A number of shark species — sevengill, leopard, spiny dogfish, soupfin and brown smooth hounds — call Bay Area waters home and are an integral part of the ecosystem puzzle.
San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay, on a mission to educate the public about sharks’ local importance, is holding a monthlong event SHARKtober, hosting events from scavenger hunts to sleepovers.
“Far and away the most common misconception about sharks is that they’re dangerous to humans,” says Christina Slager, director of husbandry at the aquarium. “Of the almost 400 types of sharks, only 12 are a threat to humans. In fact, you’re more likely to be killed by a vending machine falling on you than by a shark attack.”
October in particular is dedicated to these creatures because it’s the month great whites typically come back to the Farallon Islands, increasing the count to eight species that can be found locally, says Michele Bernhardt, communications director at the Bay Institute.
Throughout the month, the native Bay Area species, except for great whites, will be on exhibit at the Aquarium of the Bay.
Jonathan Kathrein will offer insider information about the species; he’s the guy who survived an attack while boogie boarding at Stinson Beach in 1998 when he was just 16.
Kathrein, founder of Future Leaders for Peace, will tell his story at a panel discussion at the SHARKtober FilmFest on Saturday. Features on the bill include “Rethink the Shark,” “White Shark Cafe,” “Sharks: Stewards of the Reef,” “Requiem” and “City of the Shark.”
The biggest unofficial star of the event, though, is the sevengill.
“Sevengill sharks are the largest sharks in the Bay, growing up to 10 feet in length and living as long as 50 years. The Bay is believed to be one of the largest sevengill nursery areas on the West Coast,” Slager says.
Another special SHARKtober event is a fundraiser Friday, featuring music, a silent auction and the inaugural SharkSaver award presentation. The first winner is cartoonist Jim Toomey, creator of daily strip “Sherman’s Lagoon.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, Embarcadero and Beach Street, San Francisco
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; through Oct. 31
Tickets: $8 to $15.95
Contact: (415) 623-5300, www.aquariumofthebay.org
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $17 (includes aquarium admission)
SHARKtober Family Sleepover
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $50 to $60