Hungry sharks arrive in Tulsa

Monday, April 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Monsters of the deep are lurking near the Arkansas River. It's still several months until the grand opening, but the main attraction has already arrived at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks.

The sharks are here, and as News on Six reporter Steve Berg explains, they're hungry for attention. You can see them, but they're also watching you. Oklahoma Aquarium biologist, Mark Stuart, "They're showing interest in people as we walked around the tank." And it's been more than a week since they ate. "This is the first feeding we've had for them since we got 'em in."

Half a dozen, lemon and bull sharks. Big ones. "A lot of people really didn't think that bull sharks of this size could be transported, it had never been attempted before." Surprisingly, the meanest predator in the ocean is a little fragile when it comes to travel. "The travel is so stressful that believe it or not, the shark isn't very hungry, but you still probably wouldn't want to stick your hand in the tank."

Biologists say this group has adapted exceptionally well. Oklahoma Aquarium biologist, Kenny Alexopoulos, "this one here would really love to have more. That means the animals weren't as stressed as we thought and our water quality is as good as we hoped it could be, so they're really feeling good." Good for the shark, bad for swimmers.

"They're known to be an aggressive shark, they're known to have attacked man." The problem is bull sharks like all the same shallow beach areas that we do, plus it favors murky water, where it's hard to tell people from prey. "A lot of times they bite first and ask questions later." But at the Oklahoma Aquarium, you and the shark will both get a good look. In fact the permanent tank will be a one-of-a-kind wonder. "It's not going to have any obstructions of concrete it's a seamless all acrylic dome and tunnel that as far as I know has not been done before." So you and your finned friend will be eyeball to eyeball.

The sharks range from 7 to 8 feet in length, and weight as much as 350 pounds. The Oklahoma Aquarium is due to open in the fall.