There’s a new predator coming to WS

The Oceanography class welcomes a baby shark to school


Connor Zimmerman

Shark Specialist Wilson came to WS in early April to teach Oceanography students about sharks and misconceptions that surround them. Not only are they primarily harmless, but they can also be fun as well.

Owais Khan, Staff Writer

Bringing a live shark out of the ocean is already quite the task. Bringing one into the halls of West Springfield is a herculean one. Fortunately, there are always people up for a challenge. In early April, Glen Echo Park Aquarium’s outreach program, Under the Sea, sent shark specialist Mr. Wilson to the oceanography class for a special presentation.

The Under the Sea outreach program travels throughout the area, presenting everywhere from schools to birthdays to scout meetings and even libraries. They like to create “interactive experiences” for all who attend. This time they brought not only models of shark spines and real shark teeth, but also two baby sharks in a large cooler. However, before he showed them off, Wilson delivered an extensive presentation that he prepared that was all about sharks and how they live, including their diet, habits, environments, and most importantly, ability to coexist with humans.

“One reason why we do this is to raise awareness,” said Wilson. “People often have huge misconceptions about sharks and how they pose a danger to us, but the reality of the situation is that they don’t pose that huge of a danger to us. In fact, we pose a danger to them.”

The presentation contained a large segment about overfishing and how it can affect sharks. Sharks are at  the top of the food chain, so when too many are caught in nets or too much of their food is killed due to overfishing, it can be tough on the rest of the ecosystem.

“People do have this misconception about how dangerous a shark is, but the fact of the matter is that you have a larger chance of having a vending machine fall on you than getting eaten by a shark,” said Wilson. “Movies like Jaws or Sharknado, while fun, are very unrealistic portrayals of sharks.”

Of course; then came  stars of the show: the live sharks. There were  two sharks. One baby bamboo shark and one adult bamboo shark. Wilson took them out of their cooler, but the baby shark was very sedentary and mostly slept during the show. The bigger one was much more active , however, twirling and squirming about throughout the entire presentation.

“It’s a tough job getting these guys out and about, but I make it work,” said Wilson. Sometimes [shark trainers] get bites and the such, but it’s really no big deal for me since these guys are pretty tiny.”

Finally, he allowed many audience members in the presentation to pet the sharks. They were slimy, to say the least.