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Shark sightings onshore

The Florida Aquarium turns up the fear factor Saturday with a new daily show featuring a diver in the tank with 39 sharks.

Divers will enter the shark tank twice a day, at noon and 2 p.m., while visitors watch and ask questions during a 30-minute presentation.

"People just have this amazing fear and fascination with sharks, and we're trying to dispel some of the myths about them," said Andrea Davis, an aquarium spokeswoman. "The bottom line is, it's exciting, and it will bring people in, but it's also educational."

Beside the live show, the aquarium has added informational displays highlighting fears about sharks and the facts that often dispel the myths.

"With the attacks last summer, there's just a heightened sense of fear," Davis said. "But you have a much greater chance of being struck by lightning in Florida than being attacked by a shark. This is a way to get the message out."

The divers will begin in a shark cage and then move into the tank in the Sea Hunt part of the aquarium. "They're going to be wearing a full face mask so that they can talk to the audience and answer audience questions," Davis said.

The aquarium added 24 sharks to its collection for the new show, bringing its total to 39. The collection now includes black tip reef sharks, zebra sharks, sand tigers, wobbegong sharks, nurse sharks, blacknose sharks and bonnetheads.

The aquarium also added new sharks and stingrays to the touch pool, so visitors can have a chance to get close.

A recent practice session indicated that the shows will be a big audience hit, Davis said. "People were crowding up to the tank," she said. "Kids were screaming, "They're in the shark tank.' "

Folks coming to see the new shark show at the Florida Aquarium can get up close to the creaturesthey may fear because they know too little about them.

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