under are free. Discounts are available for Nevada residents with identification. For more information call (702) 632-4555 or explore sharkreef.com.