We have blogged about the current trend of commercial aquariums that allow "divers" into their enclosures for face to face encounters with sharks.
Like it or not this is a trend-and a poor one at that. Commercial aquaria were never constructed and designed as underwater public encounter spaces. In 98% of them-these for profit public encounters-are an afterthought. Basically these aquaria are becoming hybrid organizations at best.
Why not build a state of the art public dive encounter site complete with sharks, safety and education? Seems like a far fetched idea? We're closer than ever.
Here's the growing list of aquarium adventure dives for your review:
Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta. A whale shark, the world's largest fish, is the prime attraction. One 30-minute dive daily. There is also a swim option, with no diving experience required ($290; www.georgiaaquarium.org).
Florida Aquarium, Tampa. Dive with the Sharks. One 30-minute dive daily ($150; www.flaquarium.org).
National Aquarium, Baltimore. Wings in the Water and Atlantic Coral Reef tanks are available for diving. One 30-minute dive in each tank, every other Saturday. ($295; www.aqua.org).
Epcot Center, Orlando. Epcot Dive Quest, sharks, eagle rays, sea turtles, plus 60-plus fish species, 40-minute dive twice daily. ($150; disneyworld.disney.go.com).
Underwater Adventure at the Mall of America. Offers dives to Fisherman's Hollow and Shark Cove on Wednesday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons ($195). There is a swim option for those without diving experience: snorkeling Rainbow Reef, on Friday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings ($80; www.underwaterworld.com).