Shark Week 2024: 5 best places to experience sharks in North Carolina

Shark Week 2024: 5 best places to experience sharks in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Gerald Schömbs/Unsplash.

By Ellery Weil

July 5, 2024

From touch tanks to diving expeditions, here are five places to celebrate Shark Week in North Carolina.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Shark Week 2024 is almost here!

For those who are unfamiliar, Shark Week started as an annual event on the Discovery Channel, where shark-related content runs for seven days each summer. This can include anything from educational programs on the role of sharks in different ecosystems, to some of the most outrageous shark-themed films imaginable (“Sharknado,” anyone?). Since its inception, Shark Week has developed a cult following, with fans throwing watch parties, and even making special shark-themed treats to enjoy alongside the programming.

But Shark Week, which begins on July 7 this year, isn’t just for watching TV, especially for North Carolinians. The Tar Heel State is home to over 300 miles of scenic coastline … including shark-infested waters! Not that you need to worry — there are plenty of fun, safe, and educational hands-on ways to enjoy Shark Week in North Carolina, whatever part of the state you’re in.

Learn about sharks and meet one up close at the Catawba Science Center

You don’t need to be at the coast to meet some of the sharks of North Carolina in person!

The Catawba Science Center in Hickory, in the western part of the state, has one of the 150 best aquariums in the country according to EverythingFishkeeping.com. It houses both saltwater and freshwater tanks, as well as its very own shark residents.

Visitors can watch sharks swimming among stingrays in an exhibition that allows guests to get right up to the water’s edge. Just watch your fingers!

Get a “feel” for sharks at a Touch Tank in Cape Fear

Everyone loves a petting zoo — but as cute as lambs and goats are, Cape Fear’s North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has something a little different for you to try.

Since 2012, their “touch pool” has offered visitors the chance to pet the aquatic creatures of the Carolina coast — including dog sharks. Not only that, but through July, they’re celebrating their “31 Days of Sharks” event to learn about sharks and their role in NC ecosystems. And remember, while you’re there, check out the aquarium’s many residents, including a family of otters and a rare albino alligator!

Go shark-watching in Cape Hatteras

When North Carolinians think of Cape Hatteras, they might picture beach trips with family and friends, or the iconic lighthouse. But they should also be thinking of sharks.

Specifically, Cape Hatteras is one of the spots in North Carolina where sharks are most commonly sighted. Pack a picnic and head out to the Outer Banks for a day by the water and see if you can spot a shark — the most common to see are sand tiger sharks, but you might also see a hammerhead, or even a great white! 

Explore Hendersonville’s own Shark Lab

Sharks are cool, but they’re also important predators that help keep ocean ecosystems thriving. In Hendersonville, the Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO is not only North Carolina’s first inland aquarium and a place to meet some sharks and learn about coastal and ocean ecosystems, but it’s also a working laboratory studying shark behavior.

The aquarium is temporarily closed to the public while one of their stingrays undergoes medical care, but will reopen as soon as possible, and in the meantime, their team’s research continues at field sites across the country.

Take an expedition that’ll “shiver your timbers” off the NC coast

Did you know that the coast off of North Carolina is sometimes called “the graveyard of the Atlantic”?

For centuries, shipwrecks have scattered the waters off of the Tar Heel State, from pirate wreckage to the remains of German U-boats from World War Two. And if that wasn’t dramatic enough, those wrecks aren’t abandoned — they’re home to Sand Tiger sharks!

For a true North Carolina adventure, Olympus Dive Centre offers five-day “sharks and wrecks” scuba diving expeditions to see the wrecks, and go head-to-head with sharks! These expeditions are pricy, and recommended for experienced divers only — if they dare!

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Shark Week 2024: 5 best places to experience sharks in North CarolinaShark Week 2024: 5 best places to experience sharks in North Carolina

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