Aydan Young woke up this morning with a huge shark just metres from his head.

The lucky 9-year-old, his parents and twin 7-year-old brothers got to sleep in the Kelly Tarltons shark tunnel last night, with just a layer of Perspex separating them from the fearsome marine creatures.

He, his mum and dad and twin 7-year-old brothers scored the sleepover after Aydan won a competition to be the Auckland attraction's newest Ocean Ranger.

Aydan is keen on all things marine. He won the competition with his entry about the Marian Trench, and plans to be a marine biologist when he's older.


Snoozing with the sharks would be "an amazing experience", said Aydan, who planned to keep his eyes open as long as possible to watch the sharks and stingrays overhead.

Today he'll feed penguins, run a touch pool full of hermit crabs and starfish, tend to an injured hawksbill turtle, and get close and personal with an elephant shark - which is less scary than it sounds.

"It's a shark with a nostril that just is extended and it's a very, very small shark. It's too small to bite you. It likes to eat shellfish."

He'll be wearing gumboots just in case but "I think it would come for the food instead of me."

Aydan's favourite animal at Kelly Tarlton's is the male Sandtiger shark - it looks like a maneater but is more keen on fish. "I think his name was Bruce. He's quite fascinating, being the only male there of his species."

The Ocean Ranger position was created as part of a push to get kids educated on conservation, general manager Dan Henderson said.

"We've noticed that kids visiting Kelly Tarlton's have taken increasing interest in marine conservation and what they can do to help protect the ocean and its creatures."