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The Summer of Sharks


By H.B. Bardarson

What child doesn’t like sharks and dinosaurs when growing up? This summer is the “Summer of Sharks” at the Alaska SeaLife Center, where fossils of the spiral-toothed or “Buzz Saw” shark, Helicoprion, will be on display through September before migrating south to the University of Oregon for its next exhibit. Alaskan artist Ray Troll, Paleontologist Dr. Leif Tapanila, and ex-Marine undergrad Jesse Pruitt are the trio that appear to be an unlikely group on first glance, but were brought together by the “powers of the spiral” as Troll calls it. Alaskan artist Ray Troll of Ketchikan is well known in his home state for his fish pun art that can be found on everything from Alaskans’ living room walls to T-Shirts, refrigerator magnets, and bumper stickers. Phrases like “Spawn ‘Til You Die” have become basic staples of Troll’s pun fish art, but this prehistoric shark exhibit at the Alaska SeaLife Center has been decades in the making and has brought together unlikely institutions from the University of Idaho’s Idaho Museum of Natural History to places as far away as the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.


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