2013 has been the summer of sharks. Fortunately, we are not referring to an uptick in shark attacks, but rather this summer’s multitude of shark related pop culture events. In July, the SyFy channel released Sharknado, a campy made-for-TV disaster film about a waterspout that lifts sharks out of the ocean, creating a carnivorous tornado that terrorizes the streets of Los Angeles.

This week, the shark phenomenon continues with the Discovery Channel’s 26th annual Shark Week. This year’s schedule will contain a documentary about a species of extinct mega sharks, a program about very rare deep sea sharks, and a late night talk show aptly named Shark After Dark.

If you’re planning a trip to the Smoky Mountain area, you can experience Shark Week for yourself, with a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. This stellar aquarium has its very own Shark Lagoon, an entire section devoted to our favorite monsters of the deep. We’ve compiled some intriguing facts about Ripley’s most famous sharks.

Sand Tiger Shark

The Sand tiger shark, which can grow up to 13 feet, is the largest shark in Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. In spite of its exposed teeth and frightening appearance, the sand tiger shark is relatively tranquil and slow-moving.

Dwelling in warm waters, wild sand tiger sharks hunt close to the shore in Japan, Australia, South Africa, the Mediterranean and the east coasts of North and South America.

Nurse Shark

With small mouths and large throats, Nurse sharks suck in their prey like a vacuum. Nurse sharks received their name because the sucking noise they make when feeding sounds extraordinarily similar to the sound of a baby sucking on a bottle.

Nurse Sharks live in reefs and sand flats in the Western Atlantic, the Eastern Atlantic, the Eastern Pacific, and the Caribbean.

Sleeping With The Sharks

If your kids can’t get enough of Ripley’s sharks, they can participate in one of the aquarium’s sleepovers! “Sleeping With The Sharks” gives children the unique opportunity to see a late night dive show, go on a scavenger hunt, and spend the night camping in the Shark Lagoon. Typically, there is a 12 child minimum for an aquarium sleepover, but Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg accommodates smaller parties with special Family Editions held on September 21st and November 2nd.

Where to Stay

Spending Shark Week in the Smokies? Park Place on the River is located minutes away from Ripley’s Aquarium and the rest of downtown Gatlinburg. Featuring private balconies overlooking the river, jacuzzis, and a swimming pool, the condos at Park Place on the River have everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. To find out more about Park Place’s condo specials and discounts, call 1-800-321-5798.