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Five new sharks at Kelly Tarlton's aquatic centre will be shown off to the public for the first time this weekend.

The sand tiger sharks average 40kg in weight and 2m in length.

Brought over from the United States, they will be shown on Saturday as part of a themed exhibition.

The sharks were named sand tiger for their fondness for hanging out in coastal waters. They are also known as grey nurse sharks.

Kelly Tarlton's head curator, Andrew Christie, says the new sharks will provide a fascinating educational insight for many visitors.

"We are thrilled that visitors will now have the opportunity to see these fearsome-looking predators up close," he said. "We really hope that as well as marvelling over their frightening appearance, visitors to Kelly Tarlton's will be able to learn more about these amazing predators and begin to understand why their conservation is so important."

A sand tiger shark can be somewhat alarming with its large body and mean set of teeth which protrude in all directions, even when its mouth is shut.

However, it will not attack people if left alone.

"Sand tiger sharks - like many shark species - pose little threat to humans when left alone and actually have much more to fear from us than we do from them," Mr Christie said.

Kelly Tarlton's curatorial team will study the sharks' behaviour with the aim of helping marine biologists better understand how to breed the predators in captivity.

The sand tiger shark-themed exhibition will be on throughout the summer, starting on December 18 and running until January 31.

*Named for their fondness for staying in coastal waters, but also known as greay nurse sharks.

*Measure from 2-3m in length.

*Weigh an average of 40kg.

*Have a mean set of sharp teeth which protrude in all directions even with their mouths shut.

*Can appear ferocious but are known to attack people only when bothered first.