Vegas Values: Fin-tastic!

An aquatic adventure with marine life might be the last thing you’d expect in the dry Mojave Desert, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Cutting edge technology permits this predator-based attraction to serve as an excellent platform for research, conservation and education far from the ocean or any natural water source.

The Shipwreck tunnel provides a divers perspective
Photo by Kellee Kunovic

This underwater world is open daily. It allows visitors to see sharks of all kinds, along with sawfish, giant rays, piranha, moon jellies, lionfish and the rare green sea turtle, golden crocodile and Komodo dragon. Admission for Nevada residents with ID is $15. Regular price for adults is $18, $12 for children 5-12, and those under 4 are free.

The Shark Reef takes visitors on a journey through an ancient temple slowly sinking into the ocean. In the jungle, you’ll come across the rare golden crocodile and a recent addition to the Shark Reef, the eight foot Komodo dragon. He’s the largest of the species in the lizard family, he can reach ten feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. Just before leaving the Temple you’ll come to the piranha tank. These fish have razor sharp teeth that are actually sharper than shark teeth. Then, you’ll enter the Caribbean Reef featuring an array of tropical fish including parrotfish and pufferfish.

The largest of the 14 exhibits is the 1.3 million gallon sunken shipwreck. It is also the third largest tank in North America. Swarming above you, below you, and all around you are several species of sharks, stingray and sawfish. This tank is also home the tiniest inhabitant, the half-inch Blue Damsel. The Touch Pool allows guests to get up close and personal with stingrays at this interactive exhibit. Meanwhile, the moon jellies will entrance you and the Lionfish will lure you with their beautiful feathery, but toxic fins. But that’s not all, there are still a half dozen other exhibits to explore.

The Komodo Dragon is an endangered species
Photo courtesy of MGM Resort Int'l

Conservation plays a big role at the Shark Reef Aquarium, 90% of the aquarium water is recycled on a monthly basis. Protection of endangered or threatened species is equally important. That is why the Shark Reef takes great pride in caring for the Komodo dragon, sawfish, green sea turtles and arapaima (a tropical freshwater fish). The Galapagos shark, gray reef shark, southern fiddler ray and black piranha are also scarce species, but they can be seen at the Shark Reef. Last summer a female bowmouth guitarfish joined the Shark Reef family. Little is known about it and this shark ray is one of only a dozen in the United States. To learn more about these or any other inhabitants, the Shark Reef’s naturalists are available to answer any questions that visitors may have.

The Shark Reef Aquarium is located inside Mandalay Bay 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

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