OSU student gets in deep with Oklahoma Aquarium bull sharks

OSU student gets in deep with Oklahoma Aquarium bull sharks

Oklahoma Aquarium volunteer Trae Taylor was the Dive with the Bull Sharks contest winner in 2020.

The Wewoka, Oklahoma native was selected out of hundreds of entries from across the country and had the opportunity to dive in the bull shark tank Friday at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Oklahoma Aquarium volunteer and Oklahoma State University student Trae Taylor prepares to go into the bull shark tank at the aquarium. Photos/Courtesy

After having the chance to dive in the aquarium’s Polynesian tank and sea turtle tank, Taylor said he was ready to jump in with the sharks.

“The whole day I was just ready to get in the water,” Taylor said. “If there was a feeling to describe this, it would be as if I was a kid again waiting to open presents on Christmas morning.”

Wewoka, Oklahoma native Trae Taylor was the 2020 Dive with the Bull Sharks winner.

Taylor said the moment was surreal when he first entered the water.

“My thoughts were, ‘WOW this is actually happening. Something I have always dreamed of as a kid is actually happening right now.’”

Taylor said the closest the sharks got to him in the tank was about 10 feet.

Taylor said his interaction with the sharks was an incredible opportunity.

“It was so amazing,” Taylor said. “Looking at those sharks and being around them was a beautiful experience. I’d say the closest a shark got was approximately 10 feet or so. The longer I was in there, the more interested and comfortable they got. The sharks were definitely curious of what was going on inside their home. They kept checking me out, but none came up close and personal. I assume they got the social distancing memo.”

Taylor poses for a picture with people in the shark tunnel at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Taylor said the experience was almost exactly what he expected.

“The sharks showed signs of curiosity,” Taylor said. “I did expect though that at least one shark would have been curious enough to come up close. Other than that, the dive was everything I expected plus more. No matter how calm you are, once you see that first 300-pound plus shark, you get an amazing adrenalize rush. Also, I sense of complete peace comes from watching the beauty of sharks.”

Taylor takes a selfie while in the bull shark tank.

Taylor is a full-time student at Oklahoma State University and says his ultimate career goal is to work at an aquarium and do research on the species. As for diving, he said wants to take a major step the next time he gets into water with sharks.

“Next on the list for me would have to be going to South Africa and getting in the water with a great white shark,” Taylor said. “I am trying to plan that after my graduation from Oklahoma State in 2021.”

Kyle Salomon

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