Do your kids count down the days to “Shark Week” every year? Can they rattle off facts about great whites? Have they seen“Jaws” a gazillion times? Here are six ways to keep them engaged and excited about the apex predators all year round.
If you could time travel back millions of years, you’d find the waters off this shoreline teeming with a variety of sharks. They’re long gone, but their teeth remain for sharp-eyed treasure hunters to discover. To have the best chance of finding them, as well as other fossils from the Miocene era, look along either the tideline or the surf line. $5-8 per car, depending on the time of year and county of residency.
1525 Flag Ponds Pkwy., Lusby; 410-586-1477
Get up close and personal with the sharp-toothed swimmers at Shark Alley. The 225,000-gallon circular tank holds nurse sharks, sandbar sharks, and sand tiger sharks, as well as stingrays and largetooth sawfish. Kids ages 8 years and up (must be accompanied by a guardian if they’re under 16) can get a backstage look at how they’re cared for, walk a catwalk over the sharks, and sleep next to their tank by participating in a shark-themed sleepover ($100-120). Admission to the aquarium is $39.95 for adults, $24.95 for children ages 3-11, and $34.95 for seniors ages 65 and up.
501 E. Pratt St. Baltimore; 410-576-3800
Photographer Brian Skerry gets paid to swim with sharks. An exhibit of his work, simply titled “Sharks,” features his pictures, as well as videos, models, and interactive elements. Part of the goal is for visitors to marvel at the toothy predators’ raw beauty, but Skerry also aims to raise awareness about protecting and conserving sharks, since over 100 million of them are killed every year. Through early October 2017; admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children 5-12, and $12 for members and seniors 62 and up.
1145 17th St. NW; 202-857-7700
The Chesapeake Bay
Whether you’re on the shore or out on the water, you may spot a shark. At least a dozen species are found in the Bay. The most common is the sandbar shark, though other frequently spotted varieties include the sand tiger shark, bull shark, smooth dogfish, and spiny dogfish. If you’re really lucky, you might see a basking shark, bonnethead, or smooth hammerhead. Don’t worry, none of them will probably pose a threat–if you stay a respectful distance away and don’t touch them. There hasn’t been an unprovoked shark attack in Maryland in more than a century, according to a database maintained by Shark Attack Data. That said, don’t put your arm around one and try to take a selfie.
One of the most arresting displays in Sant Ocean Hall are the massive fossilized jaws of a prehistoric shark. Carcharodon megalodon lived 500 million years ago, but its gigantic teeth, some bigger than an adult’s hand, still look sharp enough to chomp right through any swimmer unlucky enough to cross its path. If you post a picture of the massive maw, make sure to hashtag it #jawsome. Free.
10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW; 202-633-1000
Lure your little ones in with the promise of sharks, which appear in John Singleton Copley’s oil painting Watson and the Shark from 1778. Inspired by true events, the epic scene depicts seaman saving a young boy from being ravaged by sharks. After your kids have gotten their fin fix, you can insist they “get a little more culture” by checking out the rest of the museum. Free.
6th St. & Constitution Ave NW; 202-737-4215