Next summer, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas plans to open a Shark and Ray Touchpool Gallery that will allow the public to touch small sharks and stingrays.
“We hope this new exhibit encourages an appreciation for this often-misunderstood, but essential species by highlighting sharks’s considerable contributions to the health of our planet,” said Rich Toth, Vice President and Managing Director of Audubon Aquarium.
By bringing visitors up close and personal with the feared predators, the aquarium hopes to facilitate a deeper connection between sharks and humans, which will in-turn intensify conservation efforts.
Sharks and rays, which play a vital role in top-down ecosystem maintenance, are both on the Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) list, which are threatened due to overfishing.
Species considered for the approximately 60-by-16-foot pool include zebra sharks, catsharks, bamboo sharks, southern rays, Atlantic rays, yellow rays, blue-spotted rays, and guitarfish.