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Outer Reef

Swim Into the depths

Sharks may look ferocious – but you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a shark. And our sand tiger shark, with all those teeth? He’s harmless – he just can’t close his mouth all the way.

Discover the Reef

Shark Feed
It's a Frenzy.
Watch the frenzy – and careful choreography – as our 16 sharks get fed! 11 am Tues. and Sat. On Thurs-Sun, watch for visitors doing the Eye to Eye Shark Dive...
See daily schedule
Find it
at the Zoo
Our 240,000-gallon Outer Reef habitat mimics the real-life edge of a reef, where shallow protected waters meet the open ocean. Find it deep inside the South Pacific Aquarium, to the right of the central grassy lawn. NOTE: No strollers, please.

Meet our sharks

Nurse Shark
Sandbar shark
Blacktip reef shark
Japanese wobbegong
Sand tiger shark
Crevalle Jack

Protecting Sharks

Stop the finning.

THE THREAT: Sharks are beautiful creatures who keep our oceans in balance. But every year, millions fall victim to the horrific practice of finning, where a shark’s fins are cut off for human use and the shark thrown back into the ocean to die.

HOW TO HELP: Tell your friends how awesome sharks are. Never buy shark fin soup, pills or shark souvenirs. Use the Seafood Watch app to support sustainable fishing, and tell your representatives in Congress that you want shark protection laws.

Aquarium Stories

Making Turtle Waves

The look on Keilan Fowora’s face was priceless. “Are these real?” asked the seven-year-old, running his fingers over a sea turtle shell and the sharp teeth on a shark jaw bone. “Yep, they’re real,” assured Heather Detwiler, outreach associate for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, standing behind the table at Tacoma’s STAR Center. Then Keilan’s … Continued

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Spider crabs make a scientific splash

Aquarist Mikiko Williams, clad in a black wetsuit, stood in the Japanese Spider Crab habitat at the Pacific Seas Aquarium, reached down, gently picked up an animal that weighed about 8 pounds and hoisted it up and out of the water. It was just after 8:30 a.m., the Zoo would open in an hour, and … Continued

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Caring for the small: Rockfish and seahorse

In a corridor surrounded by pipes, tanks and equipment, three women crouch over a tub. One – an intern veterinarian – carefully handles a Q-tip swab. The second – a veterinarian – readies a microscope slide. The third – an aquarist – has her gloved hands submerged, gently holding a china rockfish. A fourth aquarist … Continued

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Diving with Sharks
Imagine immersing yourself in the warm waters of the Outer Reef with 16 sharks…That’s the experience of an Eye to Eye Shark Dive – unforgettable.