NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — Sharks glide overhead and kids below them gawk beneath a thick protective glass, smiling and scrambling to take pictures of the ocean predators.
They're enjoying the view from inside the Newport Aquarium's underwater tunnels, which were the country's largest when the attraction opened in 1999.
"The idea was to make people feel like they're scuba diving," said Jeff Gibula, the aquarium's zoological operations manager.
The aquarium turned 15 this month. And it has remained a top tourist attraction for Kentucky and the neighboring Cincinnati area over the years, with total attendance approaching 11 million.
Aquariums built since, like Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium, have longer tunnels and more gallons of water, but Newport's has had a huge impact on this small northern Kentucky town, according to numbers provided by aquarium officials.