Shark Reef

Merbabe finds solace in the sin city desert with a Zebra Shark.

Vegas is lavish and decadent, but as you know, I’m happiest under the sea. What’s a Merbabe supposed to do in the middle of the desert?
Luckily the question was answered for me on the drive into Sin City in the form of a giant billboard with a shark on it (Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay Hotel, and one of the coolest ad campaigns ever). As you can imagine, I was immediately sucked in, and although half of the passengers in my car tried to deter me (“Mandalay Bay is really far away from our hotel….”), my best friend offered to escort me.
So Saturday afternoon, we put on our hiking boots and walked from Planet Hollywood’s Westgate Tower to the Excalibur, where there is a free tram to Mandalay Bay. Shark Reef was just a short labyrinth away through a casino and 4 Starbucks, and $18 later we were in (did I mention she’s my best friend… It was quite a hike and labor of love).
I love aquariums, it’s like Scuba diving, but I can drink rum and keep my hairstyle. Plus, all my favorite friends can come into my ocean world while I joyfully bounce up and down and identify (sometimes misidentify) fish. “There’s a Sand Tiger shark! There’s a Queen Trigger Fish! There’s a Grey Angelfish!” I shout while their smiles begin to strain.
Although I was disappointed with the size of Shark Reef (all the big boys are in one final tank at the end), it was really cool to be in the desert and yet in the company of my favorite apex predators. There was a cool stingray touch tank, and even some other awesome predators, like a Golden Crocodile and Komodo Dragon.
The final tank is filled with the aforementioned big boys. There are Southern Stingrays, Grey Reef Sharks, Black Tips, Sand Tigers, Sandbars, Nurse Sharks, Zebra Sharks and Galapagos. Also, one really fierce and beautiful looking Saw Nose, which you can experience through a glass walk through (I had never seen one from underneath).
If you need a Salt water fix in between your Fat Tuesdays and Celine Dion shows in Vegas, check out Shark Reef.

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