Live sharks make a big splash with local kids

It might not be a great white but for this young lady, the opportunity to touch this shark is one she will likely long remember. (Photo by Patricia Beech)

Newport Aquarium’s Wave on Wheels brings aquatic life to local libraries – 

By Patricia Beech – 

Families across across the county turned out last week for a close up and personal visit with live sharks at all four branches of the Adams County Library.
The program, which is sponsored by the Newport Aquarium’s non-profit WAVE Foundation, strives to engage and educate communities about the wonders of aquatic life and the importance of conservation.
“We bring animals out into the communities to teach people about them,” said Wave Foundation presenter Nicholas Callahan. “There are a lot of communities who do not get to experience these things in order to learn about them. By going out into the communities we’re able to teach people to be more conscientious about how their daily choices effect animals and their environments.”
Well over 100 adults and children attended the live shark event at the West Union Library on Friday, July 27.
Heather Davis brought her grandson, Jase.
“He’s watched Shark Week for days because he knew we were coming here,” she says. “He’s so excited because he gets to touch them.”
With Callahan and his assistant overseeing the event, one child after another stepped up and lowered a cautious hand into the shallow aquarium holding two small sharks.
“Rub from the head to the tail,” Callahan instructed the children. “Rub with, not against, their scales.”
According to Callahan, the shark program demystifies common misconceptions about sharks by allowing up-close and personal encounters with the creatures.
In addition to the live sharks, he also uses several animal artifacts in his presentation including a shark jaw, a can of shark fin soup, shark teeth, and shark eggs.
He says the goal is to help people discover how they can make a difference in shark conservation.
“I always say kids are an opportunity for a better future, and getting to do things like touching a live shark really implants that memory in a child’s brain,” he said. “Hopefully it will stay with them a long time and impact their future conservation choices.”