Whether it’s passionate obsession or primal fear, sharks elicit everything but indifference. Discover the incredible animals behind the sensational headlines in this Academy exhibit, open through January 23.

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.

Sharks is open daily through January 23, 2022. For your safety, capacity is limited in this exhibit.

Underwater photo of hammerhead sharks swimming with a diver

Saving sharks

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.

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Close-up of hammerhead shark cast

Close encounters

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.

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Series of glass-domed vitrines displaying different shark jaws

Open wide

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.

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Pyjama shark swimming in African penguin exhibit

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.

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Exhibit display with surfboard bitten by shark and wetsuit worn by shark bite victim

Impressive objects

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.

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Guests inside Sharks exhibit projection gallery

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.

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Hours & location

Sharks is open daily during regular Academy hours. Find it in the Forum Gallery on Level Two. 

Support our work

Academy initiatives like Hope for Reefs help protect and preserve vital shark habitat around the world. Gifts of all sizes make a big difference.

Created by:
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Generously supported by:
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