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Monterey Bay Aquarium tags, releases its great white shark

Great white shark is released after two months of captivity in Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A female great white shark that had lived in the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Outer Bay exhibit since August was tagged and released today.

The young predator, which was captured off Malibu, was set free offshore beyond the southern edge of Monterey Bay. She measured 5 feet, 5 inches, and weighed 100 pounds.

It's the fifth white shark successfully released after a stay at the facility, where the sharks are intended to provide visitors with a better understanding of the apex predators and inspire support for shark conservation.

She was released because she had begun to exhibit aggressive behavior toward other sharks in the 1-million-gallon tank.

"I’ve always said that these animals will tell us when it’s time to put them back to the ocean. Now was clearly the time,” said Randy Hamilton, vice president of husbandry for the aquarium. “Her health is excellent, and we learned a lot while she was with us. Based on past experience, we have every expectation that she’ll do well after release.”

Tracking tags will enable scientists to monitor the shark's movements and habits. Previously, two of the released sharks traveled beyond Baja California's tip. The other two ventured to the Santa Barbara area.

The aquarium, with its research partners, also is part of a Juvenile White Shark Program, which involves tagging and tracking of sharks that utilize California and Mexico waters as nurseries. Real-time data and published research can be found on the Tagging of Pacific Predators website.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Great white shark is released after two months of captivity in Monterey Bay Aquarium. Credit: © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder

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Comments (2)

I am glad I had a chance to see this shark while it was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She was a small but beautiful animal with the iconic profile we have been trained to fear. A million gallons sounds like a big tank but it was shared with hammerheads, lemon sharks, and some 300 pound tuna. These animals are built to cover thousands of miles of ocean, so it may not be possible to contain one in a tank, no matter how large.

I find the assertion made in the comments that the MBA released the shark due to budgetary concerns a bit absurd. Firstly, a 100 pound shark eats far less than just one of the many 300 pound tuna. The shark's contribution to the food budget is negligible; they have so many large animals there. Secondly, great white sharks do get increasingly aggressive when enclosed. It has happened every time this sort of thing has been tried. Third, MBA is not rules by greedy bureaucrats, it is staffed by people who care passionately about the ocean and her inhabitants. If you take a minute to talk with the staff and management, that becomes abundantly clear. I never cease to be surprised by the negative points of view people express on the internet.

The great white told you it was time, heh? Nothing to do with less people visiting the aquarium around the holidays, rendering the money maker expendable. Must cost plenty to feed her, so might as well let her roam free. Again, I mean.

Props to Pete for stating the shark was actually "captured", as in intentionally, as opposed to "rescued" or however the MBA might try to spin it.


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.