Sharks are at the top of the food chain—and, sadly, the endangered species list. About 30% of shark species are listed as vulnerable or endangered, and scientists estimate that oceanic shark populations have plummeted 70% since 1970. Overfishing, habitat degradation, and an insatiable demand for shark fins are the primary culprits behind the staggering decline of sharks worldwide—but there is hope. As people trade fear for fascination, fisheries reduce shark bycatch, and marine protected areas (MPAs) expand, sharks still have a fighting chance. Together, we can ensure that plenty of these incredible fish remain in the sea.
Carcharodon megalodon was likely the largest shark that ever lived, growing up to three times longer than today's great whites.
Digital projections put you face-to-fin with a dozen incredible shark species.
Life-size casts made from real specimens allow up-close investigation of fascinating shark species.
This exhibit is now closed.
From the tiny dwarf lanternshark to the mighty Megalodon, the incredible diversity of sharks is matched only by their astounding resilience. Having cruised Earth’s oceans for over 450 million years—before trees even appeared on land—sharks have persevered through multiple mass extinctions and evolved into more than 500 unique species. However, as the planet faces the urgent, simultaneous crises of global heating, biodiversity loss, and habitat destruction, a haunting question remains: Can sharks survive us?
In Sharks, you’ll plunge into the realm of these apex predators and develop a profound appreciation for their beauty, complexity, and vulnerability. Explore ancient fossils, impressive jaws, and life-size models of a variety of iconic species—and emerge with a deeper understanding of how protecting sharks protects us all.
As you meander through the exhibit, marvel at stunning life-size models cast from actual great white, hammerhead, and bull sharks, and step up to a scrolling digital projection to see how you measure up to other shark species.
Smile! Your pearly whites are nice, but nothing compares to the mammoth maws of Carcharodon megalodon and Otodus obliquus. Ogle the epic jaws of these great white shark ancestors and investigate other rare fossils and teeth—including some that are up to 370 million years old.
Live sharks at the Academy
While live sharks are not featured in the Sharks exhibit, you can still encounter three species of live sharks during your Academy visit: horn sharks and swell sharks in Steinhart Aquarium and pyjama sharks in our African penguin habitat.
Humans have devised a number of ways to stay safe around sharks. Look up at an abalone diver’s protective cage, peer into one of the actual shark cages used in the movie Jaws, and see the wetsuit Rodney Fox wore when he was bitten—and learn why his encounter turned him into a lifelong shark advocate.
A fin-ematic experience
Go for a virtual dive before exiting the exhibit: The projection gallery puts you in the middle of a mesmerizing marine environment, featuring immersive cinema-quality audio and high-definition underwater footage of 11 different shark species.
Academy initiatives like Hope for Reefs help protect and preserve vital shark habitat around the world. Gifts of all sizes make a big difference.