North America’s largest collection of scalloped hammerhead sharks now on exhibit
NEWPORT, Ky. — Newport Aquarium’s all-new Shark Bridge – the only rope suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk just inches above nearly two dozen sharks – is scheduled to open to the public 10 a.m. Thursday, April 30.
The Shark Bridge is a 75-foot-long, V-shaped rope bridge suspended over the open waters of the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit’s 385,000-gallon tank. Should guests dare to cross, the Shark Bridge offers the thrill of walking closely atop sharks, shark rays, stingrays and hundreds of fish from an unrivaled vantage point.
“For our thrill-seeking guests who dare to cross, Shark Bridge is a breathtaking way to experience sharks like never before,” said Eric Rose, executive director at Newport Aquarium. “It’s an adventure that you can only get at Newport Aquarium.”
A family-friendly attraction, Shark Bridge is included with admission to Newport Aquarium.
Commemorating the opening of the Shark Bridge, Newport Aquarium has added extremely rare scalloped hammerhead sharks into the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.
After the scalloped hammerheads went into the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit April 27-29, Newport Aquarium now has the largest collection of scalloped hammerhead sharks on display in North America, as well as one of the largest in the world.
Each of Newport Aquarium’s scalloped hammerhead sharks were born in 2014 during the months of June and July near Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii, one of the most the most stable breeding grounds for the endangered species. Over time, these juveniles will triple in size as adult scalloped hammerhead sharks can grow up to 14 feet in length and more than 300 pounds.
“There are less than 20 institutions in the world with scalloped hammerhead sharks on exhibit,” said Chris Pierson, Newport Aquarium operations director. “Newport Aquarium is proud to be the only place in the Midwest that exhibits such a magnificent species of shark, and we are committed to educating our community about the importance of protecting this endangered species.”
Guests who pass through the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit can learn about the scalloped hammerhead conservation organizations the WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium is supporting – the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii and the Costa Rica-based nonprofit Misión Tiburón.
In June 2014, scalloped hammerheads became the first species of shark protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Shark Bridge Facts
It took approximately 788 hours of labor to fabricate, build and install the Shark Bridge.
More than 4 miles (approximately 21,750 feet) of rope was used to construct the Shark Bridge.
Approximately 1.5 tons (3,460 pounds) of steel were used to construct the Shark Bridge.
The addition of the Shark Bridge has tripled the viewing area that surrounds the shark tank for guests prior to exiting Newport Aquarium’s exhibits area.
Cincinnati-based GBBN Architects and THP Limited Inc. designed and engineered the Shark Bridge, with construction beginning in February and concluding in mid-April.
International Cordage Inc. out of Phoenix, Ariz. produced and installed the Shark Bridge.
Shark Research Group, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii
Headquartered at the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, the SRG’s goal is to gain a better understanding of the activities of adult scalloped hammerhead sharks in order to learn more about how to protect the species. The SRG is using satellite tags to record the distance traveled by female adult scalloped hammerheads that give birth at Kaneohe Bay, as well as studying behavior patterns of male scalloped hammerheads to learn their motivations for visiting the area.
Misión Tiburón, Costa Rica
While the scalloped hammerhead population near Hawaii is sustainable, most other distinct population segments around the world are at endangered levels, primarily due to overfishing. Such is the case near Costa Rica, where the nonprofit organization Misión Tiburón is leading efforts to educate the public about scalloped hammerhead’s threats, their nursery areas and how to keep them protected. Misión Tiburón believes harmful acts like finning will decrease when locals take pride in nearby marine life through education and awareness.
Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.
One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444