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Monterey Bay Aquarium scientists put a shark in the pen in Malibu

June 27, 2008 |  9:38 am

Sharky_waters A great white shark has been swimming in the floating pen outside Paradise Cove in Malibu since Tuesday, caught accidentally by a commercial fisherman and turned over to marine biologists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's a young male, 4 feet 9 inches long, no estimates on weight yet.

The shark stays under observation in the 4 million-gallon mesh offshore holding pen until the biologists decide whether to tag and release it, or send it to Monterey for a star turn in the wildly popular Outer Bay exhibit, the aquarium's largest. If the new great white makes the cut, it will travel to Monterey via the "Finnebago," a 3,000-gallon oblong holding tank filled with water kept at 68 degrees. Sharks are kept in the exhibit for a few weeks to a few months, then are released into the ocean with tracking devices, which transmit back a wealth of information.

Last_years_shark The aquarium typically looks for "young of the year," or sharks younger than 1, who eat bait fish but won't hunt larger prey such as seals and sea lions. (A photo of last year's shark, at left, swimming in the exhibit. For an update on the aquarium's previous tenant, check our recreation blog, Outposts.)

Opinions about keeping a shark in captivity are -- surprise! -- sharply divided. Some object on moral grounds, others say learning as much as possible about the predators will help protect them.

Meanwhile, the newest candidate is swimming in circles in Malibu. We'll keep you posted.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo of shark: Randy Wilder / Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation