Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay plunges to new depths with its new Dive with Sharks program for hotel guests of Mandalay Bay and THEhotel. Thrill-seekers will experience a rush of adrenaline while diving side-by-side with dive guides and more than 30 sharks, including sandtiger, white tip and sandbar sharks, in a 1.3-million-gallon exhibit.
Dive with Sharks provides certified divers 18 years of age and older a rare chance to connect with these powerful creatures during an up-close educational program offering a deeper understanding of marine life. Throughout the four-hour experience, participants learn about shark health and behavior as well as Shark Reef Aquarium research projects that aid in the preservation of endangered species. To make the experience more intimate, the program is limited to two participants and one dive per day. Every dive is different as the sharks’ needs change daily.
‘We are pleased to introduce the Dive with Sharks experience, which will bring our guests even closer to these magnificent predators,’ said Adrienne Rowland, director of Shark Reef Aquarium. ‘This memorable adventure will appeal to anyone who loves underwater exploration and wants to learn more about these fascinating animals.’
The adventure begins at 3 p.m. when the program facilitator greets participants. During a guided tour of Shark Reef, the facilitator shares intriguing facts about the predator-based aquarium’s inhabitants. Next, participants receive dive and equipment orientation before changing into wetsuits and beginning their submerged journey.
General Curator Jack Jewell said, ‘The dive sessions we have created are very unique. During dives in the ocean, it is uncertain whether one or more sharks will swim close or appear at all. The Dive with Sharks program guarantees the opportunity to observe many sharks as well as a variety of other creatures including green sea turtles, sawfish and mesmerizing schools of fish.’
In developing this program, Mandalay Bay’s top priority was the safety and health of the animals and participants. A team of dedicated dive guides teach participants various safety procedures before the dive and provide a 2-to-1 guest-to-dive instructor ratio, ensuring personalized attention and safety throughout the dive.
Adam Schaffer, a Dive with Sharks participant, said, ‘Shark Reef Aquarium’s Dive with Sharks is truly a world-class experience. I felt like I was diving in five different oceans, and there were times I actually forgot I was in an aquarium.’
Hotel guests of Mandalay Bay or THEhotel can book the exclusive tour for $650 for a single diver or $1,000 for two divers booked together. The Dive with Sharks program includes a guided tour of Shark Reef Aquarium, supervised 45-minute dive and a post-dive snack. Shark Reef Aquarium provides all equipment ‘ a wetsuit, protective stainless steel chain maille as well as a mask, fins, tank, buoyancy-control device, regulator, weights and booties.
Additionally, guests receive a Dive with Sharks Certificate of Completion and a video of their dive to commemorate their experience. Participants also are able to bring up to four observers to view the dive from outside the exhibit. Observers enjoy complimentary admission to Shark Reef Aquarium and are welcome to join the introductory exhibit and behind-the-scenes tours.
All dive participants must present a valid certification card from a recognized dive instruction agency such as PADI or NAUI. Dive with Sharks is available four days a week ‘ Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Dive-certified guests of Mandalay Bay interested in the program may call (702) 632-4555 or visit www.mandalaybay.com or www.sharkreef.com for advance reservations. Shark Reef Aquarium has been accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 2003.