Have you ever touched a shark? Shark Week is coming to SLO County aquarium

A Cal Poly student surfer was attacked by a great white shark in January, and a Los Osos woman resident escaped the powerful jaws of an 11-to 12-footer in 2015 — but how dangerous are sharks to humans?

A San Luis Obispo County aquarium will seek to provide the answer to that and other questions during its upcoming Shark Week event.

The Central Coast Aquarium is exploring sharks at the same time as Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week celebration. The aquarium’s Shark Week festivities kick off Sunday at 50 San Juan St. in Avila Beach and run through Saturday, Aug. 3

Exhibits, educational videos, talks and arts and crafts related to the world of sharks will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Monday, when the aquarium is closed.

From the feeding habits of massive great whites to the bottom-cruising meanderings of little leopard sharks on the ocean’s floor, the aquarium aims to separate fact from fiction.

“We’re mainly hoping to debunk the widespread belief that sharks are scary,” said Travis Norton, Central Coast Aquarium’s director of programming. “They are a top predator and important in the ecosystem, but we as humans do hunt them more than they hunt us.”

Juvenile Swell Shark.jpg
Juvenile swell sharks like the one pictured here are on display at the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach. Courtesy photo

Four different types of sharks will be on display at the aquarium during Shark Week.

Adults and kids can touch live swell sharks, which feel “smooth one way and rough the other way,” Norton said, and feel the teeth of an megalodon, a now-extinct shark species that once roamed the ocean millions of years ago.

Shark embryos encased in eggs — leathery pods known as mermaid purses — also will be on display.

Shark lessons will be offered on Sunday, Tuesday, and Saturday, according to the aquarium.

Shark-themed crafts will be hosted on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Free story time will be held daily on the grassy area in front of the park.

“Most of activities are for elementary kids, except for a story time for younger kids held every day at 1 p.m.,” Norton said. “There are definitely things that all ages can learn.”

For more information, call 805-595-7280 or go to www.centralcoastaquarium.com.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.