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 user 2005-04-05 at 11:53:00 am Views: 46
  • #29486

    Great White Shark That Set Captivity Record Freed

    SALINAS, Calif. (April 05) – A great white shark that
    survived far longer than any other in captivity was returned to the wild
    Thursday because it was growing too large and had begun preying on other fish at
    the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

    The shark, captured by a halibut fisherman off the coast of
    Orange County in August, was in captivity for 198 days. The previous captivity
    record was 16 days.

    It was also the first great white to regularly eat outside
    the wild, putting on 100 pounds while at the aquarium.

    “The larger she grew, the more that human safety and animal
    welfare concerns became a factor in our thinking,” said Randy Hamilton, vice
    president of husbandry for the aquarium. “It’s more risky to handle a larger

    The predator had killed two soupfin sharks earlier this
    year, although aquarium officials weren’t sure whether the shark was hunting at
    the time. After close observation this week, researchers noticed it was starting
    to exhibit true hunting behavior.

    “We’ve been watching to see if she was actively hunting
    other animals in the exhibit,” Hamilton said. “When we saw clear signs on
    Monday, we decided an immediate release would be best.”

    Aquarium staff released the shark south of Monterey Bay.
    Its movement will be tracked for 30 days with an electronic tag that was
    attached before its release.

    During its stay in Monterey, the shark had grown from a
    length of 5 feet and a weight of 62 pounds to 6 feet, 4 inches and 162 pounds.
    It was about a year old when it was caught.

    The aquarium acquired a wealth of information on how best
    to care for the animals in captivity.

    Mark Berman, assistant director of the International Marine
    Mammal Project at the Earth Island Institute, applauded the release. The San
    Francisco group is leading efforts against keeping dolphins, orcas and other
    advanced sea life in captivity.

    “In the future, we think the Monterey Bay Aquarium and
    others should work on protecting these species in the wild,” he said. “I’m sure
    they now have valuable footage and data they can utilize without having to bring
    another (shark) in.”

    The aquarium, however, said it will try to find another
    young great white shark for the exhibit later this year. It also is expanding
    other research that involves tagging and tracking the animals.

    The aquarium, which opened in 1984 at the site of an
    abandoned fish cannery, saw attendance jump 30 percent after the shark arrived.