(CBS Seattle) — Getting inches away from the razor-sharp teeth of a shark will no longer require an expensive trip to South Africa, just a drive down to Tacoma. Starting Friday, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is letting you get right in the water with its sharks.

The  Eye-To-Eye Shark Dive allows you to get within chomping distance of more than a dozen sharks including a 9-foot lemon shark. All you need to be is brave. Scuba diving experience is not required and the zoo provides all the equipment you’ll need. Shark divers slip into a special suit that seals out any water; you don’t even need to change out of your clothes. Divers without any experience get into a cage. Certified scuba divers are free to roam the world of the sharks. The zoo’s website claims this is the only shark diving experience of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

Aside from giving divers a heart-pounding tale to tell, the Point Defiance Zoo has a conservation message it wants people to take away as well. Aquarium Deputy Director John Houck tells KOMO News sharks are being over-fished and killed at alarming rates. “It’s estimated that as many as 100 million sharks are harvested worldwide each year. The best estimates are that 38 million sharks are killed every year just for their fins, to make shark fin soup,” Houck told KOMO.

The Zoo hopes people will take home some great memories of their shark dive and join the efforts to protect sharks.

Check out the zoo’s video below to see what a shark dive looks like.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. KOMO News contributed to this report.)


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