No need to wait for the TV series “Shark Week” to learn and see more about sharks.
Wichita's Exploration Place is devoting a full summer of activities to sharks with a new traveling exhibition. “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey, The Experience” opens at Wichita's science center Saturday. Anyone taking advantage of Exploration Place's discounted admission during its Riverflix movie series Friday, May 25, will get to see the exhibition before its official opening day.
“Jaws,” which shows the predator side of sharks, will conclude Exploration Place's first-ever free outdoor film series. The movies are projected on the wall near the main entrance when the sun goes down. Before the movie, starting at 6:30 p.m., families and guests can do free outdoor activities, get something to eat from food trucks and enjoy discounted admission ($5 for anyone ages 2 and up) to Exploration Place's exhibits.
While “Jaws” built its plot line on the scarier side of sharks – which are among the top animals of the marine life food chain – the exhibit is meant to help visitors better understand sharks and their environment and contemplate how sharks can also be prey as their population is threatened.
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An estimated 100 million sharks are killed by fisheries every year, according to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
“Shark/ocean themes have always been very popular with our visitors, and one big reason, we think, is that we are bringing the ocean or ocean creatures here, to a landlocked state,” said Christina Bluml, marketing director for Exploration Place.
As part of the exhibit, visitors will find themselves immersed among the sharks, as high-definition videos and images are projected onto the walls and floor of an enclosed area, giving one the impression they are in the ocean with the sharks during the 45-minute experience, Bluml explained.
The exhibit also has full-scale shark models cast from real animals, including the great white shark.
There are more than 500 shark species, according to the Smithsonian. Rare fossils, real shark jaws and teeth, with some up to 370 million years old, will also be on display.
Like “Shark Week,” which first started airing in 1988, the exhibit also shares stories of human/shark encounters. Visitors will learn about satellite tagging programs and conservation efforts.
The exhibition's shark theme will carry over into several areas of Exploration Place's summer programming, including its three summer camps offered for three different age groups that start Tuesday, May 29, a Senior Wednesday program June 27, and a kids night out for ages 5-10 on July 6.
The film, “Great White Shark,” will begin showing Saturday, June 23, in the recently updated digital dome theater inside Exploration Place. Separate admission is charged for the dome theater. “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey, The Experience,” put together by the Australia-based Grande Exhibitions, will be at Exploration Place through Monday, Sept 3, and is included in general museum admission.
“Planet Shark: Predator or Prey, The Experience” exhibit
When: Saturday, May 29-Monday, Sept. 3;
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean
Admission: $10.50 for ages 12-54; $9 for seniors 65 and older, $7 for youth ages 3-11, free for members and those ages 2 and under. Dome admission is separate
More information: www.exploration.org or 316-660-0600