ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – You may have heard it’s Shark Week. Some networks will take you around the world in search of great whites and other exotic tales. We are taking you to Shark Summer School just down the road: the St. Augustine Aquarium.
Visiting the site on State Road 16 just east of the factory outlets, we met Kathy Hiester and her team of mermaids and marine biologists to learn more about the sharks that swim through our salty water.
With the fundamental idea of “conservation through education” we started our tour by feeding the sharks. By hand!
With the help of marine biologists Hanna Lewis and Caitlin Holley, it was shark feeding time. With tongs in hand and a tasty shark snack, we fed the sharks.
These are not great whites or even one of the “tip” sharks we often see along our coast, these ingest food differently, but yet there is no question they have considerable power in the water.
They smell food, then swallow it whole. And to give you an idea of how strong the sharks’ suction is, they can actually suck a snail out of its shell from six inches away.
Between hors d’oeuvres of sushi fit for a shark, there are opportunities to pet them as they swim by. Just be careful where you reach.
The skin, which is made to cut through the water, feels different than it looks -- almost like sandpaper.