A Guide to the Best of Southern California : GOING PLACES : Shark Tales

TO MANY YOUNGSTERS,the shark is right up there with Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. The exhibit, "Sharks: Fact and Fantasy," at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County through Sept. 23, seeks to allay the irrational fears associated with these creatures of the deep. The largest and most comprehensive shark exhibit ever mounted, designed as an interactive experience and covering 6,000 square feet, it includes a walk-through diorama, featuring 17 species of shark, and displays of shark-related art pieces, such as the carving, "Ka'A'Manua" (or "The Shark Man," pictured), which relates the popular Solomon Islands legend about a man who became a shark. Children can stand in a set of fossil jaws from a creature large enough to swallow a small car, venture into the walk-in shark cage, see live shark embryos and pay a visit to a "seafood market" filled with "delicacies"--an 18th-Century French suit of armor and a torpedo--found in the stomachs of tiger sharks.

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