Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay was conceived and constructed from 1998-2000, with the Shark Reef display building opening on June 20, 2000. This display building is comprised of 14 exhibits which contain 1.6 million gallons of water and is designed to immerse visitors in the underwater world in the middle of the desert.
The Shark Reef Aquarium dive program is led by Jack Jewell who also serves as the General Curator for the facility. Shark Reef employs 16 active divers contributing to the 1100 dives completed annually at the facility. The primary purpose for these dives are commercial and recreational, but at times Jack and his team complete dives that are scientific in nature.
Jack and his dive team work closely with Sebastian Sprain of the Mirage Dolphin Habitat/MGM Resorts in training efforts. Currently, the entire MGM Resorts diving operation is undergoing implementation of a ‘best practices’ manual that has largely been put together by Sebastian with support from all the MGM Resort affiliates. Jack explains, “There are many professional divers at work in Las Vegas and we are a close community.”
Shark Reef Aquarium does offer diving opportunities for guests in their Dive with Sharks Program. Opening in 2009, this guest immersion program has placed roughly 1000 divers face to face with inspirational top predators. One innovation that sets this dive experience apart from others offered across the country, is the use of a ‘buddy phone’ which allows for voice interpretation of what is happening while divers are underwater.