Sharks main content.


Part of Milstein Science Series

Credit: Ken Bondy

One of the sea’s most misunderstood animals, sharks have inhabited the oceans for 400 million years and play an important role in the ocean’s biodiversity. Visitors will join Curator John Maisey in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for an exciting program that features interactive presentations by scientists, Q&A sessions, and hands-on activities, as well as unique opportunities to examine shark and ray specimens from the Museum’s scientific collections.

This Milstein Science Series program features interactive presentations by scientists, Q&A sessions, and hands-on activities; unique opportunities to examine shark and ray specimens from the Museum’s scientific collections; and a special performance for families. 

Activities and games will include:

Hands-On Exploration Stations and Games
11 am-4 pm

I’m a Shark, You’re OK
There are over 400 species of sharks — tiny and enormous, spotted and striped, and even bioluminescent. Discover how diverse and amazing they are by joining a large-scale game that sends sharks “swimming” throughout the Museum. Make a spectacular shark hat, roam the halls as you complete fun shark missions, or become a Shark Spotter and find all the species that have been let loose. 

Play a series of exciting mini-games to determine what evolutionary path your shark species will take to become an entirely new species. Snap a picture of a tuna to get the powerful jaws of a Mako; hide in a kelp bed to get a Leopard Shark’s spots; run circles around mackerel to gain a Thresher’s long tail. Once you’ve collected all the features, put them together to create a unique species you can take home with you.

Expert Presentations
Join host John Maisey with marine biologists Gavin Naylor and Greg Skomal for a lively on-stage conversation on the remarkable anatomy, diversity, and evolutionary history of sharks. Experts will respond to your questions about these mysterious, often feared animals.

Who Wants to Be an Elasmobranchologist (Shark Scientist)?
12:30 | 2:15 pm | 3 pm
Get ready to put your shark facts to the test! This is a game show that will pit two shark-loving teams against each other to test their knowledge of these amazing denizens of the sea.  As the tension mounts in the hot seat, our scientists will be available to lend a hint or two, offering their expertise. 

Live Skype Event: Meet Fabien Cousteau
1:30 pm | 2:30 pm
Join Fabien Cousteau on Mission 31, a voyage 63 feet beneath the surface to Aquarius, the world’s only underwater habitat and lab.  Learn what it is like to follow in the footsteps of Fabien’s grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and explore the mysteries of the ocean.  In these two sessions, Fabien will share shark tales and other adventure stories as well as explain the human-ocean connection and why we all need to protect marine ecosystems.

Performance: Beizam (Shark) Dance 
3:15 pm
Inspired by the shores of the Torres Strait Islands, just to the North of Australia and close to Papua New Guinea, master Aboriginal didgeridoo artist and dancer Cameron McCarthy shares how sharks play an important role in Aboriginal cultural life, introduced by Jennifer Newell, Curator of Pacific Ethnology. A Q&A session will follow.

Cameron McCarthy is a descendant of the Kuku-Yalanji tribe on his mother’s side and the Mbabarum, Mamu and Yidinji tribes on his father’s side. He is currently a member of the Robby Romero & Red Thunder band however he is also the Cultural Affairs Officer for the Australian Consulate – General in New York, the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations in New York, and the Embassy of Australia in Washington D.C.

Helpful Shark links featuring Curator John Maisey, Fabien Cousteau and Gavin Naylor:

Visit Fabien Cousteau's Mission31

Read a blog post about the ancient shark fossil which revealed new insights into jaw evolution.

Watch a video on the same subject:

The Milstein Science Series is proudly sponsored by the Irma and Paul Milstein Family.