Shark-Con in Tampa offers much more than fins and jaws

Last Updated: Saturday, May 03, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

Just a few days ago, a local fisherman pulled an 8-foot bull shark onto the beach at Indian Shores in Pinellas County. It was a reminder of what lurks immediately off the shores of Tampa Bay area communities.

Now, the sharks have come to downtown Tampa.

Well, sort of.

The inaugural Shark Con, promising to bring "oceans of fun" to Tampa, is taking place at the convention center this weekend. Visitors to the two-day event can see live sharks, tour a variety of displays and listen to panel discussions and presentations by shark experts from around the world.

But there's much more: Sea World, Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens also have exhibits with animals and experts. And there are water sports companies, galleries of award-winning photography and a variety of ocean-related vendors.

There's even a wading pool with mermaids.

Today's highlights include Sylvia Earle, the first female National Geographic Society explorer in residents, as well as Ellen Prager, author of The Shark Whisperer. A stand-up paddle boarding demonstration is taking place as well.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. One-day tickets are $19.99 for adults, $18 for military members and teachers and $4.99 for children.

Shark-Con is presented by the nearby Florida Aquarium. With admission to the aquarium, the ticket prices go to $34.99 for adults and $19.99 for children.