Children and parents watched in amazement as Scuba Santa took the plunge with the sharks for the third year in a row at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk on Thursday.
Volunteer divers strapped on scuba gear before entering the 110,000-gallon shark tank, home to sting rays, lemon sharks and a 7-foot sand tiger shark.
"When we first start to jump into the water," said dive safety officer Tim Thomas. "You can actually see them start to circle below the platform, so one of the things we do is we need to wait until the platform clears before the divers can actually go into the water."
Visitors had the chance to talk with divers through a microphone and ask questions.
"He was wearing sunglasses," said one child.
"And he had a big candy cane," said another.
"They are wild animals, they can bite," Thomas said. "However, they come up to you. When you see them come up to you, you see them face to face. It's getting to the point where we actually know the sharks both in and out of the water and they know us."
Experts say between every year 75 and 100 million sharks are killed by humans.
"We need to become more aware of what sharks are for us and for our planet," said Thomas. "The reason I say there are hundreds and millions of sharks and there are millions of people in the water all the time, very few people are ever hurt by sharks. However, hundreds of millions of sharks are hurt by humans."
The Scuba Santa dive program exhibit is expected to continue on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.