Thursday, June 21, 2018
Events

Shark Con to debut in Tampa

Spencer Steward saw Jaws at the drive-in with his dad — even though his mom forbade it — and got hooked. After studying marine biology and business, he looked to other nerdy pursuits like comic books and anime to figure out how to marry his passions.

"The easiest way to educate people is to entertain them first," said Steward, 43, of Brandon, CEO of Ocean Endeavors Inc. and a volunteer diver at the Florida Aquarium. "The kids these days seem to know all about comic cons, so I thought this would be fun way to present information."

This weekend's inaugural two-day Shark Con at the Tampa Convention Center is more than two years in the making. Modeled after fan conventions prevalent in the spring and summer, Shark Con will feature stars of the marine biology community, Sylvia Earle and Stuart Cove, panel discussions with conservation experts and interactive exhibits with marine animals in the expo hall. Fans will be able to touch bamboo sharks — which are small and found in shallow water — in a tank in the expo hall.

Earle, 74, who grew up in Dunedin, was the first woman to be named chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and an explorer in residence for National Geographic Society. She's led numerous deep sea explorations around the world studying ocean plant life, coral reefs and the effects of pollution on ocean habitats. She'll be speaking at Shark Con at 3 p.m. Saturday about her travels and conservation.

Cove made his name by wrangling sharks for several James Bond films as well as movies Open Water and Into the Blue. Cove operates a Bahamian diving adventure company and lives there with his family. He meet fans at 1 p.m. Sunday.

It's easy to see why organizers think they'll have thousands of visitors. Sharks have come to the fore of popular culture in the past 25 years with Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week in August leading the way. Campy horror films like Sharktopus and Sharknado have fueled the frenzy.

In exchange for cultural cache, Ocean Endeavors will give some of the registration money from Shark Con to charities involved in marine conservation. "We wanted to create something that would be a force for good," Steward said.

Title sponsor the Florida Aquarium will host one of the largest booths in the exhibition area and have a rotating cast of volunteers and animals.

"We have confirmed we're bringing penguins, pelicans and an alligator," said Katherine Claytor, the aquarium's public relations manager. "With the alligator you may be able to touch, and for the penguins and pelicans you'll be able to see them up close but contact won't be allowed."

Aquarium shark expert Eric Hovland will be on hand to drop knowledge about the fish of the hour and tell fans secrets about the misunderstood predator.

"I think a lot of the awareness about the truth about sharks has changed their image," Claytor said. "Sharks are curious more than anything. There are shark bites but there are rarely shark attacks. The intent is not to harm humans. Out in the oceans, we are in their environment and we need to respect that."

Other organizations, including Sea World, Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens will have exhibits with animals and experts. Water sports companies and other ocean oriented vendors also have signed on to make Shark Con a one-stop shop for the aquatically inclined. For fans of the campier side of shark culture, there will be screenings of cheesy B-movies The Last Shark and Monster Shark. And it wouldn't be a con without costumes, with mermaids, pirates and even Aquaman expected to make appearances on the convention floor.

"There's really something for everyone here," Steward said. "We're trying to appeal to all kinds of shark fans."

 
Comments
Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Grief can unhinge us, disconnect us from our daily lives, make us do things we’ve never done. Grief made Tessa Fontaine run away and join the circus.To be more exact, the sideshow: World of Wonders, the last traditional traveling sideshow in the coun...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Daryl Hall and John Oates with Train : The legendary number-one selling duo and Train perform full sets and a joint set. Kandace Springs opens. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$125. (813) 301-2500; amaliearena.com.St. Pete ...
Published: 06/21/18
Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Sonny BunchAccording to Vulture, there are three separate movies in the works about the downfall of the New York-based gossip blog Gawker.One is based on the book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue; it will be a...
Published: 06/21/18
Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Last year’s St. Pete Pride went smoothly, despite some behind-the-scenes drama involving the decision to relocate the parade to the downtown waterfront, rather than the Grand Central District, where it had traditionally been held. After all, the Gran...
Published: 06/21/18
Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

"Hooray, it’s summer!" exclaimed no Floridians. But if it’s summer proper and not just the usual year-round weather, you might as well embrace the heat and humidity with a trip to the beach, accompanied by some suitably refreshing beers. While you’r...
Published: 06/21/18
Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Rainbow connection Pride weekend: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend in St. Petersburg, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coco ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 21

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 21

Go Skateboarding Day: June 21 is the worldwide Go Skateboard Day and there’s free skateboarding all day at the skate park with free barbecue and a trick challenge. 8 a.m., Skatepark of Tampa, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. Free. (813) 621-6793; ...
Published: 06/20/18
Ticket window: Comedy Get Down, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Gladys Knight and more

Ticket window: Comedy Get Down, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Gladys Knight and more

Tickets for the following events go on sale this week: • Comedy Get Down with Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley and George Lopez, 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, $25-$125, on sale at 10 a.m....
Published: 06/20/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanIt’s been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But he’s about to make up for lost time. On Saturday he’ll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18