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Sharks are headed to a location near you

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium will introduce a new mobile shark tank featuring sharks and stingrays on July 25. The Museum & Aquarium is one of the only aquariums in the Midwest with a mobile shark touch tank. This tank, funded by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, will be part of a new outreach program titled Ocean Odyssey. Thanks to a new outreach vehicle supported by the Dubuque Racing Association and Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, Ocean Odyssey will begin travel to schools and programs within a 100 mile radius this fall.

Ocean Odyssey will help break down common misconceptions surrounding sharks and rays, highlighting the unique adaptations these animals have to survive. The program will also allow participants to explore the important roles sharks and rays play in the ecosystem, learn how the actions of people in the landlocked Tri-State area impact sharks and rays that live thousands of miles away, and discover how people can help protect them. Afterwards, participants may get their hands wet and touch some of these animals.

“The mobile aquarium is a perfect opportunity to educate local audiences on declining shark and ray populations, and allows us to talk about how zoos and aquariums around the world are coming together to save these animals from extinction through the SAFE program,” said Jennifer Drayna, the Museum & Aquarium’s education and outreach coordinator. Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) is a program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) that educates and promotes conservation efforts related to specific species, including sharks and rays.

The mobile tank will be featured at the Museum & Aquarium July 25-27 and August 1-3 for shark ambassador meet and greets from 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. each day. During these first two weeks, the sharks will only be available for meet and greets while staff continue touch training. The Museum & Aquarium is now accepting bookings for Ocean Odyssey programs beginning this fall.