The Other Sharks In The Desert : Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

Well, the jellyfish were cool.

Posted by Miss Monkay

In an effort to keep away from the tables in our most recent visit, Jackpots and myself decided to checkout other activities in Vegas. Now believe it or not, Jackpots has interests outside of pulling cash out of slots. Her and Mr. Jackpots are avid diver and have visited many of the great diving spots around the globe, so when I mentioned a visit to the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, she was all for it.

After arriving at the Bay and dragging her away from the Blazing 7's slots, we found our way to the back of the property to the Shark Reef. We shelled out $16 each and entered the 'sunken temple'. Immediately we were hit with a wave of humidity. Being that we were in Vegas, the loss of A/C was the last thing we expected and not exactly welcome.

The attraction is meant to mimic an underwater temple in the far east replete with a shipwreck in the famed million-plus gallon tank, tropical plants and piped in jungle noises, but what it really brought to mind was 'Indiana Jones' ride at Disneyland.

The first exhibit was two separate enclosures of Indonesian Golden Alligators. While the smallness of the pen made it possible for me to get the closest look at an alligator I have ever had, it was somewhat depressing. The size of the enclosure was highlighted by the gator when he couldn't clear the wall when climbing out of his water source. He jammed his snout against it and had to turn away to haul his entire body out. It was a clear reminder that this ancient animal is jailed and on display for our 'amusement'. It was more sad than entertaining in my opinion, but call me a bleeding heart animal lover.

In the center of the attraction is an open area with a lion fish tank, a jelly fish tank and a touch tank which was surrounded by several children. The touch pool was interesting and i managed to get a feel of a baby shark, which was surprisingly rough, but the ray buried in the sand that I reached out to gave me a start when abruptly 'jumped' from it's hiding place. It was not until after i had moved on from the pool that one of the attendants announced that we should be touching the fish with a closed fist which I wish I heard before reaching in. I gave a little silent thanks for not loosing a fanger.

The jellyfish nearby were enclosed in a large aquatic cylinder, which was most entrancing despite its lack of decoration. There were what seemed like hundreds of fish in several different sizes, from babies to fully grown and they all seemed to move in sync, dancing to a silent rhythm. The fine 'hairs' at the end of the fish were the most fascinating and hard to believe were capable of delivering the deadly stings they are famous for. Being able to get that close to see the inner workings of the jellyfish could have easily kept me entertained for hours, even without drugs.

The big draw of the Reef was the million-plus gallon tank, home to the largest of the sharks, including the newest advertised species of the saw shark. We only got a short look at these of these weird looking creatures so I am still unsure if there are more than one living there. There were a couple other unidentified (to me) shark species in the tank, one of which had a pretty frightening set of teeth, clearly visible when it swam by the glass. None of the sharks were that massive, nor awe-inspiring, but that is not to say that I wouldn't offer them the right-of-way should I run into one in the ocean. The tank also was home to several other fish and eel, but the sharks were the main draw.

I did catch a sight of a rather impressively sized turtle swimming at the top of the tank, but it disappointingly never came close enough for me to get anything other than a underside silhouette view.

There were two underwater tunnels through the aquariums which gave us the ability to see the underside of some of the fish and shark which was nice. The downside was that the tunnels seemed to be the number one resting choice for everyone. There really was no place to stop due to all the sitting people so we didn't get to spend any time there as we would have liked.

In general the fish that we saw were not that impressive; several of those fish I can see at my local pet store. I was most interested in seeing some puffer fish, only caught sight of one swimming once and never reappeared. The truth of the matter was, I found the tank at the Mirage check-in desk to be more entrancing, and that was free.

Overall, If you are looking for something entertain your fish-loving kids then the Shark Reef is recommended but you are a true marine life-lover then you may just want give this a pass.

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Comments & Discussion

this is an overpriced novelty. you're really better off visiting a regular aquarium or Sea World even. there's a few spots like the tunnel which are cool to view. but it quickly grows old since the place is quite small. i'm certain that the Secret Garden at the Mirage must be similar in this sense.

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