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Swim with the sharks at Point Defiance Aquarium

For the first time ever, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium visitors have the opportunity to come eye to eye with 17 sharks in a 240,000 gallon aquarium. (Ingrid Barrentine/Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium)

It might seem unnatural, but thrill-seekers will no doubt jump at the chance to dive down and swim with sharks at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma.

For the first time ever, visitors will come eye to eye with 17 sharks in a 240,000 gallon aquarium.

These aren’t little fish, but great, big beasts with sharp teeth. In the tank are a 450-pound lemon shark, a sandbar shark, a school of nurse sharks, and a sand tiger shark, among others.

There are two different options for divers:

-Cage Dive: For non-certified divers ages 8 and up. No prior diving experience is necessary. Price: $50 for zoo members and $65 for non-members.

-Scuba Dive: For certified scuba divers ages 15 and up. Price: $160 for zoo members and $175 for non-members. Reservations are required.

Divers slip on a dry suit over their clothes and plunge into the warm, 75 degrees, salt water for about 20 minutes. The tank is about 13 feet deep.

“The main goal of this program is to publicize the plight of sharks worldwide and to inspire people right here in Puget Sound to help protect and conserve marine life for future generations,” said zoo deputy director John Houck in a news release. “We want our visitors to leave with a pledge to take action that will help save sharks.”

Houck said 38 million sharks are killed each year for their fins and the zoo wants visitors to urge Congress to pass laws protecting sharks.

Dives begin Oct. 11. More information

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Stephanie Klein

Stephanie joined the team in February 2008. She has built the site into a two-time National Edward R. Murrow Award winner (Best Radio Website 2010, 2012). Email Stephanie at


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