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New Shark City

An exhibit at the New York Aquarium showcases local sharks

Bebeto Matthews/AP Images

The three largest tanks in the shark exhibit collectively hold more than 800,000 gallons of water.

Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

New York City is a big, crowded place. Almost 9 million people live there. It’s one of the most diverse cities in the United States. So, too, are the ocean waters off the city’s coast. They’re full of thousands of species of marine mammals and fish, including sharks.

Most people never get to see these creatures up close in their natural environment. That’s why the New York Aquarium created a new exhibit called Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Visiting the exhibit is like walking through the ocean.

“The ocean is filled with wildlife,” says Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium. “In fact, there are 26 species of sharks that swim in the waters off New York City,” he says.

New York City is big. It is a crowded place. Almost 9 million people live there. It’s one of the most diverse cities in the United States. Also diverse are the ocean waters off the city’s coast. They’re full of thousands of species. They include marine mammals and fish, like sharks.

Most people never get to see these creatures in their natural environment. That’s why the New York Aquarium created a new exhibit. It’s called Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Visiting the exhibit is like walking through the ocean.

“The ocean is filled with wildlife,” says Jon Forrest Dohlin. He is the director of the New York Aquarium. “In fact, there are 26 species of sharks that swim in the waters off New York City,” he says.

Stormy Start

Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

Since the exhibit opened last summer, more than 550,000 people have visited. You’d never know it today, but the shark exhibit almost didn’t happen. Three days before construction was set to begin, Hurricane Sandy hit. The October 2012 storm battered the northeast coast. “That changed everything for us,” says Dohlin.

Parts of the aquarium flooded. Then the power went out. This stopped the pumps that filter water, add heat, and provide oxygen for fish to breathe.

Staff worked around the clock to save the aquarium’s 12,000 animals. Then, the aquarium repaired the damaged buildings.

During the repairs, Dohlin and the rest of the aquarium staff restarted work on the shark exhibit. Construction began in 2014. It took four years and cost $150 million to complete the project.

The exhibit opened last summer. More than 550,000 people have visited. But the shark exhibit almost didn’t happen. Three days before construction was set to begin, Hurricane Sandy hit. The October 2012 storm battered the northeast coast. “That changed everything for us,” says Dohlin.

Parts of the aquarium flooded. Then the power went out. This stopped the pumps. They filter water, add heat, and provide oxygen for fish to breathe. 

Staff worked around the clock. They wanted to save the aquarium’s 12,000 animals. Then the aquarium repaired the damaged buildings.

During the repairs, Dohlin and the rest of the aquarium staff restarted work on the shark exhibit. Construction began in 2014. It took four years. It cost $150 million to complete the project. 

Shark City

Many people see sharks only as fearsome predators. In fact, sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem. They keep other fish populations in check.

But shark populations are in trouble. Humans kill about 100 million sharks each year. (By comparison, there are about 10 shark attacks on humans each year.) This threatens the survival of many shark species. The New York Aquarium developed its new exhibit to explain these issues, so people can better understand sharks and their importance.

At Ocean Wonders, sharks create an impressive sight at the entrance. Visitors come through a tunnel as sharks and other fish swim beside and above them in a 120,000-gallon tank. Interactive displays explain sharks’ teeth, development, and senses. Videos show how aquarium scientists track sharks in the wild.

Then comes the big reveal: a replica of part of a canyon off the coast of New York that’s built into a tank. It’s the size of an Olympic pool. “Hundreds of animals are swimming in front of you,” says Dohlin. “It’s pretty powerful,” he says.

Dohlin loves watching visitors experience the exhibit, especially kids. “Aquariums are really interesting places,” he says. “They allow people to see something they would never see otherwise.”

Many people see sharks only as fearsome predators. In fact, sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem. They keep other fish populations in check.

But shark populations are in trouble. Humans kill about 100 million sharks each year. (By comparison, there are about 10 shark attacks on humans each year.) Humans threaten the survival of many shark species. The New York Aquarium developed its new exhibit to explain these issues. That is so people can better understand sharks and their importance.

At Ocean Wonders, sharks create an impressive sight at the entrance. Visitors come through a tunnel. Sharks and other fish swim beside and above them. The tank has 120,000 gallons of salt water. Interactive displays explain facts about sharks. You can learn about their teeth, development, and senses. Videos show how aquarium scientists track sharks in the wild.

Then comes the biggest tank. It’s a replica of part of a canyon off the coast of New York. It’s the size of an Olympic pool. “Hundreds of animals are swimming in front of you,” says Dohlin. “It’s pretty powerful,” he says.

Dohlin loves watching visitors experience the exhibit, especially kids. “Aquariums are really interesting places,” he says. “They allow people to see something they would never see otherwise.”

1.

A small rectangular pool is about 10 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. Label the model with these dimensions and solve for the pool’s volume.

A small rectangular pool is about 10 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. Label the model with these dimensions and solve for the pool’s volume.

2.

Cardinal tetra fish live in a rectangular tank that is about 80 inches long, 40 inches wide, and 75 inches tall. What is the tank’s volume?

Cardinal tetra fish live in a rectangular tank that is about 80 inches long, 40 inches wide, and 75 inches tall. What is the tank’s volume?

3.

A tank for African cichlids fish is 18 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 17 inches tall. Is this tank wider or taller? Explain.

A tank for African cichlids fish is 18 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 17 inches tall. Is this tank wider or taller? Explain.

4.

Some fish from Madagascar live in a tank that is 3 feet long, 18 inches wide, and 19 inches tall. What is the tank’s volume in cubic inches?

Some fish from Madagascar live in a tank that is 3 feet long, 18 inches wide, and 19 inches tall. What is the tank’s volume in cubic inches?

5A.

One tank in the shark exhibit is a rectangular prism. It has a volume of 720 cubic feet. The length of one side is 20 feet. The width is 17 feet less than the length. What is the width of the tank?

One tank in the shark exhibit is a rectangular prism. It has a volume of 720 cubic feet. The length of one side is 20 feet. The width is 17 feet less than the length. What is the width of the tank?

5B.

What is the height of the tank? Explain how you got your answer.

What is the height of the tank? Explain how you got your answer.

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