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Monterey Bay Aquarium tags, releases its great white shark

November 4, 2009 | 12:30 pm

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