Shark Petting Allowed - NBC 7 San Diego

Shark Petting Allowed

Real sharks entice young kids to a special exhibit at the Birch Aquarium

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    Shark Petting Allowed
    Birch Aquarium
    Young visitors enjoying an exhibit at the Birch Aquarium during Shark Week last year.

    They are not going to bite you, at least not the sharks you can pet at the Birch Aquarium. Shark Week which ends July 24 is all about teaching kids and adults to appreciate these sea creatures and not get freaked out by them as some movie goers are who've seen the movie JAWS.

    So many grow up with Hollywood's version of  scary sharks but the majority of the several hundred species are not dangerous says Nigella Hilgarth, Executive Director of the Birch Aquarium.

    The special exhibit and shows during Shark Week are all about teaching kids to appreciate the beauty and value of these stunning sea creatures.

    "A hundred million sharks are killed a year, decimating the shark population. For example many of the sharks are killed to make shark fin soup, they're thrown back into the sea and they drown because they can't swim without their fins," adds Hillgarth

    This week, kids will get up close and personal with the sharks by petting them. Under the guidance of a docent, visitors are allowed to use one finger to touch a baby shark. Kids go home thinking, "I touched a shark," says Hillgarth, which  leaves kids with the impression that sharks are not frightening.