As network television actively depicts people proving they’re smart enough to be a millionaire or have more brains than the weakest link, along comes the Oregon Coast Aquarium Web site’s Central Shark and tons of information and activities for any one wanting to be “shark savvy.” Take a walk through Central Shark from the Aquarium’s home page at http://www.aquarium.org/education/spotlight/central_shark/index.htm and check out the “cool factor” of sharks versus dolphins.
“Today, we settle that age-old debate once and for all—which are cooler, dolphins or sharks?” Jim Wharton, aquarium educational specialist explained. "This site is all about opinions. Namely, negative public opinions of sharks and what we can do to change them. These animals are vital components of marine ecosystems and fascinating creatures in their own right. Sharks have been the villains for long enough. At Central Shark, they're the heroes."
What follows at Central Shark is a comparison of dolphins and sharks in 14 key areas, including evolution, skeleton, teeth, reputation, body form, feeding style, intelligence and conservation status. Each area includes an illustration, an information summary and a vote being cast for sharks or dolphins. (The final score? You’ll have to check the Web site at http://www.aquarium.org to see who won.)
Central Shark includes fun, educational Activities section, including an online shark quiz, a leopard shark coloring sheet, a math and problem-solving section on basking sharks and great whites as well as a printable “Save the Sharks” flyer showing seven ways you can help conserve these threatened swimmers of the deep. “Shark Links” provides listings of other shark-related Web sites for those interested in expanding their knowledge and understanding of sharks.
The Central Shark section “Watch For…” provides teasers for upcoming site features, including “Sharks of the Oregon Coast” (a comprehensive guide to sharks and their relatives in our part of the Pacific), “Shark Diversity” (shape, color and habitat for sharks may surprise you) as well as new activities and quizzes, feature stories and frequently asked questions. Web-surfers with ideas and suggestions for Central Shark are encouraged to post them to Wharton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium Web site communicates many things. From educational programs to the latest news, the award-winning site provides a virtual 360-degree window to the Aquarium. A popular section tells the story of Keiko, from his move from Mexico, to his spacious pool in Newport, to his return home to Iceland. There is also a section for teachers, with activities to do in the classroom. Visitors can find a travel planner, live shark cams of Passage of the Deep, on-line gift shop and more. The editorial staff at LYCOS TOP 5%, one of the most popular and prestigious Web site directories, selected the Aquarium’s site as one of the finest on the Internet.
Aquarium educators have developed curriculum and programs for schools on various marine topics for students from preschool through twelfth grade, along with an outreach program to deliver marine science educational opportunities to students and teachers in Oregon and southwest Washington. Online teacher’s materials and lesson plans are also available and can be downloaded from the Aquarium’s Web site at http://www.aquarium.org.
Aquarium volunteer Steve Dickey is the site’s Webmaster, while Jim Wharton is the creator of the education web link.
The Aquarium is open every day except December 25. Hours beginning Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Labor Day up to Memorial Day weekend.
Oregon Coast Aquarium admission is $10.25 for general admission, $9.25 for seniors (65+), $6.25 for youth 4—13, and children three and under are free. Advance tickets can be purchased on-line at http://www.aquarium.org or by calling 1-541-867-3474. Group rates are available when requested.