Aquarium's Newest Theme Program opens Oct. 5

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Anaconda as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Anaconda

Barracuda as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Barracuda

Electric eel as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Electric eel

Lionfish as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Lionfish

Moray eel as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Moray eel

Octopus as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Octopus

Shark as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Shark

Stingray as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Stingray

Stonefish as part of Killer Instincts at New England Aquarium

Stonefish

BOSTON, MA - October 05, 2007
What we don’t understand, we often fear, and many of the ocean’s most mysterious creatures bear the brunt of our mischaracterizations. We think of them as vicious, violent and deadly. The mere mention of a shark can clear a crowded beach in minutes. After wildlife expert Steve Irwin’s death, stingrays became infamous for the dangerous stinger in their tails.

The most terrifying animals in the ocean have been inspiration for countless horror movies, books and urban legends. But how dangerous are they really? The truth may surprise you. Which marine animals should we fear, and which ones are we driving to extinction? Which animals do we think of as cold-blooded killers when they are only acting in self-defense? And what small fish is one of the deadliest creatures in the ocean?

All of these questions and more are answered in the New England Aquarium’s newest theme program, Killer Instincts, which opens October 5. The program’s interactive passport program gives visitors a lasting take-home memory as they stamp their passports to learn the truth behind the sand tiger shark, anaconda, great barracuda, electric eel, lionfish, moray eel, giant Pacific octopus and southern stingray. Additionally, Live Animal Presentations throughout the day will introduce visitors to other feared creatures. Educators will be on hand to answer every imaginable question and help the terrified face their fears. A larger-than-life shark video on our high-definition wall brings visitors face-to-face with these incredible creatures. Our newest offering at the Simons IMAX Theatre, Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure, rounds out the program through a startlingly realistic 3D movie that tells the story of the most terrifying animals ever to roam the sea: the ferocious underwater dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period.

Shark attacks on humans are incredibly rare. More people are killed by dogs, crocodiles, elephants and pigs each year than by sharks. People are actually a far bigger threat to sharks than they are to us. Millions of these threatened species are killed each year for their fins, skin and meat, and as by-products of the fishing industry.

Despite the tragedy surrounding Steve Irwin’s death, incidences in which stingrays harm humans are similarly rare. Stingrays only use the poisonous stingers at the base of their tails when they feel threatened, as a self-defense mechanism against predators. In fact, most stingrays are so gentle that entire tourism industries in some areas have been created around allowing divers to touch and interact with these creatures in the wild.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should hop into the water to swim with the sharks, or seek out a stingray when it’s feeling threatened. Some ocean creatures can be dangerous—some of the most unexpected ones can even be deadly. Visiting the New England Aquarium will help you uncover the truth of their Killer Instincts.