4 ways to celebrate Shark Week in metro Phoenix

    See new shark exhibits and programming at OdySea Aquarium all month. Photo courtesy of OdySea.

    Shark Week debuted on the Discovery Channel 29 years ago this month, and originally it was devoted to conservation efforts and correcting misconceptions about sharks. Today (Shark Week starts Sunday, July 23), it’s also a way for local aquariums and museums to pull you in with new exhibits and Shark Week themed programming!

    Whatever the reason, kids love sharks. Here are four ways to celebrate the ocean predators in the Sonoran Desert this week:

    1. Give blood, get free admission. Sea Life Arizona Aquarium is giving tickets for free aquarium admission to adults who donate blood to the American Red Cross from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 23 at 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle. (The Red Cross is facing a critical blood shortage and is needing donors of all blood types). Sea Life’s Shark Week Celebration kicks off the same day and spotlights some of the smaller and lesser-known shark breeds. Shark Week promises special activities, chances to see captive-bred baby epaulette sharks and even a quarantined epaulette shark egg at Sea Life. visitsealife.com/arizona

    Visitors can get a glimpse of the shark tank from the restrooms at OdySea Aquarium east of Scottsdale. Photo by Kate Greene.

    2. Stare at sharks from the restrooms. OdySea Aquarium near Scottsdale is the only place we know of where you can stare at sharks (and vice versa) from inside the restrooms. This month, OdySea also unveiled a new exhibit with five different species of sharks: the White Spotted Bamboo Shark, Brown Banded Bamboo Shark, Coral Catshark, Zebra Shark, and Epaulette Shark. For $10 (plus admission of $24.95-$34.95), visitors ages 6 and up can take a 30-minute All About Sharks tour to see sharks from above the water and to hear about their care and feeding. odyseaaquarium.com

    4. Hear from shark experts. This month, OdySea Aquarium is hosting hourlong Wednesday-night lectures and movie screenings with shark experts followed by time to explore the aquarium’s sharks. Separate aquarium admission is not required; tickets for the event are $5-$15, and all proceeds benefit the American Elasmobranch Society, a nonprofit conservation and research organization. On July 19, see a sneak-peek screening of Discovery’s new Shark Week episode “African Shark Safari,” and on July 26, the lecture is “Anatomy and Physiology of Sharks and Discussion of Modern Aquarium Husbandry.” odyseaaquarium.com/promotions/

    4. Binge watch Shark Week TV. You have the Discovery Channel to thank for dedicating a week each July to this ocean predator. This year’s Shark Week programming starts Sunday, July 23 and continues through Sunday, July 30, taking viewers on a journey to the depths of the sea. Plus, see whether Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps can swim faster than a shark! Discovery also unveiled its first official Discovery Shark Week app/game where players swim through three challenging multi-level worlds as five different species of sharks. discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/