Shark Week 2024: Where to learn about & hang around sharks in Florida

Shark Week 2024: Where to learn about & hang around sharks in Florida

Photo courtesy of Eric Aiden/Unsplash.

By Britteny Dee

July 3, 2024

Here are the best eight places to learn about and hang around sharks in Florida for Shark Week 2024.

Every summer, sharks get thrust into the national spotlight during Shark Week, Discovery Channel’s annual series featuring shark-related documentaries and other TV programming. The first Shark Week aired in 1988, and since then, it’s become a bit of a cultural phenomenon, attracting more than 22 million viewers in 2023. Famous faces from The Rock to Michael Phelps to Shaquille O’Neal have all appeared on Shark Week, and this year’s event is hosted by professional wrestler John Cena. 

While many people across the country have to settle for watching all the action on TV, here in Florida, you can take your Shark Week celebrations to the next level. To gear up for Shark Week 2024, which kicks off on July 7, we’re highlighting the best places to learn about — and hang out with — sharks in Florida. From aquariums and museum exhibits to tours that allow you to swim with sharks, there’s something for every shark enthusiastic in this roundup.

Let’s dive in!

1. Florida Shark Diving

U-Tiki Beach Marina, 1095 N. A1A, Jupiter

If you want to see sharks in their natural habitat, book a charter with Florida Shark Diving. The Jupiter-based company, located at U-Tiki Beach Marina, offers two excursion options that take participants out into the ocean for a meet and greet with local sharks. 

During its Shark Diving Trip, you can get in the water with sharks, either in a cage or as a free dive. While in the shark-proof cage, you’ll have a 360-degree view of your underwater surroundings — sharks included. If you opt for the freediving option, you’ll swim around the boat and get an open-ocean experience like no other. 

For those who want to see sharks without getting in the water with them, book a Shark Viewing Trip instead. You’ll still get up close and personal with the sharks — but from the comfort of the boat. 

No experience is required for either trip, and all the necessary gear is provided. 

2. Shark Addicts

805 US-1 Jupiter

Shark Addicts is another shark diving tour company located in Jupiter. Offering educational excursions designed to teach people about the important role sharks play in our oceans’ ecosystems, Shark Addicts aims to “change your perspective of the ocean forever.” The company’s mission is perfectly aligned with that of Shark Week, which is to educate the public about these oft-misunderstood sea creatures and increase conservation efforts.

During this approximately three-hour trip, you’re likely to come face to face with a wide variety of sharks, ranging from bull sharks and hammerheads to tiger and reef sharks. You don’t need any prior diving experience to participate, and all the equipment is provided. 

3. Sea Life Orlando Aquarium

8449 International Dr., Orlando

If you prefer to be on dry land with a sturdy barrier between you and the sharks you’re viewing, consider a visit to an aquarium instead. At Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, there are several shark species on display, including bonnethead, zebra, bamboo, epaulette, and coral catsharks. The aquarium is also home to stingrays, turtles, seahorses, and other sea creatures. 

Additionally, from July 5 to August 4, the museum is hosting a Super Shark Summer event featuring interactive education stations, virtual reality experiences, and more.  

4. Mote Shark Zone

1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota

The Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota also has a dedicated space for sharks. In the Mote Shark Zone, visitors can get a close-up look at several shark species, explore Mote’s extensive shark research, sift for fossilized shark teeth, and take a photo by a Megalodon shark jaw. During Narrated Shark Training Sessions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, you can watch trainers teach sharks to swim to their food.  

5. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

11710 Overseas Hwy., Marathon

Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters invites you to “experience the drama of the food chain like never before” at its Predator Reef Tank. This shark aquarium is home to nurse, blacktip, sandbar, blacknose, and bonnethead sharks, as well as other popular Florida Keys reef fish. Watch these animals swim around and experience the excitement of a live feeding. 

Think it’d be fun to pet and feed a shark? At the Big Shark Bay Encounter, you can do exactly that. A marine biologist will share the ins and outs of behavioral shark training and allow you to feed and handle the animals from the safety of the tank deck. 

6. The Shark Pit Bar & Grill

4001 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach

Want to eat among the sharks instead of just feeding them? Enjoy mouth-watering ocean delights at The Shark Pit Bar & Grill. Grab a table near the 5,600-gallon aquarium filled with sharks, exotic fish, and other sea life or the 40-foot water wall and take a bite out of the restaurant’s shark-themed dishes, such as the Big Jaws Burgers. 

Dine on a Tuesday or Saturday for a chance to watch the animals in the aquarium get fed. 

7. SharkCon

4800 US-301, Tampa

Celebrate all things shark-related under one roof at SharkCon. Presented by National Geographic, this two-day event takes place at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall from July 13 to 14 and helps raise money for ocean and shark conservation efforts.

Hear from speakers from Shark Week, National Geographic, and Animal Planet and shop shark- and ocean-related merchandise from more than 100 vendors. Panel discussions cover topics ranging from the evolution of shark ecotourism to working as a shark scientist. Florida businesses such as Sharks4Kids, Trilogy Dive Center, Gatorland, and Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves will also host exhibits and activities throughout the convention. 

8. Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived

352 S. Nova Rd., Daytona Beach

Transport yourself back to prehistoric times at the Museum of Arts & Sciences’ Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived exhibit. Open now through July 21, this exhibit pays homage to the massive apex predator that once dominated the oceans.

The highlight of the exhibit is a full-scale sculptural replica of a megalodon that’s 60 feet long, but other oceanic objects on display include real fossil specimens, full-scale models of other ancient and modern sharks, and more. Learn all about the megalodon’s diet, relatives, and ultimate extinction. 

RELATED: What are the most common sharks in Florida?

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Shark Week 2024: Where to learn about & hang around sharks in FloridaShark Week 2024: Where to learn about & hang around sharks in Florida

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