By Kiko Miyasato
The elements are what immediately hit you upon entering Shark Reef. Humid air, jungle noises, green shrubbery and cascading vines—it’s all part of the aquarium’s dedication to simulating its inhabitants’ natural environs. The maze through the jungle, with tenants that include the killer Komodo dragon, golden crocodile and piranha, ginormous pacu fish and dozens of other species of fish in vast tanks, encourages visitors to slowly wind their way through. Children will get a kick out of the stingray touch pool, where they can slowly graze the tops of the swimming angel-like species with their fingertips. Mesmerizing, to say the least, is the cylindrical jellyfish tank. The sea creatures, with poisonous tentacles dancing together, will hold your attention for minutes on end.
Capping off the aquarium is a 1.3 million-gallon shipwreck where you come as close as you can without actually swimming side-by-side with various species of sharks. The glass tunnel, where even the floor is see-through, has visitors completely surrounded by hammerhead, whitetip, blacktip, zebra and sand tiger sharks. It’s especially satisfying if you can spot the green sea turtles—an endangered species, but a happy and healthy tenant of Shark Reef.