We realize segments of the population will skip the Olympics Closing Ceremonies Sunday night to watch the villains of the sea, sitting like hypnotized zombies during the televised cult-following known as Discovery Channel's Shark Week.
But if you like your sharks up-close and in-person, we've found some "jawsome" places for you to ramp up for Shark Week, which begins at 9 p.m.
The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has a year-round outdoor Shark Lagoon with more than 150 sharks, three tanks of which you are safe to touch. The popular attraction is always a hit with children and adults, who shove up their sleeves and pair two fingers to dip in the water and gently stroke the Bamboo and epaulette sand sharks.
There are bigger sharks in bigger tanks that afford nose-to-glass-to-snout viewing from underwater, where you can see sand tiger, zebra, and whitetip reef sharks, as well as the freshwater sawfish, which is one of the more unusual creatures—you won't mistake it for a shark.
Presentations, inter-active exhibits and feedings you can watch are daily fare. And the best news is that Sunday (and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) are part of Discounted Late Nights, where hours are extended.
Other aquariums in Southern California:
- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's shark exhibit features a preserved baby great white shark, the jaws of several types of sharks and a large tank filled with horn, swell and leopard sharks. The aquarium also has a fiberglass model of an adult great white shark hanging from the ceiling. Visitors can also check out leopard and horn sharks interact with other marine life in the "don't touch" area of the aquarium's outdoor Touch Tank. Cabrillo also features shark egg cases—also known as "mermaids' purses"—in a small tank near its kelp forest exhibit.
- , Manhattan Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach
Located at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier, the Roundhouse Aquarium features animals native to the Santa Monica Bay. It also has a 3,500-gallon shark tank with sharks, moray eels and other fish, as well as a ray and baby shark tank where people can see thornback rays, baby leopard sharks, baby horn sharks and flat fish.
- , 1021 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach
Redondo Beach's SEA Lab helps rehabilitate injured marine life from the Santa Monica Bay. Every Saturday at noon, the aquarium allows guests to feed the fish—including the occasional shark—in the tidepool tank for $2.
Of course, the most gas-conserving place to see sharks is in your own home via Shark Cam, which affords you beautiful scenes of live sharks via UStream.
"You are watching live video of sharks (and many other marine animals) in the "Ocean Voyager" exhibit at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. This live feed is provided by our partners, Ustream," Discovery Channel explains on its site.
Shark Cam will be live throughout August 2012 from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST each day.