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Shark update: Young great white released from tank in Malibu

June 30, 2008 |  9:31 am

Mr_white_does_laps Remember the young great white shark caught by local fishermen and put into the floating pen last week outside Paradise Cove in Malibu? Biologists released him Sunday after deciding he wouldn't be a good candidate to live for a few months in the Outer Bay exhibit of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Meanwhile, a number of readers asked for stats about the sharks that have been captured for study. Here's the info from Ken Peterson, who works with the aquarium:

Since 2002, we and our university research colleagues have handled 30 young white sharks in Southern California waters. Of those, 29 were caught accidentally in gear used by commercial fishermen as they were fishing for sea bass or halibut. The 30th was caught hook-and-line by our staff, and was one of three young sharks brought to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Of the 29 caught in commercial gear, five died. Some of those deaths undoubtedly were the result of injuries the sharks sustained in fishing nets before we received them. (There's no definitive way to say in how many cases that was a factor.)

We do know that, because fishermen are willing to alert us when they accidentally catch a young white shark, we've been able to tag and track more than a dozen animals and learn more than has ever been known about their movements in waters off Southern California and Baja. You can find the published data from the initial tagging work here.

As for the shark released Sunday, Peterson says it promptly swam away -- far away, as the sharks collected by the aquarium are too young to show territorial behavior. Biologists say the juveniles, which are fish-eaters, swim throughout SoCal waters, as well as south to Baja, Mexico.

All three sharks that did a stint in the aquarium exhibit were released in the Monterey Bay. The first went to Santa Barbara within the month. The second wound up in Cabo San Lucas in 90 days, and last year's shark -- that's the one in the photo -- took 44 days to get to Cabo and, five months later, was in the Sea of Cortez.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium

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