There’s no need to head to the coast to test one’s bravery or boldness with the ocean. That’s because the Newport Aquarium’s Wave Foundation traveling shark cart will bring an opportunity to local residents.

Leaders of the Cincinnati-area facility will bring the cart — with two touchable, live, small coral cat sharks — to the Bartholomew County Public Library at 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and to the Hope Branch Library at 4 p.m. the same day, according to a news release.

The program will be limited to 100 people in Columbus and 50 people in Hope, but most of those tickets have already been distributed. Library staff emphasized that tickets must be picked up in person.

It’s intended to be fun and demystify common misconceptions about sharks, and gets those in attendance up-close and personal with the creatures.

In addition to the live sharks, several animal artifacts are used in this presentation, including shark jaws, a can of shark fin soup, shark eggs and related items.

People also will learn how they can make a difference in shark conservation.

The two programs are a part of the foundation’s educational arm encouraging people to become aware of conservation efforts of marine life.

Aquarium leaders have estimated that they will reach more than 150,000 people just in this current calendar year with its Wave on Wheels outreach program.

“We plug (the carts) in with a whole filtration system running underneath, and it’s absolutely incredible,” Dan Dunlap, the aquarium’s education curator, said in a Wave Foundation video.

The shark cart is the only such educational tool of its kind in the country, he said.

Mary Clare Speckner, the local library’s community service coordinator, got the idea to invite the shark cart from another library which hosted the program.

“We regularly borrow ideas from other libraries,” she said. “And this will be pretty cool.”

She mentioned that she visited the aquarium’s shark exhibit several years ago.

Dunlap acknowledged in a brief phone conversation that the close-up experience generally constitutes his audiences’ highlight.

“We want them to have that wow factor,” he said.

If you go

What: The Newport Aquarium’s Shark Cart with live, baby sharks.

When: Oct. 10.

Where: The Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus, 1 p.m.; and the Hope Branch Library on the historic Hope Town Square, 4 p.m.

Admission: Free, but limited to the first 100 people to pick up tickets in Columbus and the first 50 to pick up tickets in Hope.

Information: 812-379-1266 or mybcpl.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.