• Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

    When visiting Las Vegas, you might want to enjoy an hour or two at the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. Be sure to check the hours of operation prior to visiting to assure gaining entrance. While the aquarium hours may state they are open, no further admissions are permitted one hour prior to closing. Here is the link to their official page: http://www.mandalaybay.com/shark-reef/aquarium

    To get to the aquarium, you must walk all the way through the Mandalay Bay to the convention section at the opposite end. It's a very long walk, probably close to a mile from the main doors. The lobby of the hotel does have this huge aquarium, which can be viewed free of charge.

    The price of admission is $18 for adults, $12 for children, and for the very young it's free. Upon entry, the feeling quickly transitions to dim lighting, heavy foilage and the moisture associated with a large body of water. Not knowing what to expect, I was naturally quite curious.

    The first few exhibits are freshwater fish, which didn't hold my interest. I was there to see sharks! I passed a monitor that was resting on a rock, and then saw some Piranhas.

    The saltwater tanks are quite large, like the three-windowed exhibit. Here are some close-ups.

    Squeals of delight came from children leaning into the large touch pool, where one can feel the bodies of various ocean dwellers like stingrays and horseshoe crabs.

    What caught my eye was the massive Jelly tank. There's something mesmerizing about how they drift aimlessly through the current, regardless of their wicked sting.

    So where are the sharks?

    This tunnel takes you in their general direction, and offers a number tang species to observe, like the Unicorn tang.

    To get you down to their level, your gradual decent leads you to enter deep within their habitat. The theme's facade is that you are standing within the hold of a ship, viewing the sharks through massive acrylic panes.

    In addition to the sharks, giant sea turtles, guitar fish and more move around your vantage point. Using fans to blow down upon the surface of the water, the building's infrastructure is hidden from view to allow you to experience timelessness underwater. By the way, don't plan on making any phone calls from Shark Reef - you may discover that your device has zero bars. Use your smart phone to record a few images to remember your visit instead.

    The entire tour through the Shark Reef Exhibit takes about an hour, more if you are there to sit and just relax. Children should enjoy their time, and of course as you exit into the gift shop, you can purchase a memento, t-shirt or stuffed animal to prove you were there.

    My overall impression was that the entire exhibit was dimly lit, almost excessively. Perhaps it was because of the time of day, as if to emulate the dusk period. The aquarium was toured easily, with plenty of room to move about. The price may seem a little high to some, but high prices are to be expected in the massive casinos off the strip in Las Vegas. I was told by Brett Raymer or "The General" that two of the exhibits at Mandalay's Shark Reef were built by ATM, the company made famous via Animal Planet's "Tanked." Seems fitting since their logo is a shark, after all. If you're trying to avoid gambling, here's a winning alternative to fill your time.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. thearchitekt's Avatar
      thearchitekt -
      Nice article and beautiful pictures! My wife and I visited a few years back and loved it.
    1. Alaska_Phil's Avatar
      Alaska_Phil -
      Thanks for the photo's and write-up. I was there last year, but none of my photos turned out very well. I forgot my camea and only had my phone. The pirana tank had african cichlids in it when I was there, and I don't recall seeing any sea turtles either, so they must change things up once in a while.
    1. melev's Avatar
      melev -
      Many aquariums receive rescued animals, including those taken by authorities if they were illegally imported. Maybe this sea turtle came during a similar situation.
    1. Alaska_Phil's Avatar
      Alaska_Phil -
      So they throw it in a tank full of sharks?! Hopefully no tiger sharks in there.
    1. melev's Avatar
      melev -
      The sea turtle was in the shark tank, the largest exhibit of them all.
    1. Scubaman's Avatar
      Scubaman -

      It only cost $1000 for two divers in their tank. When do you want to go?
    1. melev's Avatar
      melev -
      I'll save that money for a Cancun dive.