Students at 28th Elementary meet rare ‘walking shark’
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Some elementary students conquered their fears Thursday, while others had a blast reaching into a real, live shark tank.
The Mississippi Aquarium’s Mobile Marine Unit pulled up to 28th Street Elementary School packed with a surprise.
The students were taught about different shark species, their characteristics, fossils, teeth and more before getting up-close and personal with an epaulette shark.
With two fingers, each student was invited to softly pet the predator in its mobile tank.
“Most people would think that the shark would bite their hand off, but, actually, it felt really nice,” third grader Norman Armstrong told WLOX. “I’ve still got both of them.”
The epaulette shark is one marine animal that most people on the Mississippi Coast would not typically encounter as the long-tailed carpet shark species is native to Australia and New Guinea. Its fins double as feet, which allows the shark to move over land as well.
“I was scared at first because I thought it was like super scary and little creepy crawler,” fourth grader Ava Galiano said. “But then, whenever I got to touch it, it was super smooth and nice, and it didn’t even mess with me.”
The interactive experience was part of the Mississippi Aquarium’s latest outreach event of its ongoing Changing Tides Festival, which celebrates the facility’s first-ever expansion.
The 10-day festival continues until Monday with a craft fair scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.
Entry to the aquarium is free for all first responders until Monday.
Click here to subscribe to WLOX News on YouTube: Keep up with South Mississippi news, sports, and local events on our YouTube channel!
Copyright 2023 WLOX. All rights reserved.