While families only had one day this summer to “sleep with the sharks” at Atlantis Long island Aquarium, they can swim with sand sharks, tiger sharks and nurse sharks (as well as moray eels and Queensland groupers) several times at week in a 120,000 tank.
“A lot of people who participate in the dives are afraid of the sharks at first, but learn to conquer their fear in the water,” noted Aquarist Maggie Seiler. “That’s always a lot of fun for me, being that person who exposed them to something new,” she said. “At the end they love it.”
No diving certificate is needed, although all participants must sign a liability waiver before entering the tank. They are then provided with everything necessary for their adventure, including a wetsuit, scuba gear and an underwater mask that allows them to breath normally and underwater communications. Experienced trainers accompany everyone.
Dives are conducted daily at 11 am, limited to 8 people at a time. Cost is $160+ tax (on equipment only) for Aquarium members and $165+ tax (on equipment and admissions) for non-members. The price also includes a souvenir shark tooth and towel.
The Long Island Aquarium also offers other programs for those who prefer getting up close and personal with less fearsome creatures, including a 45-minute long encounter with African penguins, as well as the chance to become a seal/sea lion trainer for a day. In addition, kids 9-14 can participate in the “Scientist for a Day” program through the aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute.
The Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center is located at 431 E. Main St., Riverhead, NY. For more information on the aquarium’s programs, contact the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center at 631 208-9200 ext. 426.