Cleaning with Sharks
From the left a sand tiger shark approaches, from the right a southern stingray. Suddenly a nurse shark comes up from behind and passes about a meter over the diver's head. Diver Jen looks ahead, takes a deep breath and gives the OK-sign. "Hi and welcome to Newport Aquarium's dive show!", she greets the audience behind the acrylic glass window of the Cynergy theatre.
The area around Cincinnati in the Midwest of the United States is not exactly known as an eldorado for divers. It is located hundreds of miles from the nearest coast, the distance to the Great Lakes is roughly the same and the closest lakes suitable for divers are about an hour's drive away. There is, however, one attraction for divers: Newport Aquarium, located in Kentucky opposite downtown Cincinnati on the south bank of the Ohio River.
The planning of the aquarium began in 1990. It was the brainchild of five local businessmen who wanted to share their interest in underwater flora and fauna with their fellow citizens. Seven years elapsed before the laying of the foundation stone but afterwards it only took 18 months until the aquarium finally opened its doors to the
public on May 15, 1999. The visitors stroll through 12 different galleries, ranging from rivers from around the world, exhibitions about bizarre and beautiful creatures like the Giant Pacific Octopus, the flooded forests of the Amazon to a coral reef with its variety of tropical fish. The absolute climax of the walk through the aquarium is the gallery "Surrounded by Sharks", a walk in an acrylic tunnel through a shark tank. It is a fantastic opportunity to observe sharks, rays and loggerhead sea turtles up close while still staying dry! A distinctive feature of the tunnels is that, in contrast to similar ones, they were built seamlessly in one piece, thus affording the illusion of being totally immersed in the water, without being distracted by lines on the glass.