Sharks take center stage at two-day Shark Con

By Virginia Johnson, Entertainment Host/Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT
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The organizer of the inaugural convention Shark Con wants to help you separate fact from fiction when it comes to those apex predators.

"Everybody want to save the cute furry animal," organizer Spencer Steward said. "You know, everybody wants to save the tiger, the little tiger cubs. You see that. It's a harder sell for sharks."

But sharks do need our help. Every year, humans kill between 70 and 100 million sharks through overfishing and fin hunting.

And every year, sharks are responsible for 5 to 10 deaths a year through accidental bites.

The Florida Aquarium is taking part in the event to bring awareness of the shark’s part in our oceans, and to dispel some of the myths of the man-eating shark.

"Your chances of getting into an accident with a shark getting bitten are...well they are far more rare than getting struck by lightning or getting squashed by a vending machine trying to get a candy bar out," said Eric Hovland, Associate Curator at the Florida Aquarium and all-around shark guy.

Without sharks, the ocean’s ecosystem collapses. And oceans need our help and protection too.

That is Shark Con’s greater message.

"Sharks are the rock stars of the sea,” said Steward, “So why not focus on the number one guy and go down from there."

Look for presentations from National Geographic and Discovery Channel contributors, as well as instruction with fishing and water sports enthusiasts.

For the little ones, there will be roving Pirates and Aquaman, and appearances by mermaids.

And to enjoy the fictional part of the Shark Con, check out the Tampa Theatre’s presentation of the 1975 summer blockbuster Jaws on Saturday, May 3, at 10 p.m.

Shark Con is taking place May 3-4 at the Tampa Convention Center.