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Monterey Bay Aquarium lands another great white shark

A white shark gets used to its new surroundings in the Monterey Bay Aquarium's million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has obtained another great white shark -- its fifth since 2004 -- and like the others, it will be a popular attraction throughout the duration of her stay.

It's a female measuring only 5 feet 3 and weighing just 80 pounds, but she boasts the classic great white look and manner.

She was obtained off Malibu with the help of a spotter plane and commercial purse seiners and it's hoped those who visit the aquarium to view the shark will come away with a greater appreciation for the embattled species.

The four previous white sharks, which were viewed by an estimated 2 million people, were tagged and released after stays of various length. Scientists tracked them as part of an ongoing monitoring project that also involves other white sharks that were tagged and released without spending time in captivity.

The last captive shark was released from the aquarium after only 11 days and tracked to the Channel Islands area. The previous shark, released after a five-month stay, was followed for an extended period as it swam to and past Cabo San Lucas, then up  into the Sea of Cortez off Baja California, where it remained for weeks before its tag life expired.

I chronicled that journey in an L.A. Times story. Scientists say data from the tagged sharks are providing insight into a species whose travels and habits are still largely a mystery. The Tagging of Pacific Predators program, spearheaded largely by Barbara Block of Stanford University, is helping to clear up some of those mysteries.

It's not clear how long the shark will remain at the aquarium; it could be weeks or months, depending on how well she adapts to her surroundings in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit. So if you'd like to check her out in person, sooner is probably better.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A white shark gets used to its new surroundings in the Monterey Bay Aquarium's million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit. Credit: Randy Wilder / Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Comments (11)

I have seen this at Monterey Bay Aquarium and it is a beauty. Tiger Sharks are the only shark I have seen that look more scary.

Kill it!.... hasn't anyone seen Jaws??? that thing will grow up and follow your family and kill them...

80 lbs now but next week it'll be 4 tons

And why does it have to be a "White" Shark??

So little is known about the great white due to it's global distribution and crossing of political zones. Population data is hard to obtain, as they are quite rare amongst sharks and data gathering methods can be unreliable in some areas. They also are slow to grow and have few young. The more we can learn from a successful, and temporary, catch and release program; the better we can craft conservation and recovery plans for the wild populations. I have been following the Monterey Bay program for years, and can only give kudos for their efforts on public education and conservation efforts. You have much support in the conservation biology community, as I'm sure you know.

Its so cool that monerey can even have the deadliest shark!!!Monerey is good place to see that Great white shark.Its not a good idea tokill a shark for a buck!Great white sharks are endarged specied so we shold not kill these prehistoric sharks.Great white sharks lived when dinosaur rule the earth.Look foe people who catch sharks are no better than city folks.they are city slickers!

Look fool, no one is hurting the shark, I think it is amazing to be able to come close and personal with the wild animal. It isnt intended for keeps. By NO MEANS are they slaughtered so your argument is a mute point.Bye the way do you enjoy your local zoo? I am an animal rights person; however, I am not a radical. I see no harm in caring for this creature to ensure proper health and to be able to learn from them. God intended animals to be learned from, they were not put here just for scavanging purposes. I will not stand for abuse, pain, or neglect of an animal in the name of science, I feel that is a little extreme. What this aquarium is doing is in great efforts to help this specie as they are on the endangered list. We know very little about them, the more knowledge we have the better we can help them in their survival, so before you pass judgement, complain to the people of this world who use cats and dogs as live shark bait, or shark finning for your cosmetics and soup, how about whale poaching, or count how many great whites, bulls, tiger, and many other sharks, whales, and dolphins that die for your tuna salad you eat at lunch. To cry out this is exploitation, check out the next rebok or nike commercial and ask yourself what those are made of??? Point is there is no harm that has been put upon this beautiful creature. No other place in the world has successfuly maintained a white shark in captivity so obviously the Monterey Bay Aquarium is doing something right in keeping our friends happy. Kudos to their indevores and I hope they succeed in helping our wild friends grow and multiply.

HAHAHAH Did I call it or what?? The science defense, just as I suspected. I understand that tagging migratory species, especially those such as great whites where there is still plenty to learn, is beneficial to researchers. But the shark could have been tagged without snatching her from the open ocean and locking her up in captivity. I'm sure it's an amazing experience to see a great white in an aquarium and I believe you when you say it promotes conservation, but C'MON NOW!! That whole "but, but, but we're a non profit" is not only an insult to my intelligence(no biggie,I forgive you) but an insult to all those who came out in record numbers and paid 30 bucks a pop to see the sharks(plural). The beautiful animal wasn't tangled in any lines or accidentally caught, she was intentionally harvested from the open ocean!! I'm not even an animal nut and it's plain as day there was way more to it than just shark awareness. Great business move, by the way.

We hope your newest Malibu native will bring happiness and hope to all. Please treat her with the respect she deserves! Good luck and God speed -
Pamela Conley Ulich
Malibu City Councilmember and
Former Mayor of Malibu

Jess would be absolutely correct if making a buck were the reason we placed a young white shark on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is not.

We've invested more in the program since 2002 than we've brought back in revenues from increased attendance -- including more than $1 million we've contributed to field studies of adult and juvenile white sharks.

For a non-profit public aquarium like ours, living exhibits are the most effective tool we have for changing attitudes in ways that will benefit sharks in the wild. By surveying visitors about the white sharks we've exhibited, we’ve documented a direct connection between having these healthy animals here for a short time and visitor support for our efforts to conserve white sharks and other ocean wildlife.

Our executive director, Julie Packard, said the first white shark we kept on exhibit for six months was “the most powerful emissary for conservation in our history.”

All four white sharks kept on exhibit have been tagged and successfully returned to the wild. In addition, with in collaboration with research partners in southern California, we've tagged and tracked another 26 young white sharks since 2002. What we've learned about their migrations along the coast between southern California and Mexico -- information brand-new to science -- can be used by fisheries managers to better protect white sharks and their critical habitat.

By changing public attitudes and contributing to scientific research, we believe we’re improving the survival prospects of white sharks. That’s the only reason to have a white shark on exhibit at all, and the only reason we brought a fivth white shark to the aquarium this week. In a few weeks, or a few months, we'll return her to the wild as well. And we'll continue our field tagging project in the summer of 2010, even though we have no plans to bring a white shark to Monterey next year.

Ken Peterson, Communications Director
Monterey Bay Aquarium

It’s amazing what comes out of the water! It’s kind of scary sometimes too. And as everyone enjoys the wonders of nature, hopefully they will make safety the number on priority. Cal Boating’s Safety Team has a lot of helpful information on their website. Stop by and learn some new information that will keep everyone out on the water safe: http://bit.ly/3yJNB7.

Leave the Sharks alone.

Vey cool. The great white itself, I mean. What's not cool is intentionally catching her to make a buck. I know the aquarium will claim science as defense, but that would be like the Japanese claiming science while slaughtering whales. Seems kind of hypocritical to snatch up a free swimming endangered species for public display while condemning others for exploiting nature..


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.