The Alaska SeaLife Center announces the Summer of Sharks!
March 17, 2015

Seward, Alaska (January 15, 2015) - Science meets art as the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) brings the Buzz Saw Sharks of Long Ago exhibit to Seward, Alaska. The exhibit is on loan from the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH) and is done in collaboration with Ray Troll. Areas around the aquarium will be transformed into the Paleozoic marine world of the humongous, whorl-toothed shark.


“Summer of Sharks” at the Alaska SeaLife Center opens April 17 with fossils, sculptures, and artwork featuring the majestic Helicoprion. This prehistoric giant is the world’s only animal – past or present – with a complete 360-degree spiral of teeth. Imagine a fearsome behemoth equipped with a circular blade of teeth and strong jaws that researchers believe crimped and cut its prey.  

The Buzzsaw Shark roamed the Permian Seas more than 270 million years ago. Now, it has come back to life thanks to the informed imagination of Alaskan artist Ray Troll and Idaho State University researchers. 

Obsessing over this prehistoric marine species for more than 20 years, Troll is now the go-to guy for all things Helicoprion. Detailed artwork from Troll include a 17.5-foot-long by 8-foot-high mural of sharks, as well as 21 individual pieces. His colorful artwork combined with informational graphics explore a side of scientific history you have never seen before.  

Sculptures by artist Gary Staab welcome visitors as they travel back in time. A hanging 15-foot shark sculpture and a giant shark head bursting through the wall watch over visitors as they are immersed in Troll’s ode to this extinct creature.

The exhibit, which was previously at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, also includes four fossils of the shark’s unusual and complex whorl dentition dug from Idaho phosphate mines. Three casts of rare fossils and an interactive shark jaw showcase the power of the animal kingdom’s most unusual set of teeth.

 “I’m really excited to have the ‘Buzz Saw Sharks of Long Ago’ be a big part of the Alaska SeaLife Center's ‘Summer of Sharks.’ I think visitors to this special exhibit will find the fossils, life-sized models and colorful artwork to be pretty amazing. I can guarantee that folks have never seen sharks like these ancient wonders before. It's going to be wonderful to get to share them with my fellow Alaskans,” Ray Troll said recently when asked about the exhibit.

Children and adults alike will enjoy a humorous documentary film about the artist as they sit on a whorl-patterned “art couch,” activate the whorl tooth mechanism, “walk the whorl,” and ponder the incredible bite of a “large-as-life” Helicoprion head. 

“This is the Alaska SeaLife Center’s first traveling exhibit, and we are thrilled to have such scientifically significant artifacts and the fantastic artwork of Ray Troll here at the Center. This is a milestone for ASLC and a major event for Alaska,” President and CEO Dr. Tara Riemer said.

Buzzsaw Sharks of Long Ago explores the many ways that people have come to better understand the natural world through mysterious fossils and the quest for creatures of the deep. Troll hopes Buzzsaw Sharks will not only intrigue visitors, but also inspire them to take action and help protect all species of shark and marine life.

Summer of Sharks is open April 17 through Labor Day and made possible by our presenting sponsor BP.

About the ASLC

Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium, with wildlife response and education programs. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. To learn more, visit

About the IMNH

The Idaho Museum of Natural History is home to permanent and special collections in Anthropology, Earth Sciences, and Life Sciences, a place where researchers pursue scholarly study of the collections and publish their findings in peer-reviewed and museum-sponsored publications.


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