An aquarium in the middle of the desert celebrates 15 years

An aquarium in the middle of the desert celebrates 15 years
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is the third largest in North America. It celebrates 15 years with discounts and giveaways on Saturday. (Shark Reef Aquarium)



celebrates 15 years of taking guests into the depths of the ocean and bringing them face-to-face with some of the world’s most menacing predators of the land and sea.

On Saturday, June 20, the attraction offers discounted tickets and more opportunities to touch the bearded dragons, ball pythons, sea stars and urchins that inhabit the aquarium.

Also throughout the day, guests will be randomly selected for a behind-the-scenes tour, located above the 1.3-million gallon Shipwreck exhibit.

When the Shark Reef Aquarium was conceived in the mid 1990s, organizers wanted something different in the middle of the desert, a full-size aquarium for research, conservation and education. The 1.9-million gallon aquarium is one of the largest in North America.

The $60-million aquarium was designed with the idea of immersing the visitor into this underwater world in the desert. Since opening on June 20, 2000, nearly 1 million visitors have walked through every year.

Guests can wander through The Jungle, where golden crocodiles and komodo dragons rule. The Shark Reef area of the exhibit contains the temple with a touch pool. Here find horseshoe crabs, rays and sometimes baby zebra shark. The Shipwreck is touted as the third largest in North America and is home to green sea turtles, sand tiger sharks, green sawfish and a Bowmouth guitarfish, an addition on the 10th anniversary of the exhibit.

Tickets on Saturday go for $10 for guests age 13 and older and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.