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Shark wrangler Scott Spencer shows off one our “neighbors” of the deep. Shark Park: Raising Awareness, Not Fear A new shark experience opens in New Smyrna Beach, the “Shark Bite Capital of the World”. The Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF) has once again proclaimed New Smyrna Beach to be the “Shark Bite Capital of the World”. With a showman’s sense of timing, New Smyrna Beach entrepreneur, Scott Spencer, recently announced the opening of his latest venture, Shark Park NSB, located at 175 North Causeway Blvd in New Smyrna Beach. “Shark Park NSB was designed to be an interactive learning adventure for both kids and adults. We have many amazing, shark-related activities and exhibits all geared towards ‘Raising Awareness. Not Fear.’ about our shark neighbors”, Spencer said. Spencer, 53, a law school graduate and CPA, is not carnival-barking when he calls sharks our “neighbors”. According to Nat Geo WILD, anyone who has gone swimming in the waves of New Smyrna Beach, has been within ten feet of a shark. To prove the point and complete the guest experience, Spencer wades his guests into the water where he trains them to spot sharks. He sometimes uses aerial drones equipped with cameras to help spot the graceful creatures from above the ocean, then paddle-boards out to get a closer view if necessary, so he can point them out to his excited guests. One particular female shark, a tagged Great White, named “Katherine” is famous to New Smyrna Beach thanks to her very close to the beach Ocearch Pings. Spencer cites her current travel behavior as very unusual and only about 50 miles due East of us right now. He even predicted her to be in the “neighborhood” this week and is attempting to capture a few photos of her swimming off the coast. “No close-ups...yet,” he laughed. Part of Shark Park NSB’s core mission is catching, tagging and releasing sharks for research purposes, most of which is directed toward organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Guests are invited to participate in all aspects of the NOAA-National Marine Fisheries sponsored tagging at Shark Park NSB. “A big thrill for our returning guests is checking NOAA’s recapture data to monitor the travels of a shark they helped catch, tag and release weeks earlier. Parents often ask if there is similar technology they can use for their children,” a smiling Spencer remarked. Don’t expect to see animal activists demonstrating in front of Florida’s newest shark experience. Shark Park NSB does not maintain captive wild animals. According to Spencer, “The era of keeping wild animals captive is over. We love our shark visitors. We even name them. But we know we won’t have them for long.” The main laboratory building, located on the two-acre park site, temporarily houses different species of sharks before they are released back into the wild. On a given day, you might see a Bonnet Head Shark or a Nurse Shark swimming in the Visiting Celebrity Guest Shark Tank. Newborn (egg birth) sharks are housed and hand fed in special aquariums until they are assessed and approved for release. A popular, kid-friendly feature of the park is the Shark Tooth Hunting Beach located on the property. “The kids love finding and identifying the type of shark the petrified teeth came from, we guarantee they will find some shark teeth, if you know what I mean,” he winked. Spencer, a former world-class surfer / free-diver, turns serious when discussing his latest endeavor. “Our goal is to inform and educate residents and visitors about these beautiful, impressive sea-creatures. There is no denying we are the Shark Bite Capital of the World, why not use that distinction to raise awareness, not fear? Let’s leverage our notoriety for a good cause.” “We are already looking to expand. Who knows? You might see me on TV’s Shark Tank one day, looking for investors.” Online: www.sharkparknsb.com


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