For an animal whose importance to ocean life can't be overstated, the shark has a tremendous public relations problem.
Almost always portrayed as villains lurking in the salty depths, sharks really should be celebrated for the role they play as apex predators by keeping populations of other species healthy and thriving.
In short, sharks are friends, not foes.
In recognition of this, the Tennessee Aquarium will host a jawsome celebration of all things shark when SharkFest returns on Friday, Aug. 2. During this members-only event from 5 to 8 p.m., guests will enjoy a variety of activities on the Aquarium Plaza and throughout the Ocean Journey building.
* Upon arrival, visitors will be able to sink their teeth into shark-infused ice cream treats from Clumpies Ice Cream Co., have their faces painted and visit the experts from Great Clips for a fin-tastic 'do in a range of rad colors.
* After the feeding frenzy, guests may snap selfies with costumed mascots, sift through sand for shark teeth, play a game of Shark Hole (like cornhole, but you know, sharks) or grab a fishing pole to try to hook a fun prize.
* Inside Ocean Journey, the Secret Reef tank will host a special dive show presentation and feeding session with the Aquarium's sandbar sharks and sand tiger sharks. Booths and mobile education stations throughout the building will offer opportunities to get an even-closer look at sharks and shark artifacts.
* At Goofy Greg's Massive Megaladon Tooth Collection, guests will see the enormous chompers left behind by those extinct mega sharks.
* While they admire epaulette sharks, horn sharks and coral catsharks in the Stingray Bay touch tank, visitors can get an up-close look at the leathery egg pouches, known as mermaid's purses, laid by these animals.
* At Dr. Bernie's Travelin' Shark Show, experts will show visitors a collection of preserved museum specimens of various shark species, offering a closer look at the body shape, teeth configuration and other adaptations that make them such successful predators.
* Guests can meet the scuba-diving local filmmakers from Nature Films Network, who have produced some of the top-rated shark films for Shark Week.
In conjunction with Sharkfest, guests will enjoy a 20% discount off merchandise purchased in the Ocean Journey gift shop.
For more info about SharkFest: community.tnaqua.org/events/2019-member- events/q3/sharkfest-2019. To learn about becoming a Tennessee Aquarium member or to purchase a membership: tnaqua.org/members.