Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shark Petting!?

If I was a shark and my species had survived millions of years thanks to our sleek design and keen predator senses, and I was stuck in some tank as opposed to the vast ocean, if you tried to pet me, I’d bite your hand off. I’d be bitter. I’d be pissed. But most of all, I’d be bored and there is nothing I’d like to see more than you jumping around holding your stump.

The patrons of the Newport Aquarium are lucky that I’m not a shark. Recently the aquarium has opened its shark-petting exhibit, which just may be the dumbest exhibit ever. Divers and nature-lovers are taught not to touch anything, not out of fear for themselves, but out of concern for the touched. The aquarium is erasing the "watch, don't touch" approach to nature.

Aquariums and zoos always kind of make me depressed. No matter how many gallons the tank or how natural the habitat may appear, the animals are getting a raw deal compared with their free-roaming brethren. I justify the existence of aquariums and zoos because they often promote education and conservation. By watching and appreciating animals such as sharks in an aquarium, we will make decisions that help protect their natural habitat. What the hell does touching promote other than the Newport Aquarium’s bottom line?

From the aquarium’s website:

This summer you can enjoy the most unique experience of its kind in the region – Newport Aquarium’s new Shark Central exhibit. It’s home to a field research facility and dozens of sharks you can actually touch. You’ll learn the official “two-finger touch” technique and how to properly pet them. It’s safe. It’s thrilling. It’s an experience your kids will never forget.

I’ve got my own two-finger technique ready for a visit to the Newport aquarium.

3 comments: said...

I love the aquarium's claim, " you'l learn the “two-finger touch” technique and how to properly pet them."

I didn't even know that there WAS a proper way to pet a shark.

This must be the reason for shark attacks reported in the news, people just aren't taking the time to pet them properly!

Melissa said...

I've petted sharks! And Manta Rays. The Aqarium of the Pacific (in Long Beach CA-an excellent aquarium that I highly recommend) has a few exhibits. You can also touch Manta Rays at Sea World in San Diego. They're not scary sharks! Just itty-bitty non-aggressive (well-fed) ones.

Kelsey said...

All I'm saying is that I wouldn't want to be touched all day by grubby little hands. I think the whole animal petting phenomenon is kind of sick.