If you have always wanted to pet a shark, and you've just gotten your fill of fins during "Shark Week", then this is for you. Oh, and this experience includes those elusive stingrays as well. Yikes.

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, which has been voted one of the top ten aquariums in the United States, has a new exhibit that is sure to delight all shark lovers. "Shark Discovery", which is a new 13,000-gallon, $2.9 million shark and ray touch pool is now open for guests who want their aquarium experience to include a little "bite". The second-floor exhibit between the penguin and sea otter habitats will let visitors be hands-on with their favorite marine life. And according to a press release from the Audubon Institute, they also hope to "encourage an appreciation for the often misunderstood, but essential, species."

The touch pool will include several species of stingrays and sharks, including southern stingrays, coral cat sharks, bullnose rays, blue-spotted stingrays, epaulette sharks,white-spotted bamboo sharks, and cow nose stingrays. There will also be a huge LED screen behind the touch pool that highlights more of the species.

This is the largest project the Aquarium has undertaken since 2014, and vice president and managing director Rich Toth tell Louisiana Weekend “Sharks play a vital role in top-down maintenance of ocean ecosystems around the world. Our hope is that by reaching into the touchpool creates a connection, sparking action to protect marine life and the ocean."

Tickets must be purchased in advance, and you can get them online here.


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