Open wide: Aquarium features shark exhibition

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

Step into this dimly-lit exhibition and you will be greeted by what might be one of your worst nightmares.

The gaping, tooth-filled mouth of a cast of a 17-foot Great White shark welcomes visitors to "Planet Shark: Predator or Prey," an out-of-water exhibition that introduces humans to one of the world's most feared predators and possibly one of the most misunderstood.

The exhibition is making its world debut at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which boasts its own collection of live sharks.

Full scale models cast from real specimens displayed throughout the exhibition will bring visitors as close to sharks as some might ever want to come.

The multiple galleries that make up the exhibition will paint a picture of the history and evolution of sharks, the many and varied species of sharks, the media's potential damaging effects on the creatures, the dangers sharks' extinction could pose to ocean ecosystems and the beauty that some may find if they look more closely at the rulers of the underwater world.

One of the highlights of "Planet Shark" is a display of a real, 688-pound bluefin tuna and its natural predator, a 10-foot adult Mako shark, both frozen.

Continuing through the exhibition, guests will be introduced to shark attack survivors and the stories they tell of their intimate encounters with some of the most dangerous animals on our planet.

Through this 10,000-square-foot exhibition, "Planet Shark" creators hope guests will decide for themselves whether sharks are the ultimate predator or prey to humans who are threatening many species with extinction due to shark finning and over-fishing.

To complement "Planet Shark: Predator or Prey," the Georgia Aquarium will present lectures given by world-renowned experts on sharks, shark-themed film festivals and other interactive opportunities to enhance the shark experience.

To find out what's in store for your "Planet Shark" experience, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.